Ask the Coach:
Q: Can you provide any information on what small businesses are doing today to sell more product or services?
A: Too many businesses make the mistake of focusing on generating more sales to first-time buyers -- rather than working harder to build sales with the customers they already have. Making the first sale to a customer is very expensive. It takes a lot of advertising and promotion dollars--and a lot of time, energy and money chasing dead ends--to land a customer. Yet, subsequent sales to that customer are relatively inexpensive and very profitable.
Cultivating broad and deep relationships with your existing customers allows you to focus your limited resources wisely -- building as great a share of their business as possible -- while your competition fights tooth and nail just to get their foot in the door.
Today, most American households have Internet access. A blended marketing approach for your business can maintain a high frequency of touches and provide enough content to keep customers engaged. Most customers choose to engage with you online because they are increasingly reliant on the Internet. Your company’s customized landing page provides a complete message but is slanted in favor of the topic most relevant to the arriving customer. The Internet has made it possible to reach out to an almost limitless market, at any time, and usually for little cost.
Anecdotal evidence shows that websites using both search engine optimization of organic listings and paid searchstrategies increase conversion rates because traffic goes up dramatically with links in multiple positions. Users choose to click more frequently on an organic listing when they also see a sponsored listing. "The Role of Search in Consumer Buying," a study by comScore (sponsored by Google) found that 63 percent of search-related purchases occur in offline retail stores. The results also indicate that 25 percent of searchers purchased an item directly related to their search query—and of those buyers, just 37 percent completed their purchase online.
Blogs offer a personal touch on the Internet
There's also growing anecdotal evidence about the grassroots impact blogs can have on sales for companies, especially small businesses. Business owners are discovering the best way to keep customers happy and coming back is by directly communicating with them utilizing Weblogs or 'blogs' over the Internet.
Blogs humanize the Internet and keep you in touch with what’s going on with customers. Blogging allows you to create an interactive customer conversation on subjects of mutual interest. People feel they can really have a conversation with someone who has a blog.
Communicating well doesn't have to drain your energy and creativity by spending extended hours engaging in community and regional meetings, telephone conferences or exchanging many email messages. Using blogging technology can allow you to connect with both colleagues and customers across the country to tell them what you are working on without having to be present.
Personally, I maintain four blogs to connect with present and future clients using a low-cost service provider. The Leadership Blog at www.coachingtip.com blogfocuses on leadership tips, the www.sobabyboomer.com blog delivers life tips to the Baby Boomer Generation, the www.CareerWomenCoaching.com blog provides tips for career women and the www.Ask-Know-Do.com blog provides answers to frequently asked questions.
Here are a few coaching tips for creating effective blogs:
Focus on what is of interest your customers.
Set up your blog so each post gets its own permanent URL/permalink and heading.
Think of your blog as a database so your customers can search for content in past posts.
Blog frequently and regularly.
Use striking images in your posts to gain favorable attention.
Enable comments to interact with customers.
Source: Ask the Coach (available in ebook or paperbook editions)