This is because there are many free techniques that can be used, which really do work. For example, surveys are a great way to successfully market a small business without any budget whatsoever.
Why surveys work
A small business is able to get a good idea of why a customer chooses their products by using surveys – and often, the reasons are different to the assumptions of the manager or owner.
Big corporations often use this technique so that they can identify products and services that their customers are already thinking of buying, and which will be worth promoting.
Surveys can also be useful by providing a unique opportunity for finding out which sections of the business could be improved, as addressing such areas of weakness is often critical in influencing the consumer’s decision to purchase.
Identify the ‘A-list’
Your company’s existing customers can provide you with a wealth of information, as they are the people who frequent the business and spend money. Every customer is valuable but a business will always have ‘special’ customers – for example, those who spend a lot of money. By knowing why your big spenders remain loyal the small business owner is able to concentrate on improving sales methods that work.
Building a survey
Customer feedback surveys can easily be created using small software programs, and then placed on websites or printed on postcards. Here are a few examples of good questions that you might ask:
• Was the customer satisfied with the service or product purchased? If not, why not?
• Why did the customer choose this particular business’s service or product rather than a competitor’s?
•How good does the customer rate the customer service, on a numerical scale?
• Does the customer consider the price to be good value for what was received?
• If the customer chose not to purchase, why not?
Offering incentives is without doubt a great way of encouraging feedback – whilst discounts often work well for repeat customers, they will not motivate someone who has decided not to buy. Getting feedback from both types of customers is important.
Small gifts or competitions can work well with this group, and it may even provide an opportunity to win back a customer. Sometimes showing that you listen to complaints, and follow up on such feedback, is exactly what’s needed and negative feedback is useful as it provides you with an opportunity to improve.
Referrals are invaluable for small businesses as they do not cost anything at all. Your clients will be more satisfied if a sales-focused environment is changed into one that is customer-focused, and such satisfaction can create walking, talking advertisements! The happier your customer, the more likely they are to speak positively about your company, which helps to positively build the brand of the business.
A great way of encouraging referrals is to offer a reward and by tracking which customers are sending new clients your way, something of value can be offered in return – good behaviour will be repeated if acknowledged!
Rashed Khan holds an MSc in Software Engineering and in the past has been involved in running a business. Rashed enjoys guest blogging on business/technology related topics and is currently guest blogging on behalf of Small Business specialists IRIS.