The proverbial writing is on the wall. We are not going back to “normal”, no matter how much we cling to it. We as businesses need to ask the sobering question: “What are we going back to?”
Everything is changing, and I’m of the view that we haven’t even begun to comprehend the extent of the changes yet.
For most businesses, their customer profile has changed due to the effect of Covid-19 government regulations, and the pressure our clients are under.
In my conversations with several business owners, one thing they all agree on is that aquiring new customers is a pivotal part of post lock-down remediation. The challenge with this is that new customers will also no longer look the same as they did before!
In my bid to help businesses to deal with these challenges, I put together the following comprehensive guide on how to go about dealing with these challenges. I hope it finds you well.
Redefine Your Ideal Customer
Your ideal customers are most likely already affected by Covid – 19 in some shape or form. This is what you want to understand:
- Are they businesses (B2B) or consumers (B2C), or a combination of both?
- Is there a way you can expand your offering into either B2B or B2C?
- What new industries can your business operate in?
- Who are the decision makers in your new markets? Age, gender, location, job title, income, etc.
- Where can you find these decision makers? Online, social groups, industry events, etc.
Refine Your Marketing Message
While the nuances of sales and marketing are changing drastically in these exciting times, there are a few universal truths that remain, regardless of the circumstances.
The cornerstone of marketing is to have a message that is relevant to your customers, and then deliver that message in a way that they can relate to and understand, so that they will engage with your business.
Once you have redefined your target market, you need to create a succinct, but powerful message to your ideal new customer.
In a nutshell, you need to create a message that tells the story of your business. Then you need to break it down into 3 parts:
The whole story
The whole story is the story of your business, product or service. It should comprise mainly of two parts; what you do, and why that is important to your potential customers.
This story is no more than 3 sentences, and when spoken should not take more than 30 seconds. This is your “elevator pitch.”
Example (Insurance Broker):
You live a busy life and don’t have the time or patience to explore all the insurance options available to ensure you are getting the best deal. We have been working with consumers and insurance providers for the last 5 years, to figure out a way that ensures our customers are getting the best deals. We work closely with you to get deals that are the best fit for you, so that you can rest insured!
The short story
The short story condenses your whole story into one sentence.
It is the most pertinent parts of your story that you want to get across quickly.
When spoken will take no longer than 10 seconds.
Example (In line with the above):
We provide insurance options specific to your needs, providing you with peace of mind that you are always getting the best deal.
The abbreviated story
This is a quick snippet into what you do, when you only have a couple of seconds.
Example (In lines with the above):
Tailored insurance options.
Deliver Your Message
Now that you know how to explain what you do in various applications, it’s time to apply this message and get it to the relevant prospects.
Now more than ever, you need to have a website for your business. It’s the modern version of a brochure and the first place your prospects will go to learn about you and your business. All your marketing efforts will lead back to your website, so getting it right is essential!
- With the message you have created, you want to start with the abbreviated message, then expand on the message through your website, so that your customers eventually come to learn your whole story. The idea is that we all have short and shortening attention spans, so you want to get their attention quickly and slowly expand on what you do.
- Make it clear. Ensure your message is clear and educates your customers effectively.
- Make clear calls to action! What do you want them to do when they come to your site? Buy a product? Book a consultation? Download an app? Whatever it is, make it easy for them.
2. Lead channels:
Lead channels are the channels in which you get leads for your business, but here’s the thing; There is no secret sauce to untapped leads – unlike what so many guru’s are saying. You need to figure out what works for your business. I’ll try to explain these below:
Social media and digital advertising can produce massive results in acquiring new customers.
But it can also be a worm hole where you lose a lot of time and money over a long period of time. Here are just a few social media networks South Africans are using to get new customers:
- Facebook: Still the world’s largest social media platform. Use to target individuals to create awareness or sell products.
- Instagram: Owned by Facebook, use if you sell actual products, using highly attractive images of your product with provocative captions.
- YouTube: Owned by Google, use if you want to educate consumers and your business relies heavily on face to face interaction.
- LinkedIn: The main business social network. Use if you want to target salespeople, or Human Resources.
- Twitter: Used for consumers. Use to create awareness and educate your prospective customers.
