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How to boost the profit from your existing customer base

February 08, 2016 by Shweta Jhajharia

How to boost the profit from your existing customer base{{}}Many business owners assume marketing is all about lead generation; pulling in new enquiries and gaining new customers.

But this is not the whole picture. Marketing is actually about getting more business. And that includes getting more value out of your existing customer base.

To achieve this you need to be able to identify two customer types. Firstly, you need to know who are your most profitable customers - those that are bringing you high value. This is the absolute gross profit taking into account the volume of sales. Then you need to know who are your "active" customers, those that are engaged with you in some way within a set period of time.

How you approach each of the four main customer segments depends on their profitability and levels of activity. I call this the four Rs - retention, reactivation, reconditioning and reach. Here's how it works:

1. Retention: high profit, active clients

These are the customers who are bringing you high profit and are active. Generally, these will be the 20% of customers that give you 80% of your business. You need to keep these.

Your mindset

Think about retaining them. Have they stopped communicating, are they buying lower margin products or not buying at all?

Strategies

  • Loyalty. Think personal gifts, loyalty programs, rebate points, special deals and freebies. Highlight the higher margin products to prevent them dropping into a lower profit category;
  • Referrals. Decide how, who and when to ask for referrals. You can download a simple 3-step referral system here;
  • Closed-door sales. Take the 15-20% that give you 80% of your business and really making them feel special. This is what customers stick around for and how you create raving fans.

2. Reactivation: high profit, inactive clients

These are the customers who may have once been purchasing at a profitable level, but have started to communicate less with you. Find out why.

Your mindset

You are just reaching out to them, not selling. You want to remind them that you exist, and keep your brand in their thoughts.

Strategies

  • Email sequences. Prepare three emails; make them punchy and straightforward, offering real value to these customers when they re-engage with you. The point is to appear in their inbox and become associated with valuable content. So when their need does arise, you will be the first one they think of;
  • Telephone calls. A phone call can double your reactivation rate. This is a customer care call. Extending a free invitation to an event is a great reason to call and a good reactivation funnel;
  • Find out if something has gone wrong; then rectify the problem.
If you really believe in your product or service, then sales is an education process, and not reaching out is doing your customers a disservice.

3. Reconditioning: low profit, active clients

These are your "comfort zone" clients. You may be afraid to touch them in case they stop buying from you altogether, but the truth is there is more that you can do.

Your mindset

Focus on reconditioning the situation, so the customer is getting more value and is giving you more value in return.

Strategies

  • Change the product mix or options so that they become more valuable to both you and the customer;
  • Increase your prices. Remember most customers are more interested in value than cheap;
  • Negotiate with suppliers to bring the price down; your customer does not undergo any change, but you increase the value they are giving you.

4. Reach: low profit, inactive clients

Don't place your emphasis here but do have a strategy; these customers may become more valuable in the future.

Your mindset

Reach out with minimal effort.

Strategies

  • Automated follow-up. This should not be a hard sell. You are simply regularly showing them you are of value, until they have need for you again;
  • Social media. Post regularly to remind them about you. Use automation software such as Buffer and Hootsuite to save time.

Once you can clearly place your customers into these categories, you will be far better positioned to achieve stability and smart growth.

Copyright © 2016 Shweta Jhajharia, principal coach and founder of The London Coaching Group.

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Like it or not - social media sites are starting to look very similar

February 01, 2016 by Marketing Donut contributor

Like it or not - social media sites are starting to look very similar{{}}Twitter recently made the decision to replace its Favorite button with a Like button giving users a new way to show their appreciation for Tweets.

Of course, Facebook has been using this feature for years. This sudden change at Twitter may have come as a shock to the system for avid social media users, but it's not the first time that something like this has happened. In 2013, taking a leaf out of Twitter's book, Facebook added a panel showing trending hashtags to its homepage.

Social media platforms seem to be slowly blending into one and to prove it, here are three examples of social media features that are now spread across a multitude of platforms.

