Consider the twelve fast, low-cost, easy to implement marketing ideas outlined below.
- 1. Survey Your Customers.
Salespeople can tell you a lot about your customers, which is why they're the source of customer intelligence for many companies. Yet because their job is to sell existing products or services, as opposed to perceiving and addressing unmet needs, there are limits to what salespeople can offer. So get your own firsthand view as well by taking a shift on the sales floor or with a service crew.
- Why they buy from you.
- How they use your product or service.
- What they like and dislike about doing business with you.
- How you compare to the competition.
- What you do that "annoys, infuriates or delights" them.
Put these points into a short questionnaire and ask customers to return it,
anonymously, in the stamped self addressed envelopes you provide. Ideally, survey all customers during the course of three or four weeks, so that even a small rate of return will give you a meaningful sampling of opinions. Above all, be prepared to change to solve what customers identify as problems. If they complain of delayed order processing during peak season, for example, offering apologies or recommending pre-season ordering is the response of an internally centered company.
The customer-centered company hires more staff.
- 2. Follow Up On Every Sale.
Don't stop with a one-time customer survey, however. Regularly evaluate all your transactions with customers to monitor the quality of your products and services, and ask customers how you can improve it. Fortunately you can do this easily, again using a questionnaire. Keep questionnaires short, advises business writer Jacquelyn Lynn, and make sure each question concerns only one issue (e.g., "Was the delivery crew prompt and courteous?" is two questions, not one). In addition, try to avoid yes-no questions and offer check-off ratings in no more than four questions, ensuring that customers are putting their ideas into short answers more often than mechanically checking boxes. To keep the questionnaire well-focused and concise, stick to the big issues or the critical points. Begin constructing your questionnaire by writing out every potential question you can think of; then narrow it down to the six to 12 that matter most. An even more important part of follow-up than questionnaires is to thank customers for their business which you can do in a short note and put their names on a mailing list. Then send them any of a variety of useful mailers: notices of new products or services,
information about products and services related to recent purchases, sales notices, special promotions and newsletters.
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