- Google Ads / Business: If people are looking for your products or services, then you should consider advertising on Google. You can carve out your niche to reduce costs.
Not all social media is relevant to every business, in fact quite the opposite. Without going into too much detail, here are a few considerations:
- Is your target market business or consumers? That immediately eliminates certain social media channels for your business. For example, if you sell compliance training to large corporates, you have little business being in Facebook and Instagram. Guru’s will argue with me on this one, but results speak for themselves. Likes are not purchases.
- Is your product niche, or in high demand? If you are in high demand, you just need to create awareness for your product or service. You could use the likes of Google Ads or Facebook and Instagram ads to create awareness. Each will require specific strategies. Whereas if you are operating in a niche, you will need to educate your prospect, which will require a bespoke strategy, depending on what it is you do.
- There exists all types of nuances. In its simplest form, consider the above examples, Business Niche, Business in Demand, Consumer Niche, and Consumer in Demand. Each of these nuances will require their own strategy, and each strategy will be dependent further on the products or services you offer.
A brilliant platform for generating leads is through strategic partnerships, and yet it is so commonly overlooked.
Are there other businesses that are servicing your target market? Of those, which ones have synergy with yours (their products or services compliment yours)?
You could strike a partnership with those businesses, where they get commission or reduced pricing for introducing you to their clients.
Here are some steps to follow:
- Consider your target market profile, as defined earlier on in this letter.
- What services / products can you think of that they are currently using?
- Do any of those compliment your product or service?
- Identify the companies providing those products or services.
- This is the value you would bring to those companies if you were to start a partnership (commission, access to your customer base, etc.)
- Identify the right contact person. Reach out to them on LinkedIn or via the phone to discuss a potential partnership.
If you run a home renovation company, other businesses providing services to home owners might be electricians, plumbers, carpenters, etc. Approach companies in your target market and offer them a partnership agreement, where they get commission if you do work where they introduced you. Work for you, and additional income for them, for doing very little.
Similar to partnerships in that this is a golden channel for leads, but is not used well by most businesses, is referrals.
If you are doing good work, and believe in what you do, ask your customers for referrals. Someone they can refer you to that might need your services.
Funny thing here is you can ask anyone you have done business with in the last 6 months. Most people want to help, and just by asking, you get them thinking of ways in which they can help you. It’s very powerful.
With referrals and partnerships, most of the hard work of the sales is done anyway, because when you are introduced it’s usually coming from a place of trust, so you skip the education process.
The last point of call, and probably the one where you can get results the quickest is if you hunt leads directly.
Once you have profiled your target market, you can purchase “opted in” leads from a reputable provider. There are only two of these in South Africa. You can specify who you want to target (for example business contact / consumer, job title, location, size of business, income, etc. Depending on whether you are looking for B2B or B2C).
Once you have the details, you can use a combination of email or SMS’s to take your message to them.
This is a numbers game, and you will need to do this in volumes of at least 2,000 contacts at a time. And be careful of how you put your messages together and deliver them. Although this is bulk marketing, there are ways to do it that is not spammy, and is more personal.
Respect The Leads
One thing that will probably change for good after Covid – 19 is that businesses will treat their leads more seriously, due to their value in business.
Once you have created leads using the correct messaging and channels to start conversations, make buying from you simple and seamless:
- Explain to your prospects what the next steps are if they are interested in your products or services.
- Tell them what happens at each stage, and how long it takes.
- Have an FAQ page on your site, where you can handle common objections.
- Tell them about other customers you have provided products / services to, how they used it, and how it benefited from them.
- Once a sale is concluded, follow up and get references and referrals from them.
- Contact the referrals and put the references up on your website.
We as business owners are in for a tough time ahead. But we’re all in similar boats. I’m hoping that out of this crisis will emerge a new passion for doing business, creating a real spirit of entrepreneurship in South Africa.
This is a time for businesses to ban together, learn from one another, and learn how to get new business in the smartest, most relevant way possible.
I hope that as businesses go out to find new customers, they will respect and support other businesses doing the same and encourage and support one another.
And lastly, I hope that this provides you with some valuable strategy ideas to acquire new customers for your business.
May God bless you and your loved ones during these remarkable times.