Likes

To appeal to new users, Twitter has swapped its Favorite feature for a Like feature, symbolised by a heart. According to Twitter, newcomers often found the Favorite feature (with its star symbol) confusing and were unsure what they should use it for.

Crucially for businesses, it's likely that companies that use Twitter will get more Likes than they did Favorites because liking something has a much lower barrier than making it your Favourite. However, this move by Twitter could reduce the number of retweets and these currently generate the most social reach for many firms.

Video

It's hard to ignore the surge in video across all social media channels.

Recently, Facebook introduced an auto-play feature, making it impossible to avoid the viral videos that fill our news feeds. Image-sharing platform Instagram also introduced a 15-second video feature, responding to the micro-video craze established by Vine. Twitter rolled out 30-second videos for tweets and began offering promoted video ads. Even Pinterest unveiled Cinematic Pins, a GIF-like video feature.

Video sharing has even created micro-celebrities, including Cian Twomey, an Irish Facebook user who rose to fame after posting videos of himself impersonating his girlfriend. Cian's Facebook page now has over three million Likes.

Photo tagging

Anyone who has been tagged in an unflattering photo on Facebook will be unhappy to find out that Twitter has also adopted this feature. Rather than listing the names of the people in the tweet, users can now tag them in the photo.

Thankfully, anyone tagged in a photo can amend or delete the tag themselves. The photo will only appear in the original Tweeter's stream, unless tagged users choose to retweet. One thing worth knowing about this feature is that the default setting for private accounts is to not allow any tagging.

Like it or not, it's clear that social media channels are slowly converging on a single set of standards.

Copyright © 2015 Jessica Phillips, account executive at Stone Junction.

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Podcast: online lessons from 2015 and where to go from here

January 28, 2016 by Chloë Thomas

The most successful e-commerce retailers are always learning. But what did we learn in 2015 that can help us move forward in 2016?

The industry has grown up. We turned a corner in 2015. It’s no longer about the shiny tech - those who are succeeding easily are focused on how to best serve their customer and finding the right ways to do this.

In this, my new podcast, I have brought together three top e-commerce experts to review the lessons of 2015.

Chris Dawson, is co-founder and editor of Tamebay and a top expert on marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay. Alex O’Byrne is co-founder of WeMakeWebsites, the UK’s highest rated Shopify web designers. And Andrew Wilson runs his own e-commerce business, Allergy Best Buys.

Tune in and find out how what we all learned in 2015 could help you make more online sales in 2016.

Copyright © 2016 Chloe Thomas of eCommerce Masterplan.

11 ways to make your next presentation a sure-fire success

January 25, 2016 by Andy Bounds

Sales presentations{{}}People ask me loads of questions about presentations. So here are 11 FAQs and answers that can help you transform your presentations.

Q1: How do I engage audiences immediately?

By doing something engaging at the start. For example:

  • Use intriguing words/phrases - "I want to share a secret with you - something that nobody outside this room knows".
  • Use an emotive adjective - "We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity".
  • Use an emotive verb - "I'm really excited to be speaking to you today. Because…"
  • Teach them something - "Did you know…?"
  • Ask a question.
  • Tell a story.

Q2: How do I keep them engaged?

Keep doing engaging things. Think of all the things audiences like - stories, humour, impressive visuals and so on. And ensure you do at least one of them every one to two minutes.

Q3: What's the most important thing about presentations?

There are two - the beginning and the end. The start must engage - use one of the starts suggested in Q1 above, deliver it with lots of energy, have a good title and ensure Slide One looks impressive.

And the end must contain a Call To Action. If it doesn't, your audience won't act. For example, if your last slide says "thank you", they'll merely say "you're welcome" and then leave. If it says "Next steps", there'll be some.

Q4: What's the best way to structure a presentation?

The answer to Q3 showed how to start and end. But what about everything in between? Well, there are two structures that work well.

