By Stephen Abbott, Owner, Abbott Public Relations
“I have a lot of walk-ins, but very few sales.”
I hear this constantly from small, privately owned “mom & pop” stores, the backbone of America’s traditional economy.
They are attracting “customers,” but not the right ones. Business owners simply don’t realize that bringing in “a lot of customers” isn’t their goal – it’s bringing in customers WHO WILL BUY THEIR PRODUCTS AND SERVICES. I call these special people “high-value customers,” and they are the only ones who can keep a small business IN business.
In the past, options to attract and keep these folks were limited. Business owners would put an ad in the local paper and Yellow Pages, and hope for the best. But in the internet age, that’s not all one should do.
I encourage business owners to fully utilize social media such as twitter and Facebook, for starters, and move on to email newsletters and contests as ways to keep and grow a customer base composed of high-value customers.
For example, an antique shop can post newly received items on Facebook and in the twitter stream, a laundry can offer alteration and dry cleaning discounts for Facebook friends and twitter followers, a mom & pop bakery can offer a “Baker’s dozen +1” (14 donuts for the price of a dozen) for twitter followers who give the monthly “code.” One business gave a discount to ALL customers when they reached 250 Facebook friends by the end of the month. These loyalty programs generate a sense of community among online supporters of a business.
In-store sign-ups for email newsletters not only generate dedicated, high-value customers (as opposed to “looky-loo” browsers who don’t ever buy) it creates an automatic demand for information about products and services, and a ready-made audience for special deals or even “daily deals” a la Groupon. Owners can use e-newsletters – and newsletters posted on Facebook - to discuss trends in their profession, or to highlight items that are of particular interest to their customers. (Though keep these newsletters SHORT, especially if they’re sent out weekly. Daily emails are NOT recommended. Post daily specials in a weekly newsletter.)
Contests are another way to generate excitement and reward frequent customers. Again using in-store sign ups (or limiting the contest to Facebook friends or twitter followers) a contest – with an appropriate prize, such as a deep discount on product or service – generates goodwill and allows you to highlight and showcase the products and services.
Another great way of building up the number of high-value customers is to pick the slowest day of the week and offer loyal customers either big discounts or giveaways with purchases. A coin and stamp shop could offer a free (low-value) coin with each purchase over $50 on their two slowest days to generate more walk-ins.
These ways to generate the high-value customer are just the tip of the iceberg. These effective techniques, combined with Public Relations tools that broadcast your efforts through both traditional and New Media, can supercharge your small business’s sales.
The best news of all is that it’s cost-effective.
Abbott Public Relations can manage the social media campaign for a small business starting at just $49. PR components can be added for under $400/month – among the lowest rates in the industry.
Don’t risk another six months of pathetic sales that could endanger your small company’s very existence.
Abbott PR is located online at http://www.abbottpr.com.