Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing simply means to build a community around your business. In order to do that, you need to have a very strong idea of what your business provides, and who your preferred audience is. Once you've established that, you can use tools like Facebook Pages, Twitter, and a blog to build rapport with your customers.
Social media marketing is best combined with real-world social marketing such as events, VIP sales, coupons, and other useful things for your customers. Business owners often make the mistake of blurting out marketing messages at every opportunity. Social marketing doesn't work that way – you have to provide timely, interesting, useful information (not always about your business) in order to build a community.
Daniela Baker, social media advocate with CreditDonkey shares a few tips to attract customers in a tough economy:
- Use a blog to establish yourself as an expert in your niche. Offer advice and tools for your customers
- Use Facebook to publicize events, link to interesting online content about your niche, and start conversations
- Use Twitter to provide short, timely information (can be cross-linked with Facebook), and let customers know what you're thinking
Referrals from customers are gold to a business. According to the University of Florida, referrals can be one of the lowest cost, most effective sources of prospective clients. Referrals by trusted friends and family are incredibly powerful – particularly to professional service businesses like doctors, hair stylists, lawyers, accountants, and financial advisers.
Businesses like this require a great deal of trust between customer and provider, and it can be hard to attract new customers through traditional advertising and marketing. However, once a customer is made, the lifetime value of such a customer can be high.
Getting referrals can seem like hard work, however, it can be as simple as asking. Ask happy customers for the names and contact information of friends and family who might benefit from your services. If possible, offer discounts to customers for bringing in new business.
- Ask customers during each visit whether they know of anyone who might be interested in your services
- Offer discounts to both old and new customers for the referral
- Ask new customers if they were referred by someone
- Offer an annual referral bonus period where customers can earn discounts or prizes for referrals
Social Deals Sites
Social deals sites are cropping up all over the place. The biggest players are Groupon and Living Social, however there are many niche sites like Gilt Groupe, Ascent, and others that cater to specific markets. If you are trying to lure a young, internet-savvy group of customers, consider offering a deal on one of these sites.
The key is to making a one-off social deal work for your business is to convert deal customers into repeat business. You may not end up making money on an initial deal, however, the advertising and word of mouth can make it worthwhile by raising your business' profile in this market. Consider offering an incentive for new customers to return like: waiving membership fees (if you are a gym or membership-oriented company), a discount on a second purchase, or discounts on purchases by friends.
The easiest customers to get are ones who have already done business with you. Online businesses like that track a lot of metrics about their customers know that repeat customers spend more money and spend more often than new customers. The cost of acquiring these customers is also much lower, since they already know about your business.
However, in order to bring them back, you have to know who they are. Building an email list is very important for marketing purposes. Consider offering customers an instant discount or free product for signing up to an email list. Once they've given you permission to contact them, you can send out monthly updates, coupons, birthday gifts, and notify them of special sales. The possibilities are endless.
If you've had experience attracting customers in a tough economy and have some tips, we'd love to hear about them in the comments!
Article Courtesy of Daniela Baker of Credit Donkey. For more information, visit their website.