We’ve compiled these tried and true marketing habits of successful business owners, culled from years of observation and data collection, just for you. While every business is different, you can think of these simple habits as one-size-fits-all, with the results of a custom tailored finish. Read them, make them part of your own marketing routine, and take your business from the runway to the sky!
They recognize that marketing is a must, in lean times and green times.
An investment is different from an expense. Marketing brings customers, new and repeat, whether markets are up or down. Successful business owners know this, and keep their marketing robust, even in times of economic uncertainty. It’s a common mistake to cut marketing at these times. In fact, it’s during downturns that successful business owners increase their marketing. Keep your eye on the prize and stay the course. Your marketing is always the wind in your sails.
2. They learn (and continue to learn) about their target market.
Successful business owners know that understanding the needs of their target market is necessary to market the solution. Create your ideal customer profile, and research your current customer base for clues about the niche your business fills. Who buys from you the most? If you’re just starting out, use social media and survey apps to gain insight into that target market. Learn their likes, dislikes, their logic and emotions, and market using that knowledge.
3. They observe their competition.
This is particularly helpful in the beginning, and remains a crucial way to lead the pack. Successful business owners research their competitors, and assess their strengths and weaknesses. Studying your competition shows you where you can strive to excel, and reveals chinks in the armor where you can jump in and fill a void. Sign up for your competitors’ mailing lists. Become a mystery shopper to see how they’re treating your mutual potential customer. Then, implement ways that your business can do it even better.
4. They have a game plan.
Sure, Rome wasn’t built in a day, but there were probably some plans drawn up for the Coliseum. Clarify your vision, and set up a series of goals to get you there. Focus on combining achievability with challenge. Start small to grow big. For example, a new business might set a yearly earning goal, then design their marketing campaign with their marketing budget in mind (usually between 12-35% of gross revenue, depending on industry and individual financial factors) to meet that goal. Whether through direct mail, pay per click ads, email, multi-media, or all of the above, they launch their campaign with their goal always in sight.
5. They track results along the way.
Successful business owners know the importance of measuring results in order to know what’s working. There’s no sense in making an effort if there’s no payoff. Ask your receptionist to ask callers how they heard about your business, and write down their answers. Use marketing and tracking codes to understand which of your efforts is being most rewarded. You can continue to chart your course as you go.
6. They don’t confuse response rate with return on investment (ROI).
It’s easy to do, but when it comes to marketing, successful business owners have come to know better. If a business spends $2,000 to send 5,000 direct mail pieces, and gets 10 responses, that can seem disappointing. But, that’s far from the end of the story! If 60% of those calls close business, for an immediate revenue of $12,000, that’s a 500% ROI. When you take into account repeat business, referrals, and “tire kickers” who may buy a month or two down the line, the ROI continues to increase.
7. They diversify.
Consider all the platforms through which your customers can be reached. Reach them at home, on their mobile devices, out and about, through postcards and email, and find ways to drive traffic to your website. Write a blog, schedule engaging social media posts and maintain a presence in the comment section to let your customers know you care. Try new things, track what works, and have fun doing it.
8. They build their brand, and stay true to it.
Whether it’s the swoop of the “C” in Coca Cola, or the Golden Arches, brand identity is in our collective consciousness. Work to develop a logo and design that feels authentic to your business, and then use it in every piece of visual marketing you do. Familiarity encourages trust, both of which always precede sales. Let your branding be a beacon for the quality customers can expect, and eventually they’ll associate the two.
9. They build relationships with customers.
Whether it’s answering a question in a comment thread, returning a phone call, or sending a holiday card or birthday discount every year, building loyalty is key. Building relationships helps you keep up with customer needs and out perform the competition. It’s also an excellent opportunity to offer rewards for writing reviews and sending referrals. After all, according to Inc. magazine, it costs 5-10 times more to acquire a new customer than to keep one. Nurture those existing customers like family, and they’ll turn into repeat customers, and your best advocates.
10. They follow up.
If at first you don’t succeed…you know the rest. Just because a lead doesn’t turn into a sale immediately doesn’t mean the case is closed. Successful business owners listen to their prospects’ needs, their timeline, and follow up. Consider these statistics, for inspiration:
According to the National Sales Executive Association:
• 2% of sales are made on the first contact
• 3% of sales are made on the second contact
• 5% of sales are made on the third contact
• 10% of sales are made on the fourth contact
• 80% of sales are made on the fifth to twelfth contact
Contact leads regularly, at intervals, through several channels, such as phone calls, postcards, and emails. Create a schedule that works for you. But, follow up. Follow up. Did we mention, follow up?
11. They delegate.
“If you want something done well, do it yourself.” That’s a phrase to which many can relate, but usually results in the need for extended rest. Save the longevity of your business, and yourself, by letting others wear some of your hats. Successful business owners ask for help. Consider a marketing specialist, or marketing firm to help make your vision a reality. You’ll have more bandwidth to perform your service well and build your brand.
Most of all celebrate your successes. You've worked hard to earn them. Visualize your future successes as though they're happening right now, which is an important technique that you, a successful business owner, surely already know. Enjoy!