Promoting your business is often a long game. It takes time to build awareness, inspire trust, and complete the sales cycle. But, sometimes, you need to generate business faster. Perhaps it is a cash flow issue, or you have inventory you need to move. Maybe there's a competitor knocking at your door, or you are trying to hit a quarterly sales target. Regardless of what is fueling the urgency, these marketing tips will help you sell faster without compromising your long-term growth plans.
1. Take a shortcut through the marketing funnel
It is called the purchasing journey for a reason. Guiding a customer from start to finish takes time. If you want to drive business quickly, focus on people who have already made their way down that path--your existing customers. Jim Rudden, CMO at Spredfast, a social marketing software provider, calls this "fishing where the fish are." "Have you done everything you can to drive new revenue from the customers you have fought hard to gain, and who are your most loyal advocates? There are often quick revenue opportunities in repositioning a product or expanding a service," he says.
Rudden notes that this strategy isn't just about short-term gains. It is better in the long run, too. When you use a promotion or a discount to attract new customers, you tend to bring in one-off deals--people who are interested in the discount but aren't necessarily going to become repeat customers. Incentivizing existing customers to buy again can deepen important relationships. To do so, try a series of emails in which you customize deals based on past shopping behavior.
Another cost-effective tool is retargeting ads. These are ads that are served to people who have previously visited your website in an effort to encourage subsequent action. These individuals have already shown interest in your brand, so focusing on them as opposed to brand-new prospects is just more efficient. "Retargeting ads get a 10 times higher click-through rate than display ads," says Mike Sharkey, CEO and co-founder of marketing automation business Autopilot.
2. Supercharge your word-of-mouth marketing
Isn't it nice when your existing customers do your marketing for you? That's what happens when they refer your business to a friend or share their positive experience on their social media pages.
People are more likely to trust a recommendation from a friend than an ad. To drive business quickly, Rudden suggests "giving your fans a megaphone" by offering them a discount, as well as a coupon or gift they can share with a friend. This creates opportunities for deepening your relationships with your existing customers, while also "getting off on the right foot" with new ones.
To maximize effectiveness, be sure to make the discount enticing and easy-to-share. "Lyft is a great example of this word-of-mouth marketing concept done right. When you share their referral code with a friend who hasn't used the app, they receive a discount, and you as a user are rewarded with a discount of your own. It's a win-win for the brand, the rider sharing the referral code, and the new customer that Lyft just acquired," says Rudden.
3. Go ahead and rest on your laurels
Social media has made it easier than ever to keep customers and prospects informed of your success stories, new offerings, and promotions, and also to convey your brand voice. "Seventy percent of marketers rank social media as their top performing non-email channel. It's a low-cost tool for distributing original content to attract new customers while still engaging existing ones," says Sharkey.
But you have to deliver more to your audience than just promo codes. Christy Lamagna, president of Strategic Meetings & Events, uses social media to "show off" the work her firm is doing. Her team hosts corporate events around the world, so they share interesting photos, videos, and updates from their travels, as well as links to useful resources.
Building a following online doesn't happen overnight, but once you have done it, you really can use the channel to strengthen relationships and drive business. Lamagna's clever marketing reflects her brand voice while inspiring her audience to contemplate where they'd like to host their next event.
These digital efforts also help her extend more traditional marketing efforts, like direct mail campaigns. Lamagna partners with The UPS Store to send postcards to prospects and clients from her team's travels from around the globe. They also partner on various print projects, such as marketing material and event collateral, and The UPS Store manages the shipping for the promotional campaigns she creates on behalf of her clients. "We couldn't do what The UPS Store does for us. It would take way too much time and money, and we don't have the space or the expertise," she explains.
Your customers and prospects will be more open to doing business with you if you have convinced them, or reminded them, of your expertise. Just be sure you can back up what you are marketing. A great discount may generate short-term business, but if you are falling short on quality, you will lose all those customers. "If you are marketing something you can back up, a lot of times the rest takes care of itself," says Lamagna.