WORD OF MOUTH MARKETING

‘Word of Mouth’ is still one of the most effective marketing techniques, online or offline. In today’s tough market, businesses are fighting for their share of sales. If you can create a reputation and get people talking, you can win new business for your firm.

The best thing about word of mouth marketing is that it doesn’t cost the business any money. Instead, satisfied customers tell people about their positive experience of a business, a brand, a product or service. The key is to ensure that your current customers are satisfied.

Go the extra mile for you clients. Make them feel special – like they have purchased something that delivers real value to them. They will think positively about your business and your brand and will endeavour to tell friends, colleagues and contacts about the positive experience that they have had with your firm.

People do business with people they know and like. Many of us purchase a product or service because it has been recommended to us by a friend or colleague. If that friend or colleague knows or likes a particular product or service, you will most likely trust the firm that offers that product or service.

You can encourage your existing clients to spread the word about your brand by asking for referrals. In order to avoid coming across as desperate for a sale, take a subtle approach. Something along the lines of “We are glad you are satisfied with our product / service. We are very busy but we always welcome a referral”.

The golden rule is – “ask for the business”. After all, people generally want to be able to recommend someone to a friend.

TIPS FOR IMPROVING CLIENT RELATIONSHIPS

One of the most important parts of any business is maintaining and enhancing relationships with clients. This makes the time spent on a project more enjoyable, satisfying and effective. Improved relationships also improve the chance that the firm will get referrals and future business.

Be clear and open with client – This is the number one guideline for a successful client engagement. Be clear and open with everything from a sales proposal through to the final contract and this will assist in developing strong working relationships which should contribute to repeat business from loyal clients.

Get to know your client  – Relationships are better when the individuals involved take the time to get to know one another. Learn about the client’s interests. You will likely spend many hours with your clients so you should take the time to build a positive working relationship with them. Make it a point to learn something new about each client in every meeting you have. Once you learn something new, keep track of that information in your CRM system or in a client file.

Ask questions – When we ask questions we understand situations better. Take the time to ask your client how they feel about the service so far, what other services your business could provide, etc. Ask the client about their company – showing that you are interested will help them to feel like a valuable and important client of your firm.

 

Be willing to say “No.” – In many cases, clients ask us to do things beyond our capabilities or interests. When these new requests are outside the contract agreement, be willing to say no. Take time to understand both the client’s reason for asking as well as your ability to deliver. Don’t automatically say yes, because if you agree to something and then fail to deliver, you could risk spoiling the client relationship.

Be willing to say “yes.” – Sometimes yes is the right answer – and only you will know when. Sometimes it is worth going the extra mile for a client. Perhaps they are very profitable or they may be a source of good referral work. If so, then it may be worth putting in the extra effort in order to gain new opportunities.

Solve problems for your client – Clients want value. Deliver that value to your client by solving a problem for them. Whether you sell a product or a service, using that sale to provide a solution for the client will help them to see the value that your firm offers and will create loyalty towards your brand.

Exit Planning

Exit Planning in a nutshell

 This is a guest blog from Tim Luscombe <tim.luscombe@managementadvice.co.uk>

it is always a good idea for owners to think about an exit plan.

Most owner managers have put off thinking about exiting their business, or retiring, or what they are going to do when they are no longer working at the business they created, and feel responsible for.

That’s understandable. Most of us who start our own business did not do so with the sole aim of selling it someday. We had all kinds of motives, including a desire for freedom and the opportunity to do things our way!

However, at some point you are going to want some extra cash to fund your retirement, and with the ever increasing life expectancy and low investment returns, you are going to need more now that you might have thought, just a few years ago.

It doesn’t matter which way you exit the business, unless you plan to shut up shop and just sell the assets. Whether it is your family who take over, or your management team, or a third party, you still need to make the business as robust and successful as possible.

For most owner managers, step one is to get some distance between you and the business. If the business cannot survive without you, it is pretty unlikely anyone is going to want to give you substantial sums for it.

Acquirers buy a business (trophy assets such as football clubs excluded) for the future profits it will make for them. If the only way your business makes money is when you are involved, that is not so much a business as a job.

There are a whole range of steps that you can and should take to get your business in shape for sale; we are not just talking about being compliant with all the applicable legislation (you must do that) but structuring the business to address its weaknesses and enhance its strengths.

That process can take several years…and it is never too soon to start.

 

3 Key areas to business survival

Recessions, whether single or double dip signal a time for business owners to take a hard look at their business practices, and check what they need to do in order to still be in business this time next year.

 

 

Key 1

 The first question that needs to be approached honestly, is:

“Is your business making money or costing it?”

 The best way to do this is to look at your breakeven point.  Which is the minimum amount you can sell your products/services for, to cover the actual cost of purchasing/providing those services.

 May sound simple, but costs should include everything it costs you to operate your business, such as insurance, electricity etc. That is why the breakeven point will take into account annual expenditure in addition to raw materials etc.

Once the breakeven point is known, small business owners will at least be aware if any areas of the business, are losing money and adjustments can then be made.   This may include adjusting prices, lowering costs or dropping unprofitable activities.

 It may also be of reassurance, as low volume sales are not necessarily an indication of an unprofitable business, as long as they are above the breakeven point. 

Key 2

The 2nd area business owners need to know about is cash flow. 

 Where is the money into the business coming from, and what is draining money out of the business?

 A cash flow analysis will provide this valuable information.  It can be used to determine the most profitable areas of the business, (so efforts and resources can be deployed more effectively) and the most costly. 

This can help owners to plan to reduce their debts and structure purchases of business equipment.

 We can provide a cash flow analysis to clients and go through it with them upon request. 

Key 3

Recovery, good news or is it ?

When trade starts to pick up this can cause additional problems for small businesses.  All of a sudden, orders are pouring in, which need additional purchase of raw materials or extra staff to meet demand.  This leaves a dangerous gap of expense before payment.  Owners need to manage this carefully, to ensure orders will be paid quickly and additional funding secured.  This is where working capital comes in.

 The working capital is the cost of getting the goods or services the business needs in order to trade. 

If you know this, you can then calculate what you need to meet your day to day running costs, and what extra you would need to cover additional orders.  This information will help owners decide what finance to raise, or if the order is a worthwhile risk to your business.

 If you would like assistance in any of the above areas, please get in touch via telephone or email.

01225 751361 or sfoster@blomfields.com