A recent conversation with a millennial business owner confirmed what I’ve suspected for some time: Facebook and IG (Instagram) are still viable platforms for promoting your business, but if you choose to go the paid advertisement route, be prepared for higher costs and possibly lower returns. Even if folks click on your ad the first time around, but don’t make a purchase of a product or reach out to contact you about a service, your campaign is only half-successful. To complete thee conversion into sales, you’ll have to re-target your advertising to those who clicked your ad, possibly with different content and messaging that may be better at persuading these folks to complete what we call the ‘sales funnel” and make a purchase or reach out to you with their information. I’m not saying that social media platform advertising has lost its luster; it’s still a great way to generate leads (and sales) for most business owners. But be mindful that one ad rarely suffices, and unless you’re willing to invest in a series of re-targeting ads, and trying out split testing, you’re not going to get the results you want as quickly as you want. This, of course, requires planning and budgeting.
For those who lack the resources for the above strategy, consider what you already have: your existing book of business. Email marketing using free web-based services such as MailChimp is one way by which you can shift your business development to focus on getting referrals from past and current customers, instead of working to capture new ones.
Existing or past customers are a key source of referrals and repeat business for all of us. But like prospective customers, you need to be on their “radar” in order for them to think about what you can do for people within their own respective networks. On idea is to set up a MailChimp account and create a list for your past clients with whom you haven’t communicated for a while. If you have an existing MailChimp account, set up a separate contact list and title it as such. All you need is a first name, last name and email address for each contact.
This is essentially a data-entry project. It may require going through all your files to input names and email addresses. But remember that once you get this done (or hire someone to do it for a minimum hourly rate e.g. an intern), you don’t have to do it again. Let’s say you have 150 clients you’ve worked with in the past. You can reach out to them to ask for testimonials and/or share with them a special offer that you make available from prospective clients referred to you when your client contacts forward the email to them (i.e. refer you to others). For almost no money at all, you can refresh your relationships with these past clients, who may actually know someone who could use your service or product as they did.
Again, you’ve got to be committed to a series of emails that breathe new life into your connections to past clients. They need fresh education on what you do, and how well you do it. And always remember to include a “call-to-action” such as “forward this email to someone you know who may benefit from what I do as you have and they will receive “xyz” (e.g. 15% discount).
Even if one person out of 100 past clients refers you to a fresh prospect, and the latter becomes a client, that’s still new business for almost no money at all!
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