I spent almost three years working as a business journalist, interviewing Australian start-ups and small businesses on a daily basis.
A lot of them faced the same problem. Sales were good, but not great. How could they supercharge their growth without spending a fortune on marketing?
Despite what you may think, you don’t need to be a marketing whiz or spend heaps of money in order to boost sales.
Don’t believe me?
Let me hand you over to Mark Ford, who outlines eight ways that could make your small business boom.
Eight Ways to Make Your Small Business Boom
By Mark Ford
Flavia is a masseuse whose services I use when I’m in Nicaragua. Last time I was there, she told me she was worried about her business. She knew she had to do something to attract new clients, but she didn’t know what.
By the time my massage was over, I had 16 suggestions for her. I’ll share eight of them with you this week, and the other eight next week…
1. Pass-along discount cards
After each massage, Flavia should give her customers three pre-printed ‘pass-along’ cards for some sort of introductory treatment at a discount. The card should briefly list the services she offers, and then say something like, ‘You are entitled to an X% discount on an introductory treatment, courtesy of [blank space to write in the customer’s name].’
When Flavia hands her customers the pass-along cards, it’s important for her to specifically ask them to give the cards to friends, relatives or colleagues. The chances that the customer will pass the card along increases 1,000% when the request is verbal. And the best time for her to make that request is just after the massage, when the customer is feeling good.
2. Referral rewards
It costs money to get new customers in every business, including personal services. So Flavia should reward people who consistently refer new customers by giving them free or highly-discounted treatments. Keeping in mind that each new customer should be worth hundreds — even thousands — of dollars to her (if she runs her business correctly), she should be willing to reward people who bring in new business with, say, $50 worth of treatments from time to time.
3. Upgrades and ancillary sales
Every treatment should be seen as an opportunity to sell something extra. Flavia should sell massage oil, aromatherapy candles, incense, etc. And during the course of the massage, she should offer additional upgraded treatments (such as using hot stones) that may take a little extra time, but for which she can charge a reasonably good amount of money.
When your customer is relaxed and happy, you don’t have to push very hard to make an upgrade or ancillary sale. Flavia should shoot for upselling at least 50% of her customers.
4. Multiple discounts
Right now, Flavia works on a job-by-job basis. She doesn’t offer discounts for multiple massages. Experience proves that you can double or triple the income you will get from a customer simply by asking them to buy future, discounted services at the beginning of the relationship.
5. Posters and flyers
Flavia should be aggressive about putting up printed advertising wherever potential customers are likely to congregate. Prime targets would include the bars and restaurants at nearby resorts, as well as local shops and even outdoor markets. These ads should be simple and to the point.
Flavia shouldn’t have to pay to post her advertising. She should rely on the friendly relationships she develops with employees and shop owners to get her foot in their door…and then offer free treatments as recompense.
6. Local newspaper and magazine ads
Newspaper and magazine ads are expensive and generally not productive for small businesses. But when they work, they can be effective for a long time. Flavia should wait until her business is generating more cash than she needs and then use a small portion of it — maybe 5–10% — to gradually test local media.
When buying ad space, she should never pay the full rate, and she should not be talked into taking multiple ads. She should run a small ad here, a small ad there, until she finds one that works. She should double-test it — and then, if it works a second time, commit to multiple placements (but only at a sharp discount).
7. Cooperative advertising and recommendations
Flavia’s customers spend money on all sorts of things besides spa services. Flavia should figure out what those things are (by talking to her customers) and then make contact with the appropriate business owners, discussing ways of marketing on a cooperative basis. A very good way to do that is to agree to simply talk about the other person’s services while servicing your own customer. (‘Are you a surfer, Mr Brown? Oh, my friend George repairs surfboards.’)
8. Phone-message advertising
Every time a customer calls Flavia and gets her answering machine, that customer should be given a reason to call back and do more business with her. A phone message is a relatively small thing, but it’s also a very intimate way to communicate. Letting her customers know that she has a special on some new treatment — ‘this week only’ — might very well bring in a few hundred extra dollars.
Some fantastic ideas there. Be sure to tune in next week for eight more ways that could make your small business boom.
For Markets and Money
Editor’s Note: Mark has spent more than three decades dispensing wisdom like this…and now he’s compiled it into the most comprehensive wealth-building program in existence…
It’s called the Wealth Builders Club. It includes everything from extra income blueprints (which have the potential to generate thousands of dollars per month) to investment strategies outside the stock market, plus several of Mark’s bestselling books. Click here to learn more.