Firstly, to build a logical argument, use the 4Ps:

  • Position - the world currently looks like X.
  • Problem - and the problem with Position X is…
  • Possibilities - three solutions to this Problem are…
  • Propose - I suggest we do option Y because…

Or use this structure to build buy-in to change:

  • Why it's needed - explain the problems with the current situation.
  • Future vision - the ideal future we want to get to.
  • How we'll get there - everyone's actions, to move from the current situation to the desired future.
  • How we'll overcome our barriers - the things that might get in the way, and how we'll remove them.

Q5: How do I stop people looking at my slides?

One excellent way: don't use them. Or, minimise the words on them, so there's nothing to read. And/or press "B" or "W" to black/white the screen, so they can't see them.

Q6: How do I improve my slides?

The key rule: avoid bullet points. Trust me on this: nobody loves them. There's always a better way to present information. For example, click on the PowerPoint tool SmartArt (in the Insert tab) and you'll see loads of formats - barcharts, flowcharts etc - you can drop your points into. Also, high-quality images work well. Go to Google images, type in your keywords and you'll find hundreds of them.

Q7: How can I make my presentations more interactive?

Ask questions. Obvious, I know. But people rarely think their questions are part of the presentation. Instead, they prepare their slides, and practise their run-through - but they don't script/practise questions. Which means they tend not to ask any. So it isn't interactive.

Also, when thinking of questions, ensure they're thought-provoking - "Which of these five benefits will your customers find most valuable?"; not bland - "Any questions? Anybody? Please? Nobody? OK then..."

Q8: What if I overrun?

Never, ever finish late. Even if the audience seems to love what you're saying, you finishing late makes them late for the next thing in their diary. Trust me on this: they won't ever be grateful to you for this.

Here's a very handy hint: when you need to jump ahead in your slides, simply press the slide number you want to go to and the Return key - you'll jump straight there. The audience won't know you've jumped. Of course, you need to know what the slide numbers are; so, print them out in advance.

Q9: What if the IT doesn't work?

Don't rely on it. Take a paper copy with you, so you have notes to present from.

Q10: How do I remember everything?

Use notes. But put these notes on a hand-held card/piece of paper on your desk, not on the big shiny screen that your audience is looking at. Your notes help only you; the screen helps only them.

Q11: How do I handle my nerves?

Lots of ways, including:

  • Think in advance of the AFTERs - in other words, why your audience - and you - will be better off AFTER the presentation. Will you have helped them save time, be more productive, make better decisions, have less risk? And how will them getting these AFTERs benefit you?
  • Practise. A lot...
  • ...especially the start. Know exactly what your first two or three sentences will be. When they come out OK, the rest tends to follow.
  • Front-load your presentation with your best bits. Saving your best stuff for later isn't as good - they might have switched off if you don't grab them early.
  • Make it shorter and more interactive. It's very daunting to open your mouth thinking "right, I'm the only one in this room who's speaking for the next 60 minutes". It's much easier when you think "right, we're having an interactive chat for the next 20 minutes".

Copyright © 2015 Andy Bounds. Andy is a communications expert, speaker and the author of The Snowball Effect: Communication Techniques to Make You Unstoppable. You can sign up for his free weekly tips.

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Seven ways to find new prospects - and win them over

January 18, 2016 by Dee Blick

Find new prospects{{}}One of the hardest things about running your own business is ensuring that the right people know about you and can be persuaded to part with their cash. Here are seven ways to find and grow your customer base when you are targeting your services at a business audience:

