What makes one business soar and another crash? BizLaunch Co-founder Andrew Patricio knows a thing or two about why, and he shared his thoughts on an exclusive webinar for 8×8 subscribers. I listened to the webinar, and below are my notes on how best to grow your businesses. While some of the points may not seem VoIP-specific at first glance, marketing, telecommunications, sales and growth are all interconnected.
Have a goal and a vision, and from there, build a brand. Once you have a clear vision for your business, you can share it with anyone. Come up with an elevator pitch. Build a brand. The first impression I get of your company is your email/website/phone call. Your logo is marketing. How you answer the phone is marketing. You need to work on both your “personal” and “business” brand. When potential customers think of you, have them think that your business is the best in your category. Always look professional. You should use technology to make your small business look larger, but above all, always be marketing. Peter recommends that 70% of your time should be devoted to marketing. Come up with systems for success. Think of it like writing a cookbook. If you have the “recipe” for success, you can be replaced. That’s the way you build a business.
Never stop learning. Build a team of advisors. Ask other business owners that you admire to advice. Learn from other successful businesses: read their books, read their blogs, follow them on Twitter. Ideally, find a mentor. You’re never too successful to have a mentor, a person or group of people that you can share your ideas, your dreams, and your goals with. You always need more training. The most successful businesses men and women never stop learning.
Find out about your customers. The more detail you have about your customers, the better you can understand. Pick your “favorite” customers—the type of customers you’d like to have more of. Write down how you can get more of these customers.
- Answer the telephone in a professional manner.
- Have an enticing web site.
- Make it easy for customers to contact you.
- Respond to emails in timely manner.
- Learn how best to generate referrals. You can ask, you can even pay for them. Have case studies and testimonials on your web site.
- Learn the benefits of social networking (Twitter, FB, LinkedIn, Groupon). Even if you are “not a computer person,” try it out and see how it works. One advantage is that you can hear what your customers are saying, positive and negative.
- Measure your marketing success
- Ask your existing customers where they heard about your company.
It really is more expensive to find a new customer than to keep an old one. Even if a customer comes back only once a year, it can grow your business by 10-15% over time. MAKE SURE YOU ASK FOR YOUR MONEY, never be afraid to ask for a deposit or collect money that is owed to you. Always upsell if you can, it’s “leaving money on the table.” Make sure it’s genuinely beneficial to both parties or you’ll appear dishonest.
Specific benefits of VoIP:
VoIP, and 8×8, offers communication tools at a price that small businesses can afford. This can be the difference between staying competitive with larger businesses and folding up your tent and going home. Here are a few of Peter’s favorites:
– 8×8 Exhibit Takes Center Stage at ITExpo
– 8×8's Huw Rees Keynote on UC Adoption at ITExpo 2012