How to Guarantee "When You Build it, Customers Will Come"

You can come up with the greatest business idea of all time, but if customers don't know about it, you'll never succeed.
Getting Small Businesses Unstuck, Shafran Moltz Group
August 22, 2012

One of the most important factors that leads to the failure of a company is that their prospective customers can't find their product when they need it. 50 percent of small businesses fail after 5 years because when "they build it", customers never come. The main problem for most companies is that they are never are considered when a customer is making a decision.This is because at the time of purchase, the customer does not know that they exist.

Michelle Middleton, Director of Marketing Communications at Dex One  says "to get noticed in today’s dynamically digital world, local businesses need to be visible to consumers where and when they’re making buying decisions.”

Experts say that in the past it took seven marketing reinforcements for a prospect to remember a company’s solution. Now with all the onslaught of information provided by the internet, it takes 21. In fact, Michelle says that "today’s consumers use an average of nearly eight different media tools to research local purchases before they buy. Nearly 70 percent of those searches, start online to get found and be chosen – before their competitors."

It is obviously important to develop visibility across multiple channels using search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM) and various social media tools. But what other techniques can your business use to develop marketing programs to become "findable" and be noticed when customers are ready to buy?

1. Nail your brand. This makes your company stand out from its competitors. Shel Horowitz  says that in the early days of his resume writing business, his cards said, "Affordable, Professional Resumes While You Wait." People knew immediately how we were different, and the while-you-wait part especially attracted clients.”

2. Connect at the customer's pain point. Justin Palmer offers a prescription-assistance program that helps uninsured patients afford their medications. His marketing program targets doctors' offices "where patients are told they need an expensive medication that they can't afford.” 

3. Don't always be selling. In order to stay in touch with customers so you are there when they are ready to buy, send valuable information by email every week. Remember, this is not about selling your product. It is about giving something of value so the prospects know who you are and can begin to have a trustful relationship with you.

4. Get physical. Many businesses no longer have a physical storefront, but opportunities for advertising are all around.For examples, calculus math teacher, Tom Farber raised extra money by selling ads on quizzes ($10) and finals ($30). Leran Dahari uses DropCards where he drops fake $100 bills that include his website on the inside flap. Leran reiterates the obvious. “People tend to pick up $100 bills whenever they see them on the floor.”

5. Become the expert. Speak or write for business groups frequently. It helps to focus your company's message and value proposition. Kristen Simmons targets the top 25 blogs in her area of expertise to pitch them on writing a guest blog post. Many business owners use HARO (Help A Reporter)  to find these types of opportunities. it is easy to podcast and ask other experts for interviews (which makes you an expert by association) by using Blog Talk Radio.

6. Compare yourself to the big brand. Jimmy Rodriguez at 3dcart believes that you need to advertise how your company is different from your biggest competitor. He provides comparison charts between their solution and the main competitors to “simplify the decision making process for customers evaluating different ecommerce providers.” They are effective in organic search engine rankings and also as landing pages for search engine marketing campaigns.

7. Connect to a cause. Carrie Schwinof decided to give back to causes that were important to her. “We have donated several Zatswho sets to individuals that we feel can benefit from our product, and although it doesn't generate any money, we are hoping to spread the word about Zatswho and the kind of company we are!”

Barry Moltz is author of several books, including You Need to Be A Little Crazy: The Truth about Starting and Growing Your Business and Small Town Rules: How Small Business and Big Brands can Profit in a Connected Economy.