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Partner with customers to increase sales

How can your current customers help support your business?

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I have the opportunity to talk to many small business CEOs each week as I interview those who have asked for a mentor. It goes without saying that the economic slump is affecting businesses at all levels, spurring many of them to seek ideas of how to bring back their sales, keep their customers and attract new business. As I searched for ideas for helping CEOs on this topic, I found a super idea in the SCORE Library resources. Have you thought about partnering with you current customers to help you increase sales and bring your business back to life?

One of our SCORE content writers, Emily Bosak, is the digital PR director for Markitors. The company offers digital marketing services to small businesses across the globe. She asked business owners, “What's one way you are looking to your current customers to help support your business?” She published this as a blog in the SCORE Library. I have shared this with CEOs and it stimulated some creative thinking for their business. I share some of these ideas here.

Bosak started out by saying that, “You need actionable tips on how to increase sales at a time when people are looking to save rather than spend. No one understands this struggle more than small business owners.” She shared suggestions on how you can establish a stronger partnership with customers to increase sales. Here they are:

Partner with customers on content: Getting insight about a specific industry that we service from one of our customers and having that individual write content for our social media posts is a great way to share different perspectives on business. Other customers are more likely to engage with the content if they know it was written by a real customer, like them. – By Jonathan Cohen from Generated

Encourage reviews and testimonials: Customers who have already bought and tried our service are always encouraged to post reviews and testimonials. This is a great way for customers who already love your brand to spread the word. Reviews and testimonials prove you are a credible and trustworthy business and offer potential customers an insight into what it’s like to buy your product or service. – By Megan Chiamos from 365 Cannabis

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Cultivate relationships: Often when there is an economic downtown the first expense companies cut is marketing. That is really scary for agencies like Markitors, as we can't keep our doors open without having a number of accounts. Fortunately, many of our clients have continued to invest in SEO during this uncertain time. Having the support and trust of our clients not only supports our business but strengthens our bond with our clients. – By Nikitha Lokareddy from Markitors

Get Customers Involved: No one quite understands the day-to-day use of our software more than the customers who use it daily. Encouraging customers to post or demonstrate how to use your product, service, or software is a great way to support your business while educating future and current customers. – By John Yardley from Threads

Adapt to fit customer needs: The best way to help your customers support you is by adapting your business to solve the problems they currently experience. Life is fluid, and the people offering what is needed ‘right-now’ don’t need to work so hard at pitching their customer base. I would advise businesses to look at what they could do differently to adapt to the changing needs in their market —as in that way their customer base can better support them through sales. – By Yaniv Masjedi from Nextiva

Incorporate the big picture: We ask all of our customers to help promote our business through social media and word of mouth if they enjoyed their experience with us. We also make sure that our customers appreciate that doing so will have a positive impact due to our good karma program, whereby we donate 15% of our profits to non-profit groups that work to supply clean drinking water in developing countries. When customers realize that spreading the word about our products will help us achieve that mission and not just improve our bottom line, they are generally eager to tell others about our products. – By Jessica Rose from Copper H2O

Take part in a group brainstorm: Brainstorming is often the glue that holds everything together. Therefore, your team members must feel as if they're connected when they're working remotely. Throwing around some innovative ideas is a great way to keep everyone on the same page! Stay on task with a messenger service like Slack or via regular Zoom calls. You can set up channels, and then brainstorm away in the comments. That way, everyone can respond during their own time and working hours. Be sure to set up a channel for fun things, like that new puppy or your marketing director's kitchen remodel. – By Blake Sutton from Electrical Knowledge

Cultivate community: When consumers are looking to support a local business, they want to support an actual small business in their community: their neighbors. People have seen the small business apocalypse and have seen the effects first hand. A new social awareness has come to the forefront in the minds of everyone who’s ever stopped in at the “corner store” for something on the way home. The person giving the referral already has confidence in the business, and the business owner will go above and beyond for their new customer with gratitude. This circle will inevitably lead to a higher level of service and better quality of goods, leading to more referrals and good reviews. By Melissa Mohr from Mohr Coaching and Development.

Dean Swanson is a volunteer Certified SCORE Mentor and former SCORE chapter chairman, district director and regional vice president for the North West Region.

Related Topics: SMALL BUSINESSASK SCORE
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