Let’s face it: most big companies aren't known for being trendsetters. But they are pioneers when it comes to finding new customers. Because large companies operate on such a large scale, mistakes can be very costly. This forces them to carefully choose, refine and innovate to find the best sales techniques. Here are four big business tactics you should put to work.
1. Go mobile
People everywhere have adopted the mobile phone as their device of choice. There are more than 6 billion mobile connections in the world, compared to under 2 billion PCs. Big companies have seen the light and are scrambling to take advantage of mobile’s potential. Small businesses can do the same.
Consider creating a mobile-friendly website if you haven’t done so. More businesses and consumers are looking for products and services on mobile phones, and websites designed for PCs typically don’t work well on small screens. You may want to develop a mobile app to make interactions with customers and prospects easier. Also investigate mobile barcodes—known as QR codes. People are increasingly using these codes, which can provide an instant link to businesses and their offerings.
2. Research your market
A big company tends to be detached from its customers, so it must go the extra mile to learn what makes them tick. It must continually investigate its market and learn how customers perceive it, how it compares to competitors and how it can expand its products or services.
Small businesses are closer to their customers, so they frequently underestimate the importance of research. It’s easy to take customers for granted and not delve into information that could dramatically improve your offerings or reveal how to find new customers.
Try to take advantage of every personal encounter to gather information, and consider organizing events that can increase that interaction. For example, an auto dealer might host a customer appreciation day several times a year. Also take advantage of social media like Facebook, Twitter and online directories to learn what customers have to say about your business.
3. Go digital
Industry researchers continue to predict dramatic increases in spending on online marketing—via e-mail, desktop computers, laptops, smartphones, tablets and other devices. Online ad spending in the United States is expected to grow 23 percent to nearly $40 billion in 2012, according to research firm eMarketer. Big businesses have found that online marketing allows them to offer easy purchasing through e-commerce, forge deeper customer relationships and reach consumers and businesses all over the globe.
To help ensure you make the most of online marketing, take a closer look at your company’s website. Can users search for your products and understand your services easily? If you engage in e-commerce, is the buying process smooth and intuitive? Do you regularly refresh the site with new information and special offers?
Also, are you taking advantage of interactive tools to establish a dialogue with prospects and customers? For example, are you using banner and search engine advertising to get the word out, and are you using e-mail to promote marketing offers? Finally, are you making your company and its products or services easy to find by posting business listings on online directories?
4. Plan and track
Planning and tracking may sound antithetical to innovative marketing, but it is key to hitting the mark and closing sales. You’ve probably heard the saying attributed to merchandising king John Wanamaker: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted—I just don’t know which half.” Well, now you can. Analytics tools allow you to track responses to your online marketing, and fortunately many of them are free or relatively inexpensive.
You can help get the best results from your online advertising by tracking the click-through rate. Test different ads and adjust your efforts to focus on what works best. Also look at performance data for your website, mobile messaging and social media activities. Metrics to examine include:
- Who’s visiting and what they do
- Who’s buying and what they buy
- Who clicked on an invitation or offer
- How much time they spend on your site
- What they say about your products or services
AT&T offers a number of tools and services to help your small business adopt these and other big business tactics. In particular, consider AT&T’s mobile marketing, interactive and Web hosting services.
Alice Bredin is an internationally renowned small business expert. She is founder and president of Bredin Inc., a marketing consultancy that helps Fortune 500 firms develop profitable, long-term relationships with small and medium businesses. She has advised millions of business owners over the last 20 years through her books, syndicated newspaper column, radio commentary and forums.
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