8 Steps to Grow Your Small Business
Small businesses come in many shapes and forms, from professional and personal services providers to retailers to manufacturing. But one thing that almost all have in common
is the desire to grow revenues and increase profits. To do this, the business must attract new customers, and keep existing customers happy so that they’ll come back for more
and recommend the company to others.
But connecting with both prospects and customers in a meaningful and organised way can be time consuming – especially now, when they expect more responsive and personalised offers, interactions and customer service than ever before.
To engage and retain today’s savvy customers, small businesses need an effective approach to create, nurture and convert leads, and to foster repeat business and referrals. But too often, small businesses try to grow the business with a tangle of disjointed point solutions – which are likely to get in the way of growth instead of enabling it.
Sound familiar? Then read on to learn how an automated, integrated sales and marketing process can provide the foundation your business needs to grow.
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The Small Business Dilemma
Every small business wants to grow revenues and operate more profitably. But this is easier said than done! More than half of new companies fail within the first four years, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics. The good news is that if you make it through start-up mode, you’ve beaten the odds. The bad news is that as you build the business, your challenges change and marketing becomes more complicated.
A few stand alone tools, such as contact management, e-mail marketing, a Facebook page and a web site, may suffice to get your business started. But they can only take you so far. Without an integrated and automated way to manage sales and marketing activities, you’ll eventually hit the wall. As Julie Goldman, owner of The Original Runner Company learned, when your to-do list gets too long to get done, leads can go cold. Conversion rates can slide. Repeat business and referrals can drop off. Without a good way to track customer touch points and results, it’s hard to figure out what’s working and what’s not.
The Original Runner company , based in Montclair, NJ uses automated follow up to
improve lead conversions by up to 60% and referrals up to 80% for its unique non
slip wedding aisle runner business.
"Not all injuries were tracked and leads didn't get followed up with. More often than not, those leads ended up going cold" - Julia Goldman, The Original Runner Company
1. Get Organised, Automated and Integrated
Just a Minute, an Arizonian firm, offers subscription based compliance services for small businesses, has streamlined marketing and boosted renewal sales to 80%.
"We were trying to stitch together a million different systems. We were losing clients because we weren't effective in our follow-up, our renewal rate was slipping and we were spending hours on repetitive, manual tasks". - Linda Allen, Co-Owner, Just A Minute
Trying to make several individual solutions work together is not only difficult; it can hinder growth, waste time and cost you money.
So it's not wonder that SMB Group's 2011 SMB Routes to Market Study indicates that 20% of small businesses are planning to deploy an integrated marketing automation solution within the next 12 months. A unified system consolidates data in one place, making it easier to organise leads, run campaigns, close business, get referrals and increase repeat sales.
Take it from Just A Minute, which had used a hodgepodge of email marketing, contact management and e-commerce solutions that didn't 'talk to each other'. The company was losing 40% of its renewals because it relied on inefficient manual methods to track down renewal information. Since integrating the marketing process, Just A Minute has doubled renewals from 40% to 80%.
Integrating these activities also gives you back some of what is very likely your most precious resource: time.
2. Attract New Customers
Top Reasons Small Businesses Use Marketing Tools:
1. Increase Brand Awareness
2. Generate Leads
All businesses must continually attract new customers to grow. As people increasingly turn to the internet and social media to gather information and shop, your business needs to take full advantage of online marketing to connect with new customers.
Gleason Financial Group learned this the hard way. In its first two years of business, Gleason had middling success with direct mail. Bu in 2007, a $10k direct mail campaign generated zero leads - leaving the company without a pipeline and with the prospect of potential bankruptcy.
Gleason needed a better way to attract and engage with new prospects. Using integrated marketing, Gleason can capture leads online with educational "lead magnets" and web - forms, and nurture them with a sequence of follow-up emails. When the prospect is engaged and ready, Gleason schedules an in-person meeting. The approach has also enabled Gleason to launch an automated client referral program that has doubled referral business for the company.
Gleason Financial Group, a phoenix Arizona firm, that provides tax a preparation and financial services to retirees, using Keap to capture leads, engage prospects and get the sale when customers are ready to buy.
"We've automated a ton of processes, especially around prospect education and customer follow-up. It's been huge for us." - Jeanette Gleason, Co-Owner, Gleason Financial Group
3. Grow Revenues
Iron Tribe Fitness, a fitness regime franchise, headquartered in Homewood, Alabama, has hit its house targets using a strategic and automated sales and marketing CRM process.
"In a recent six month period, Iron Tribe Fitness converted 542 leads from web-form to clients via Infusionsoft by Keap". - Jim Cavale, Iron Tribe Fitness
Growing revenues is a top goal for any business. Achieving and sustaining growth, however, requires systems to support added scale and volume. SMB Group's 2012 SMB Routes to Market Study revealed that small businesses that use marketing automation solutions are 21% more likely to forecast revenue growth than those that don't.
An integrated, automated system enables you to execute a well-crafted sequence of online and traditional promotions and campaigns, including customised landing pages, tailored nurturing progams and referral programs. For small businesses, of course, the system needs to both have the horsepower to support growth and be easy to use.
Iron Tribe Fitness found the right fit and fine-tuned its marketing and sales process to build on early success and scale its business. Having the ability to capture leads with web forms, identify individual preferences and automate and integrate everything from live events to social media campaigns has helped Iron Tribe convert 46% of its leads in a recent six-month period.
