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Fast Good Cheap – Pick Any Two

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Think about that statement for a minute. Is it true? Sure it is! Especially for small businesses. If you want something in a hurry and you need it to be of good quality, it won’t be cheap. On the other hand, if you want something quick and you don’t have a lot of money, chances are it won’t be the best there is. Now we get to the combination most small businesses need – good and cheap. You’re right – it won’t happen quickly.

This is where the majority of small businesses and e-businesses find themselves. I fall into this category, too. We want to look professional in all our efforts, but we aren’t made of money. I need my advertising, my customer service efforts, my billing, my database management, my web hosting and everything else to be quality – and to be inexpensive. So what does that mean according to the equation above? It’s going to take some time. Patience is not a well-known attribute for entrepreneurs. So those who are lacking in this area will be excited by this article. I speak from the arena of attracting and keeping customers through advertising and customer service. Let’s look at some ways to gain ground in these departments without a lot of cash.

- Ezines - I know, I know. Everyone you talk with is screaming the praises of Ezines and Newsletters. I don’t intend to rehash the same ‘ole routine. I want to bring up 2 things that will promote your business at no charge with more speed than conventional marketing.

Advertise in your own Ezine.
I receive countless Ezines and newsletters in my mailbox each day. Many of them carry advertising throughout or at the end of the publication. Do you know that I’ve only seen 3 newsletters (besides my own) that had an advertisement for its own company listed. If you have a monthly special, a web special, a discounted price, a free product,… list it in your Ezine. It only makes sense to take full advantage of the database you’ve built.

Submit Guest Articles.
This is a long-time advertising/publicity practice that has rolled over into the web world. When you submit articles for publication in other newsletters you do 2 things: (a) you create a forum for your business or web site by placing it in front of the targeted reader; and (b) you create an image for yourself as an expert. “Those who get published must know what they are talking about,” is the common thinking. Both are excellent forms of advertising and over time they tend to have a snowball effect! Please remember to require the publisher to include your tag line (your name, company name and web address) with each article, and only submit articles to Ezines that fall in line with your target market. (Quick trick: submit the articles you’ve already run in your own Ezine!) Where do you find lots of newsletters and Ezines that fall into your target group? Check out: New-List - Appreciate Your Customers -
There is no better way to build a reputation in customer service than treating your customers well. You don’t have to let people run all over you. The statement I love is, “The customer isn’t always right, but he is always the customer.” Basically, show your customers appreciation for their patronage. It would have been very simple for them to choose another business to buy from. They didn’t – they chose you! Like using Ezines and newsletters in your advertising, showing appreciation reaps its reward fairly quickly. Think about it – when someone treats you in a special way, you want to be around that person. The same applies to customer service. Appreciation is cheap and it is wonderful for building customer loyalty. So exactly how can we show appreciation without blowing the budget?

Tell your customers “Thank You”.
Every time your customers buy something, tell them “thank you”. When they complain, tell them “thanks for bringing that to my attention”. At every opportunity, let them know they are appreciated.

Start a database.
If you can, collect the birthdays of your customers. Mail them a birthday card and they will remember you forever! Everyone likes to be remembered on their birthday. If you choose to include a coupon or discount of some sort, fine. If not, the customer will still appreciate the gesture. Also, send special information or discounts only to those in your database. I do this periodically and it goes over with a bang every time! I email articles I see on the ‘Net that I know would be of interest to my database. Occasionally, I email a discount “coupon” for dollars off on my services. Be sure to let the customer know these specials are ONLY for loyal customers

Get creative.
One company (named Dove Communications) would leave little Dove Chocolates on their contact’s desk each time they were on-site to perform work. Everyone loved the candy and remembered Dove Communications because of the innovative way the left their “calling card.”

Appreciation is best mortar when it comes to building customer loyalty.

Building a small business on a shoestring budget is not an easy task. Oftentimes the Fast, Good, Cheap equation takes its toll. But time is on your side and with consistency, and a little creativity, you will succeed!

Karon Thackston 2000-2001
KT & Associates
www.ktamarketing.com

Copy not getting results? Learn to write SEO copy that impresses
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Fast Good Cheap – Pick Any Two
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