There are two key things small business owners should look out for throughout this year The first is to hang on to the clients you already have. Do whatever it takes to keep them, as it will cost your business much more to win a new client than hang onto an existing one.
Build value into every transaction and ensure you demonstrate that value to your clients at every step.
Secondly, get out there and keep winning new clients. It is businesses that are proactive and keep drawing lots of attention that will sell their way through this recession.
Here are five ideas from Bytestart to help you continue to win clients in a recession.
Don’t cut back on marketing
There’s a fictional story doing the email rounds at the moment about a businessman who uses lots of different marketing techniques for his shop, which is performing really well. Then he hears that a recession is on the way, so decides to cut back his marketing to prepare his business for the storm ahead. As he cuts back on his marketing he notices the shop gets quieter and quieter. “Thank goodness I cut back my costs,” says the man, “the recession is here”.
If it wasn’t so serious it would be laughable. If you need to control costs in your business, cut your own salary or get rid of the cleaner. The last thing you should stop spending on is marketing. Yes it’s OK to switch to cheaper marketing methods to make your budget stretch even further. But the moment you stop your business being out there, you will find the market responds accordingly.
Focus on a niche
Ask a friend to hold up a sheet of A4 paper stretched between two hands, and use the palm of your hand try to break it. Pretty difficult, yes? Now try again using just your index finger…. and watch as the paper rips. This is the power of focus. And it’s why you should find a profitable niche for your business.
If you sell widgets that anyone can sell or buy, you may find you actually sell more of them by saying you specialise in widgets for accountants, estate agents or bakers.
Faced with buying from a specialist or a generalist, people will always choose the specialist, even if they have to pay a little more. It gives your buyers increased confidence. And once you have dominated one niche, you can always repeat what you have done in a second one.
Use a variety of marketing methods
Marketing is at its most effective when you employ a healthy mix of methods to reach people. Ideally you will pick a cocktail of ten marketing ingredients and mix them together.
For example, you might combine cold calling with email marketing, online adverts, joining a networking group, public relations, writing to a blog daily, running a formal referral programme, lunching with old contacts, sending out flyers, and posting onto business forums.
Make sure you track and measure the effectiveness of each method. And if something isn’t performing, drop it for something else.
Follow up old leads
Go back over the potential clients you have spoken to in the last few years and start a programme contacting them again. Drop them an email, give them a call, add them to your email newsletter list – do whatever it takes to restart a quality conversation.
Someone that was once interested in what you sell may be interested again, especially if they have been in a contract with a competitor and may now be looking for a new supplier. Just because you got on well once doesn’t mean they will remember you, so don’t be shy about getting back in touch!
Improve your conversion rate
Once you have a nice flow of new leads coming into your business, you should focus efforts on improving conversion rates. Consider if you are attracting the right kind of leads and examine how easy the sales process is from the customer’s point of view.