Added: February 27, 2006

More Customers! Less Work!

[ by Michele Schermerhorn ]
Wouldn't it be nice if there were an inexpensive method for creating more customers? There is!

Many businesses spend a lot of money in an attempt to increase sales and generate a larger customer base. They use online advertising and print ads. Both these methods can be costly. Instead of spending money on expensive advertising campaigns, let's look at these simple methods to increased sales.
1. Use Articles Instead of Ads
People tend to more readily believe what they read in published articles as opposed to advertising. They have learned that advertising has one purpose and that's to sell them something. Instead of investing a lot of money in an advertising campaign, invest a little effort.
Schedule some of your time to writing articles about your product(s). This will start to establish you as an expert. Give away free information. As people begin to trust what you tell them, they are more inclined to ask you questions and buy from you.
We don't want to give up on advertising altogether. But, when you run an advertisement, try to make the advertisement look more like an article than an ad. Many large companies have been employing this technique for many years. It's time you start!
Make certain you also include customer testimonials in your ads. People like to know what others say about you so don't hide those good comments!
2. Secure & Use Testimonials
Typically, people pay more attention to what others have to say about you than what you have to say about yourself. That makes sense. You are trying to sell them something. Your customers aren't trying to sell them anything.
So how to you get customer testimonials? Pick up the phone and call your customers! Provide an after-sale customer satisfaction survey. Make certain you have a note attached to the survey saying their comments may be used in your advertising and your website. Ask what they thought of your product or service. Inquire what they liked about it and how it was helpful for them.
Then, feature these testimonials prominently in your marketing materials. But don't stop there! While you have them on the phone, how about asking for a referral?
3. Get Referrals
When people need a new doctor, lawyer, plumber, mechanic or a hairdresser, they typically ask a friend for a referral. Individuals trust the recommendations of people they know. In fact, that's how the majority of people find new jobs.
Don't wait for the occasional referral to come in spontaneously. Implement a proactive system to generate referrals. Most businesses lack referrals simply because they fail to ask happy customers. Start asking!
4. Personalize Your Marketing Message
People do business with people they like. You need to help prospects get to know you and trust you. Let your passion and personality come across in your marketing, as well as your professionalism. Include a picture of yourself, with a smile, in a prominent place on the first page of your marketing materials.
5. Make Contacting You Easy
If you want clients and prospects to get in touch with you, make it easy. Put your phone number at the top of your marketing materials and tell them to call. When you call them, give them your phone number again at the end of the conversation and tell them to call. If you have a web site, put a contact form at the bottom of your home page and every other page on your website.
6. Stay in Touch With Customers & Prospects
Make it a habit to contact customers regularly. When you do, don't always be in a sales mode. Keep track of their purchases and when a reorder might be appropriate. Then, send them a reminder about reordering so they don't run out.
Communication isn't the only ingredient for developing a relationship with customers, but it is a critical one. If you sell services or high end products, a personal phone call is one of the best ways to answer prospects questions, and to establish trust. Contact your prospects and clients regularly and get feedback on what they are concerned about.
7. Start blogging!
The power of weblogs is that they allow millions of people to easily publish their ideas, and millions more to comment on them. Increasingly people write, read and comment on blogs. Many people mistakenly believe that blogs are only personal diaries. More and more, blogs are being used by businesses to attract customers.
A successful blog is written with a distinct audience in mind. In this way, you can provide content that is unique to your audience's issues, needs, or desires. Successful blogging takes a commitment of your time. When you begin blogging and wish to capture an audience, you should be prepared to blog every day. In this way, you can develop an audience who counts on you to help them begin or end their day. How does a blog help you generate sales?
When people return time and again to your blog because you provide them with relevant or entertaining information, they will comment. When they post comments, you get a chance to start a relationship. And, many who do not comment, will still be referred to your personal information and your products.
All of the methods we have discussed here to increase sales are relatively inexpensive. For those of you on a limited marketing budget, the rewards can be great. Time to get started!
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Michele Schermerhorn calls herself a "Corporate Freedom Fighter" dedicated to freeing cubicle prisoners to experience their own successful online business. She has over 30 years experience in the business world and over 12 years running her own successful online businesses. She is President of Online Business Institute Inc. (http://www.obinstitute.com), authors a sassy marketing blog (http://www.imarketblog.com), and regularly conducts free online seminars. Online Business Institute Inc. exists to "Create Successful Online Business Owners One Person At A Time".