MERGE: Simplify the Complex Sale in Five Surefire Steps

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Consider using social media management tools like Hootsuite or Buffer to help you curate and post content on your networks. On the other hand, leveraging paid social media may be a better tactic for your business, depending on your budget and audience type. Paying for social media advertisements and exposure is a surefire way to get content in front of your audience, without having to build up a network of loyal followers.

Whereas sponsored posts on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram simply get your content in front of the right eyes, Facebook Lead Ads allow you to advertise on social media and gather customer information such as email addresses and names. This information can make the difference between a follower and a lead, so if your business is looking to build its list, this might be the acquisition method for you.

Just like social media, there are also two sides to the search marketing coin: organic and paid. Organic search marketing is also known as SEO or search engine optimization. Think about it: When you Google something, you typically click on one of the first results if not the very first result , right? The idea behind SEO is to create content that shows up high in the search engine results page SERP and makes searches want to click on your content. SEO is far from an exact science, but there are some proven methods to help your content rank better.

SEO best practices involve creating indexable content — content that search engines can read, decipher, and index within a SERP. SEO and organic growth have also been reported as the number one inbound marketing priority for companies around the world. Instead of or in addition to organically optimizing your content, PPC allows you to create a search result and pay for it to show up alongside organic results, theoretically increasing your chances of being found by searchers. Learn more about search marketing as an customer acquisition method and equip your content and ads to perform best in search engines by using tools like Google Keyword Planner , SEMRush , Open Site Explorer , and Ahrefs.

What do marketers do with all that customer information they collect through other customer acquisition methods?

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They build an email list, and they leverage that email list to connect with and convert their customers. Email is also a great way to simply connect with your audience, whether by sending a happy birthday email or a valuable promotional email. Certain link clicks in your email can alert you to what your subscribers are most interested in. Furthermore, people that unsubscribe altogether can give you insight into how your subscribers view your emails and the content you share.

Email marketing is one of the few ways to monitor consumer behavior without having to ask too many questions. For example, social media marketing can promote SEO-optimized content that includes a call-to-action to join an email list. Mixing up and experimenting with a variety of customer acquisition methods can also help you learn more about your audience and introduce new tactics to your current strategy. Regardless of which strategies you choose, always leave room for analysis, improvement, and change — because you never know when customers may stop responding to your methods, or leave altogether.

Despite working hard and employing new methods to acquire new customers, sometimes they do leave us.

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Customer churn represents that percentage of customers that peel away from your business and opt out of your products or services. Why is churn important? Customer churn is what motivates businesses to find and acquire new customers. When you lose customers, you want to go out and find new ones, right? Instead of using acquisition methods to make up for customer churn, what if we worked to decrease churn altogether? What if we avoided the proverbial and pricey band-aid of customer acquisition and went to the source of the wound — unhappy or unsatisfied customers?

Instead of looking outward and onward for new customers to replace the old, forgotten ones, I propose that you look inward and work to retain customers using new and improved customer service methods. Remember how I discussed the marketing funnel in the first section? When your business circulates around delighting and retaining customers, your marketing strategy starts to resemble a flywheel, not a funnel. It can cost up to 25 X more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one.

But how can companies employ a retention strategy as solid and systematic as their customer acquisition one? These are just a few reasons to establish customer retention strategies — just like customer acquisition ones.

The customer retention strategies you put into action will vary based on your business model, audience, resources, and more. Here are a few examples of customer retention strategies that have worked for other companies. By connecting a mission to its product offering, TOMS has effectively brought customers back for more — more shoes and more impact. TOMS has built brand loyalty through promising to donate one pair of shoes to an international child in need for every pair purchased.

If you had the choice between two pairs of shoes, but purchasing one would literally go the extra mile, which would you choose? Customer loyalty programs are a popular retention method among companies, but REI takes it a step further with their co-op membership. Customer testimonials, reviews, and case studies speak a lot louder — and cost a lot less — than paid advertisements.

This is a nonnegotiable and means delivering on more than the basic customer expectations.

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To turn your satisfied customers into promoters, you must aim for customer delight, not just retention. Customers that stick around because they genuinely want to can provide far greater value than increased revenue — they can act as your best marketers, too. Whether through case studies, interviews, reviews, or user-generated content, ask your customers to tell their own stories of how they came to discover your business and why they love it. Instead of boasting about your own company via paid advertising or social media, pass the microphone and let your customers do it for you.

