1. Market Research

It’s good to have a plan; and better to have the data and tools to make decisions easier.

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Profession
  • Family size
  • Income
  • Major challenges

IN-PERSON SURVEYS can be conducted in high-traffic locations such as shopping malls. By offering small samples of your product or a coupon for your service, you can gather feedback concerning everything from the product or service to packaging and advertising. You can achieve response rates of more than 90%, but expect to spend upwards to $100 per interview.

TELEPHONE SURVEYS are less costly than in-person surveys. But many consumers resent telemarketing and you will not receive as high a rate as in-person surveys. Expect a response rate of 50-60%.

MAIL SURVEYS are relatively inexpensive compared to in-person and phone surveys, but will only generate response rates of 3-15%. But mail surveys still remain a cost-effective choice for small businesses.

ONLINE SURVEYS can produce unpredictable response rates and data since you have no control over the pool of respondents. But an online survey is an easy, inexpensive way to collect customer opinions and preferences. And there are several good online survey tools with free and professional versions:

  • SoGoSurvey offers a long list of free tasks. To get a better understanding of the program features, skip the introductory page and go to the USER GUIDE.
  • SurveyMonkey is probably the most well known name in the field of survey creators, however with the free version you cannot export your data.
  • Typeform offers a ton of features even in their free version, including custom design themes and templates.
  • Google Forms is another good free option with lots of theme options and responses collected in Google Spreadsheets.

FOCUS GROUPS use a moderator with a scripted series of questions to lead a group discussion. The session should take place in a neutral location with means to record and observe the group members’ responses. At least three such sessions should be conducted to get balanced results.

PERSONAL INTERVIEWS are similar to focus groups, but are conducted on a one-on-one basis. The more interviews, the better results you will receive.
Focus groups and personal interviews usually don’t represent a large enough segment of the population to be statistically reliable. However, they can provide valuable insights into customer attitudes and issues related to new products or service development.

OBSERVATION by videotaping consumers in stores or at work can give you a more accurate picture of their usage and shopping habits.

FIELD TRIALS – placing a new product in select stores and websites can test customer response under real-life selling conditions. This can help you make product modifications, adjust prices, or improve packaging.

2. Define Your Message

Now that you understand who your target customer is and what they want, it becomes easier to market to them.

  • Your message should be what your customer wants to hear, not a laundry list of technical jardon and accomplishments.
  • Address what’s relevant to the customer.
  • Create an urgency.
  • Get to the point and emphasize results.
  • Use plain simple words.
  • Say something original that will be easily remembered.
  • Humor helps – make them smile.

3. Develop Your Identity

Your logo should not be just an attractive icon with your business name next to it.

  • It should tell the potential customer exactly what your company does in a matter of a few seconds.
  • It should be unique and easy to remember and recognize.
  • Your logo should be cost-effective to reproduce. The general consensus is that it should be no more than two colors. This isn’t as critical as before digital printing became widespread. Offset printing costs are based upon the number of colors used. So you can save significantly on large offset print runs of items such as business cards, letterheads and envelopes that are only 1-2 colors.
  • Your logo should be recognizable at any size. So save the detailed imagery for your brochure and sales sheets. 
  • It’s good to have a B&W version of it.
  • Once you settle on that perfect image do not deviate from it. Ask your designer to provide a branding guide to follow. Let your logo do it’s job.

4. Advertise

There are a lot of cost-effective options out there. Get serious about promoting your business and add advertising to your budget.

GET PUBLISHED – start out with your local newspaper. Sometimes they will run your business story and press releases for free. Ask if you can submit an article and include your logo and photos.

JOIN THE LOCAL CHAMBER OF COMMERCE – they can help you establish relationships with local business owners. They also have ways to help you promote your business.

BUILD A WEBSITE – a website can really advertise your business. People are looking to the web more and more and having a great website has now become a necessity.

BUILD YOUR EMAIL LIST – email marketing has lots of proven success. Having a way for customers to subscribe on your website will go a long way in developing that critical list that can be used in easy Constant Contact advertising campaigns.

SOCIAL MEDIA – get your business on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc and start sharing. Make an effort to post interesting content every day. Offer some discounts.

GET LINKEDIN – sign up your business for a LinkedIn account and run targeted business ads. This can be one of the best ways to advertise your business.

CONNECT WITH BLOGGERS – ask for reviews from the influential bloggers in your business industry.

GOOGLE ADS – understanding your target audience will go a long way when using Google Ads to help increase your bottom line.

FACEBOOK ADS – Facebook is an easy way to promote your business, Their advertising system is a good way to create more traffic. Get your brand in front of others.

YELP ADS – another great online outlet for customers to review your business and send more traffic to your way.

RADIO ADS – a radio ad is an excellent way to target geographical regions and reach a lot of people.

POST RACK CARDS, BROCHURES & FLYERS at local businesses and your Chamber of Commerce.

PRINT ADVERTISING – place ads in newspapers and targeted magazines. Use Variable Data Printing for direct mail to target your customers more personally. VDP has shown to increase response rates by 300% as compared to standard print.

BRANDED PRODUCTS – give out products with your logo on them. People keep items such as pens, magnets, t-shirts and mugs and will see your logo on a daily basis.

BRAND YOUR CAR – put your business logo on the side of your car with a clear phone number or website address.

CROSS PROMOTE – team up with a complimentary business and share each other’s products/services with customers.

ASK FOR REFERRALS from your clients. You can even offer a bonus for a reference, but make sure you stay in compliance with referral laws.

DONATE OR VOLUNTEER – donate products or services to show goodwill towards the community and get your business name out there.

A FREE TRIAL – find a low-risk, low-cost way to give something away for free. Everybody likes free.

DISCOUNTS & COUPONS – People love a deal and coupons are an easy way to get them to call or visit your store.

HOLD A CONTEST – give away a free prize. Have people sign up with their email to increase your email contact list.

SPONSOR A TEAM – getting your logo and business name on a local sports team is a great way to help kids and get seen. Also consider posting an ad in local sport programs.

WRITE THANK YOU NOTES – people remember personal touches. Sending thank you notes to valuable clients is a great way to maintain repeat business and gain referrals.

CREATE A VIDEO – if you have interesting information to share, create a video and post on YouTube.

INVEST IN SEO – optimize your website so you get high quality traffic from search engines. Combined with a regular posting program for better results.

5. Deliver Consistency

Consistency in quality, service and branding. 

BE EASY TO REACH – respond to emails and phone calls promptly.

EMAIL SIGNATURES – make sure your email signatures contain up-to-date contact information.

PROVIDE CONSISTENT EXCELLENCY in your products and services.

PROVIDE CONSISTENT VALUE – become known for providing a great product/service at a fair price.

ADDRESS COMPLAINTS promptly and respectfully.