  1. Make a list of the customer groups that your business will appeal to. This could include prospects such as printers, accountants, designers or hoteliers, for example. Four to six segments is usually enough to work with.
  2. Consider geographical restrictions. Are you only looking for folk in a certain postcode area?
  3. Do you want to target businesses of a certain size? As your business grows and changes, the profile of your target audience may change too. Business prospects that initially seemed daunting could become more realistic as your experience and expertise grows.
  4. For each group, compose a list of the compelling reasons why you are relevant to them. What are their deep underlying needs? To what extent can you satisfy these needs? If, on reflection, you realise that you would actually struggle to satisfy the requirements of one particular group, move on and focus on the groups you can target with ease.
  5. What are their present arrangements likely to be? If you pitch your business as a main provider when they're perfectly happy or even tied up in an agreement with a competitor, you'll get short shrift. If you position yourself as a backup source for when their provider can't deliver, it could open the door. I have generated significant sales for clients with this approach.
  6. Can you also market through potential partners or introducers? For example, a marketer aiming at small businesses could also benefit from targeting designers and web developers.
  7. Research done, use the internet to find the details of 15 to 20 businesses in each group you'd like to target. Pick up the phone and do a little research. Find out who buys. How do they arrive at the decision to buy? What are their existing arrangements? How likely is it you'll be able to move them away from their current providers? Building a detailed picture enables you to create timely campaigns packed with enticing messages.

If the thought of the phone terrifies you, use social media and business networking to reach out.

And don't forget your existing customers. Create some simple categories such as VIPs, those that have the potential to buy more and lapsed customers. VIP customers warrant your extra care and attention; a customer that buys irregularly warrants some extra marketing nudges to encourage them to buy more; and a lapsed customer is not necessarily a lost customer.

In short, targeting saves time and it generates cost effective sales, so don't short-change your business with a scattergun approach.

Copyright © 2015 Dee BlickFellow of The Chartered Institute of Marketing and an Amazon #1 bestselling author of The Ultimate Small Business Marketing Book and The 15 Essential Marketing Masterclasses for your Small Business.

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Why every small business should be using email marketing

January 14, 2016 by Marketing Donut contributor

Why every small business should be using email marketing{{}}Running a small business is hard work. But just because you have a small team, and you won't be buying a TV spot during this year's Champions League Final, doesn't mean that you shouldn't be investing in email marketing.

A common misperception is that email marketing is only appropriate for online businesses. This couldn't be further from the truth. Online-only businesses are a natural fit for email marketing, of course, but the expectation these days is for just about every business - from the restaurant around the corner to your local community organisation - to have an online presence.

Email marketing is affordable

No matter if your business exists primarily online or in the "real world", email marketing is exactly what you should be thinking about, for the simple reason that it's proven to be one of the most cost-effective digital marketing tools across all sectors.

Email marketing deepens your connection to customers

Customers who've already purchased - either through your website or at your store - are the most important target group for your email marketing efforts. The goal should be to turn a one-time purchaser into a repeat customer. Email marketing empowers you to do this in a number of ways.

The most obvious step is to make targeted product recommendations based on purchase history. In addition to product recommendations, email marketing allows you to deliver offers on specific products that, based on your customer's purchase history, are most likely to lead to another sale. And finally, you can send personalised birthday and holiday greetings. With email marketing software, all of these messages can be automated, saving you time and doing the marketing work for you.

Newsletters engage prospects

By visiting your website and registering for your newsletter, people have already let you know that they're interested in what you have to offer. Take advantage of this opportunity by sending an automatic Welcome newsletter that gives a bit of information about yourself, and lets people know where to find your best products and/or content.

Powerful analytics at your fingertips

Email marketing software offers powerful analytical tools that enable you to learn about your customers while you're communicating with them. Open rates tell you how interested people are in your content, and by learning what types of devices they're opening your emails with - desktop vs mobile, web email vs Outlook - you can tell whether they're opening your emails at work or on the go.

Click maps tell you exactly how many people clicked on the content within your email, letting you see which content was most interesting. And conversion tracking lets you objectively measure the success of your campaign.

Email marketing offers solutions for every business: big or small, online store or neighbourhood shop. Drive sales, increase foot traffic and learn more about your customers.

Sponsored post: copyright © 2015 Ian Roderick, communications manager, Newsletter2Go.

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