6 simple steps to grow your market share

Published 8:46 am Thursday, August 21, 2008

Instead of shooting in the dark with your marketing plan, try putting clear-cut goals into writing. The following six steps serve as an outline for an extended marketing plan. They may seem simple, but these details are sometimes overlooked.

1. Generate awareness

Beyond designing brilliant advertisements, make yourself available. Build a campaign using all or a combination of print, radio, Internet and television advertising to consistently be in front of your potential customers. Let them know you are here to stay.

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2. Motivate your customers to buy

Give your potential customers a reason to take action toward your products or services. You have two choices: market your products and services as affordable or as the best value. Address their concerns, needs and wants. Find a way to make your products or services available to “test-drive” before they buy. If providing a sample is impossible, use testimonials to demonstrate your expertise. Remember your employees are also your customers and to treat them the same as you would your customers. Word of mouth is best passed by your own staff.

3. Establish trust

Clearly, your customer-service techniques are top-notch. But you need to earn trust from future customers. Promote your business by demonstrating your expertise: collect testimonial documentation from your loyal customers, publish articles you write about your profession and get involved with community business and service groups. Community groups help you to network yourself and your company within the business community. If you have representatives for your company, they should get involved with networking as well.

4. Get a commitment and more

Whether it is scheduling a free consultation or sending a brochure, you need to ask for the sale or for the follow-up appointment. It’s also imperative to offer complimentary products or services. You don’t need to be pushy, but why make the customer research and travel to another location to find something that you offer? Remember that most people buy a washer and dryer together; that is to say, from the same store. Are your products and services offered as a package?

5. Create opportunities

Standing still in business is the same as going backward. Change is constantly upon us and if you don’t prepare for change you can get left behind. Always be looking for new products or services to sell. Always be educating yourself. Always be cross-marketing. Create a strategy for generating referrals and look for new ways to reduce your customers’ perception of risk associated with your products or services.

6. Build a rapport

Once you have a customer, you need to maintain a positive relationship. You want them to continue to buy from you and to refer their friends and family to buy from you. Send them your newsletter or advice column, give them a courtesy call, invite them to your private open house or send them new brochures — anything so they remember you.

Advertising gets them in the door, you make them your customer. For example (and this is a true story), in the spring of 1999, I bought a new “used” vehicle. My salesman was Kevin and he was great to work with on this exciting purchase for me. Every spring for the next five years Kevin would send me a letter: Dear Crystal, I see it’s been a year (or two years or three years) since you purchased your vehicle from me. I hope everything is going well. I’m here if you’re ready for a new purchase. Sincerely, Kevin.

Wow! How did he keep track of all of my addresses? Actually, the part I found interesting is that the letterhead changed three times in those five years. I was his customer and he carried my name with him to each company he worked for. I’m sure he could tell by my address that I was no longer a likely candidate to purchase a vehicle in the metro area where he worked, but still he put forth the effort for five years. That was commitment.

Let me leave you with two questions: Is your company committed? Has your company forgotten any customers?

Try a new business card

Give someone a reason to hold on to your card by getting creative. Include a full color photo, an inspiring quote, a calendar or anything that is useful or eye catching. And oh yeah, hire a graphic designer. It’s a one-time small expense that can make a huge difference.

For a personal marketing consultation or to request a “Marketing 4 You” topic, please call me at (507) 379-3427.

Crystal Miller is the advertising director at the Albert Lea Tribune.