Every bootstrapping entrepreneur knows that they need to spend more time on their advertising strategy, but for one reason or another don’t. I belive the reason for this is that it is often expensive and time consuming to figure out the ins and outs of all the various ways you can advertise your business to drive new customer traffic in the door. Everything from pay per click (PPC) ads, banner ads, social media marketing, yellow pages, radio and television is offered up by pushy sales reps trying to convince you that their solution will provide a ROI. I say ignore all of this and focus on this: YOUR BEST CURRENT CUSTOMERS!!!
In my blog post covering the science of going viral, I talked about the process of creating a viral loop. The basic idea is that if you can get your best customers to refer at least 3 people to your business every month/quarter/year (depending on the sales cycle of your business), and then get at least 50% of those referrals to do the same you will create a viral loop that will deliver a tremendous amount of growth for your business.
The problem is that most entrepreneurs work so hard in their business, they don’t spend enough time working on their business. What I mean is that strategic activities like planning out your advertising campaigns typically take a back burner to the activities that are more tactical like creating and delivering your product or service. Therefore, the strategic activity of setting up a system to nurture the development of a viral loop is often overlooked.
Your advertising strategy should focus on how you will nurture your list of best customers and expand the number of customers in this list. If you do this you will be able to merge your strategic planning and tactical execution efforts together. Below are four ideas on how you can get started with this:
- If you are already sending email newsletters, then segment your list between regular customers and your best customers. The content and information you send to your best customers should not be the same as what you send to everyone else. If you are not sending an email newsletter then you should start. But don’t start with everyone, only worry about sending a newsletter out to your best customers.
- Make sure you tell your best customers that they are your best customers. Make a point to state this both in the email newsletter you send to them and in person when possible.
- That money you were spending on PPC, banner, yellow pages, radio, television advertising cut it by 50% to 75%. Use that money to host events and give surprise gifts to your best customers.
- Keep track of the referrals your best customers send your way, and if appropriate in your industry, publicly thank them while announcing their rank in a way that all of your other customers are exposed to your display of gratitude. Do this in a way that appears spontaneous when possible.
These four ideas are specifically designed to both encourage your current best customers to want to refer you more business and to encourage new customers to become part of your best customer list. I am a firm believer that focusing on your best customers is the first step in creating a viral loop for your business. Regardless of your budget, there is no reason why you can’t and shouldn’t get started with one or more of these ideas today.