4. Shorten Sales Cycles
Lengthy sales cycles not only frustrate sales people; they decrease productivity and slow down cash flow into the business. When sales reps have to answer the same questions over and over for every new prospect, it usually means that marketing isn’t doing a good job priming the pumps.
Your marketing system should prep prospects for the sale, providing them with targeted information that moves them through the funnel based on individual behaviour. When it works, sales reps get leads when the prospect is educated and pre-disposed to buying – shrinking the sales cycle.
At H.U.M.A.N. Healthy Vending, sales reps had been spending a gruelling 8 to 10 hours educating each prospect. Recognising that this sales sinkhole could sink the company, H.U.M.A.N.
Healthy Vending turned to integrated marketing to provide personalised, automated information to each prospect. Now, sales reps can focus on qualified leads – based on prospect behaviours such as email open rates, report downloads and webinar attendance – slashing the sales cycle down to 2 or 3 hours.
H.U.M.A.N. Healthy Vending , an LA based healthy foods vending machine business slashed sales cycles, grew revenues from $0 to $3 million in 12 months and earned a spot on Entrepreneur Magazines 100 Brilliant Companies List.
"By the time a prospect gets to a salesperson, they are educated, pre-qualified and pre-disposed to buy". - Andy Mackensen, Co-Founder of HUMAN Healthy Vending
5. Increase Profitability
Hear and Play Music, which provides online music lessons, has created a high touch and highly profitable business, and also gives the owner the work life balance he desired.
"Profitability is the most important thing to me. I have a a work life balance with more life than work". - Jermaine Griggs, Hear & Play Music
Some small businesses want to grow and scale up, while others want to remain small. But all businesses want to be profitable, and most small business owners want to maintain
The formula for profitability is simple: the difference between revenues and expenses. But this is easier said than done. Achieving and increasing profits requires that you maximise the value of every sale. To do this, you need to do things faster, better and more efficiently so you both delight the customer and save time, money and your own sanity.
After being stuck in a revenue and profit rut for several years, Hear & Play Music implemented marketing automation to roll out a personalised follow-up campaign for each client. Each
campaign is triggered by demographic or behavioural tags that Hear & Play Music “choreographs” to customer events, such as birthdays, and where the client is in the lesson plan.
With this system, Hear & Play Music has doubled growth, “profits have exploded”, and owner Jermaine Griggs has achieved his goal of work-life balance.
6. Increase Repeat Business
Once you’ve worked hard and attracted customers, you want to keep them coming back for more. Sales to existing customers cost less, and these customers are easier to service because
you're already understand their needs. If they’ve had a positive experience with your business, they are likely to purchase more often and buy higher value products or services. And if they
become raving fans, they will likely refer others to your business. To maximise repeat business, you need to know as much as possible about your customers, and use that information to
tailor your engagement as their needs evolve.
For Hear & Play Music, the nurturing starts when the customer places his or her first order. The integrated marketing campaigns include special offer postcards, thank you cards, text messages, birthday cards, special offers and gifts. Each campaign is triggered by what the individual customer does or doesn’t do.
Needless to say, this type of sequenced, personalised follow-up would be all but impossible without an integrated marketing solution.
Hear and play music has increased its average customer life time value from $90 to $374 using integrated marketing campaigns.
"Even repeat customers were new to us before Infusionsoft. Now, we can talk to them like a friend". - Jermaine Griggs, Hear & Play Music
7. Look Bigger and More Professional
Backbone Communications , provides curriculum planning and student assessment software to schools and users integrated marketing to give it sales reps warm leads instead of cold calls.
"Sales people love it. I can do things on behalf of a sales rep... this means they have warm calls not cold calls" Josh Leitz, Backbone Communications
Prospects and customers need to feel comfortable that although your business may be small, you will take care of their needs efficiently and effectively. As a small company, it’s imperative to project a competent, professional image to make your business a safer choice.
But how do you do this without a full-time marketing person or web master? While you certainly should not lie about the size of your company, you can convey a more professional image with an integrated marketing solution. A clean, easy-to-navigate web site, personalised marketing campaigns and timely follow-up help you put your best foot forward and develop a professional image that communicates confidence.
After using a few standalone marketing and contact management tools for several years, Backbone Communications’ regional sales director and part-time chief marketing officer Josh Leitz wanted one system to do everything – CRM, web forms, surveys and e-mail marketing.
With an easy-to-use, integrated marketing solution designed for small business, Josh can now create and automate the marketing and sales follow-up sequences his sales reps need to shine.
8. Enter New Markets
Sometimes the best business opportunity is in entering a new market. Even when business is good, you need to proactively seek out new opportunities as a hedge against the possibility that
your current products or services will become static or decline. Unfortunately, too many small businesses get caught flat-footed even when opportunity knocks on the door because they don’t
have the operational agility to scale or to recognise and adapt to new customer requirements.
After using marketing automation to expand and grow its own business from one to two locations, Iron Tribe Fitness realised that a franchise model would give it the horsepower necessary to scale the business. Using its Keap marketing automation solution as a foundation, Iron Tribe developed a turnkey system to get franchisees up and running quickly and efficiently.
Having a proven, replicated marketing system has also helped Iron Tribe Fitness attract qualified franchisees. Since launching its franchise model in 2012, Iron Tribe has opened 30 new franchise locations.
Iron Tribe fitness use Keap to automate sales and marketing for its own and franchise stores.
"Keap has helped us build two businesses: our Iron Tribe Fitness owned stores and our franchise operation." - Jim Cavale, Iron Tribe Fitness
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