Create Click to Tweet links so that your customers can easily share social posts, and ensure each piece of published content has options to share via email or social media. Creating a referral program is a surefire way to bring in new business through your customers. Offering incentives — whether credit, physical gifts, or monetary rewards — is usually the best way to motivate a customer to share about your company and compensate them in return.

If you consider a customer referral valuable for your business, you must provide something equally valuable as a trade. While a structured, incentive-based program typically works best for B2C companies, B2B companies might have better luck asking for direct referrals from their customers.

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  7. Whichever referral strategy you choose, be sure to provide value first and ask questions later. Both of these are important metrics to calculate and compare when reviewing marketing and sales efforts. The information detailed here will assist you in making intelligent marketing decisions and implementing business strategies. Step five requires you to provide a detailed description of your business. You will want to include information such as how the framework of your company and its owners, management, employees, location, structure, products, services, and various resources will sit within the current and future market.

    An effective competitive analysis should be succinct yet detailed. You need not exceed the five basic steps comprising the competitive analyses. The importance of writing a competitive analysis cannot be emphasized enough.

    While your general business plan states how your business compares to others within the same industry, it is nearly impossible to make an accurate prediction of how your company, its products, and its services will fare in the marketplace in relation to the experience of your competitors. Constructing a careful analysis drawn from your research enables you to inject the relevant data and analyses to support the performance assumptions listed at the beginning of your business plan.

    As a reminder, the collective of competitor-related data and the research you delve into should all be procured well before starting your business plan. Your market analysis should offer a comprehensive overview of the marketplace as it is in the present day, along with the positions your competitors hold within the market. Provide a description of the current market and industry you wish to enter.

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    This section should include any pertinent information about potential shifts in consumer needs and demands, educated opinions about projected growth, the anticipation of trends or economic cycles, and overall product and service performance in the present and future. Describe your customers by detailing the product or service that satisfies their needs.

    In this section, you will need to describe how big the market is. Using your market research and data analyses, you will be able to detail if the market is growing or shrinking, and as a result, you can also pinpoint when and how your company will enter the market. Also, include within this section any research that supports your predictions for future growth and overall success. This step entails describing, in detail, the specific and various pricing structures practiced by your company, and in addition, those of your competitors. This concluding step involves a brief summation of the highlights and most salient points found within the competitive, industry, and marketing analyses to strategize market superiority and positionality.

    This section will require you to use hard facts and verifiable numbers. Some of the best and most reliable sources for this kind of information include:. This is the section that will help you outline how you are going to build a brand that not only attracts customers but retains them and is competitive enough to stay afloat and prosper. There are several questions you need to consider when crafting your marketing plan. These include:. A well-crafted marketing plan gives you complete control over your business.

    It allows you to make the right decision when it comes to critical components of running the business such as:. The most crucial aspect to bear in mind is that you will have to review and update this part of your plan more regularly than almost every other section. That is primarily because the market environment is very dynamic, meaning customer needs and desires are constantly changing in accordance with trends and other forms of aggressive marketing.

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    Discuss in detail the strategies you are putting in place to facilitate the communication processes between your company and its customer base. Akin to the engine that runs a machine, your operating plan runs the machinations of your business. Not having an operations plan in place often results in dire consequences with nothing of importance being accomplished, including meeting benchmarks, short-term goals, and long-term goals.

    The absence of an operations plan renders a business and its activity stagnant. The overall importance of the operations plan translates into increased time and effort needed to complete this section of the business plan. While the operations plan section of a business plan is sizably larger than the other sections, an easy and effective method of completing it is to combine it with the Team and Management section listed below. You can then rename it as the Operations and Management Plan, subsequently writing the details for the section by creating a chart that shows the title of employees and managers and their respective duties, responsibilities, and supervisorial capacities.

    This section discusses the various people who comprise the management team and ownership of the company. Readers from within and outside the organization should be able to clearly, and easily, identify the people who are in charge of the business and how the business hierarchy is constructed.

    While this section does not need to be lengthy or overly complex, the scale of the writing remains dependent on the sheer size of the company and the number of owners, partners, and upper management personnel that exists. As such, the team and management section of a business plan written by a sole proprietorship will be significantly shorter than the same section written by a sizeable company with key members, i. Regardless of length, the team and management section of your business plan should always clearly list the owners and managers.

    This serves to remove any confusion about the figures in charge of the organization, which is a benefit for employees, customers, and people new to the enterprise. Additional information pertaining to the company should include the points listed below. Dependent on company-related specifics, the depth and breadth of each bullet point may vary in terms of overall length.

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