Well today is the 31st January. According to the pundits the happiest day of the year. And for one wee one year old I hope she does have a wonderful day and I know from her parents that this time last year was the best day of perhaps their lives. However for me as I have said before January is not my favourite month. Amazingly though in the one month we have the unhappiest day in the year and the happiest all in the one month. Sorry but how does that work? We have only had one month in the year so far lots more to look forward to in my view. And for me neither apply nothing for me beats a summer’s day with the sun beating down and I am in the garden with a good book. And I confess the clocks going back probably is one of my low days of the year.
Anyway my rather long introduction is to make the point that it is the end of the month and on a personal level you have either scrapped your New Year resolutions or you are bravely continuing them into February. In my previous blog “it is confession time oh dear.” You will either have read or can read where I am with my personal resolutions.
But what about your work resolutions? How have you done with them? And if you run your own business let me ask have you communicated with your customers yet? And if you haven’t why not?
I can take a few guesses why you might not have spoken to your customers. But for this blog entry will limit it to three reasons.
1. You don’t think they would want to hear from you? Maybe you communicated with them in December and feel that they won’t want to hear from you so soon. Or maybe you feel that nobody is buying just now so why bother. Or maybe you just feel that there is no point. You have listened to the news with all its doom and gloom about the economy and you think that you will just hibernate for a few months and batter down the hatches.
2. Marketing is expensive. Many businesses and people see marketing not as a valuable tool which brings them business but simply £££££. And in the current economy you are looking at all costs and don’t want to spend any additional money.
3. Time Factors – You are busy running your business and you just don’t have the time to market and communicate with your customers. People know about you anyway and there are more important things to do.
Well you know I am going to come back with answers to these three potential reasons . And yes you expect me to put up a good case for marketing as that is what I make a living from. Yes? Well yes I do but I also firmly believe in what I do and I know that marketing makes a difference. Put in very simple terms if you don’t communicate with your family and friends do you have a better or worse relationship? Now sure there may be some family members when not speaking to them is the best option but let’s be honest in the main our best relationships are with the ones that we communicate the most with and it is the same with marketing your business. The ones that do well are the ones that make time to talk to their customers.
So taking the three points in turn.
1. Your customers do want to hear from you. And I can assure you that your competitors are not sitting back doing nothing they are communicating and maybe indeed with your customers. To take an example from a big retailer Amazon. Have I had communication this month from Amazon even though I spent money with them over Christmas? Yes I did and did it make me buy? Well yes I did buy a marketing book and I added a fiction book to my wish list. I also heard from Vintage Holidays the Spanish holiday company and yes it did remind me what wonderful holidays they offered. But no I didn’t hear from you so why should I buy from you? Worst case people bin the communication but have you lost anything as they may keep the information in their mind for the future. Many will do just that keep the information on file or in their mind and when they are ready to buy will buy from you and others well quite simply they will buy from you now. But if you don’t communicate with them how are they going to know about your great offer or the new products that you have?
2. Marketing doesn’t have to be expensive. I believe that the belief that marketing is expensive for businesses is a myth. Yes it can be if you want but then again so can anything. I have worked in marketing now for nearly 20 years. When I started my marketing career in the early 1990’s yes marketing could be expensive. Advertising is expensive, direct mail can be expensive and Press and PR can be expensive unless it is targeted and you know what you are doing. In these days in order to be heard these were the main medium used and often that meant having to bring in outside experts to do this for you. But today is a different story. Take a tourism business. When I set out you had to spend money on being quality assured ££££. You needed to spend money with the local Tourist Board and buy entries in their brochures ££££ and you needed to spend additional money on getting promotion in their Tourist Information Centres more ££££. Today you can set up a website, make sure you are communicating via social media especially Twitter and make sure that your customers add comments to Trip Advisor and keep in touch with your customers via enewsletters. And I can assure you if you do this often, with a clear idea of who your customers are you will get business. But you need to do so often and on a consistent basis and yes even in January.
3. You need to make time. No business can survive without customers and communicating to them. I run a small marketing business assisting businesses to get themselves noticed. But one of my clients is my company Bright Light Marketing and I make sure that work is done each week to market Bright Light Marketing as if I don’t I would quickly find that enquiries and new business stops as you can never assume that people know about you unless you tell them. So yes sometimes I have to fit this into my very busy life when I would rather have a rest but I know if I don’t I won’t have a business and I am no different from any other business.
So tomorrow is the 1st of February and if you are running your own business I ask you – have you communicated with your customers in 2011? If you have well done and keep on with it. If you haven’t take time, sit down and think how you are going to do so. The year is still young but if you leave it much longer your customers might forget all about you and you don’t want that to happen do you?