As a podcaster, I speak to countless business owners every year. Some I interview on The Chaise Lounge or The Business Brush, and others I meet at interior design markets across the country. It is fascinating to learn how people get the phone to ring! No two strategies are the same. Many say all their business comes from word of mouth, and when I press further, they realize they actually are marketing their business every single day.
First, let’s get on the same page about what marketing is. Marketing is anything you do to communicate your value proposition. You may not realize how many aspects of your business do this. Consider the customer experience – how often do you answer the phone? Do you have an updated website? Has the styling and branding on a business card become dated? Do you use a general, free email provider? What contracts, systems, and solid procedures are in place? These items all, positively or negatively, communicate how your business runs.
If a business owner tells me all their business comes from word of mouth, I wonder if they truly are as busy as they should be. If presented the opportunity, could they take on another client? Do they have slow periods? If so, there is more they can do to focus on marketing, bring value to their customers, and land more leads.
My definition of marketing is very broad. For example, I believe phones are a huge component of marketing. The way a phone is (or isn’t) answered is likely a client’s first or second impression of your company. Do you allow calls to go voicemail? Are your calls forwarded to your cell phone? How long does it take for you to return a missed call or voicemail? An easy solution is to hire someone to strictly answer calls and schedule appointments. Most people think of this as an admin cost, but I believe it is a marketing expense. If you gain one client with a $100k project in a year because you were attentive and had a friendly voice answering your phones, wouldn’t it be worth it? Well, let’s do the math…
If you sign a $100k project that has a low-profit-margin of 35%, this would provide you with $35,000 to cover the cost of a part-time admin for a whole year. If this hire helped you land one a month… holy cow! Right?
Now that your eyes have been opened to what can be considered marketing and how paying attention to the details can vastly change your business, I want you to look at other areas of your company with a critical eye. How can you improve your customer’s experience? Why do you go to Starbucks when the gas station has coffee for $.99? It’s the experience – and believe me, it’s all marketing.
In the coming months, I’ll be sharing more on marketing to help offer new perspectives on how to improve your business and why it is worth your time to consider… even if historically you are a “word of mouth” marketer.