Online Advertising What To Use When

Online Advertising: What To Use When

Online Advertising What To Use When

Do you want to get started with online advertising but are not sure where to start?  Have you spent lots of money on advertising but have little to show for it?  While online advertising can be a goldmine for businesses, it's easy to spend money on the wrong platform, targeting the wrong audience with the wrong message.

All advertising platforms are different.  They all have different types of audiences with different intents and it's your job to understand this so you know the best approach to take with each platform.  People performing a search on Google are much different (and in a different mindset) than someone casually watching videos on Youtube.

Some advertising platforms, like search advertising, target people close to making a purchasing decision, while others, like social media, are reaching people at the beginning of the buying cycle or they may not be thinking of buying at all.  All of these require a different strategy and an understanding of who you are trying to reach and when.

Below are some of the most popular methods of online advertising, with a brief overview and suggestions on when you might use it.  Each one of these platforms can be its own topic, so you should investigate each platform further before you decide where you want to spend your money.

Search Advertising (Pay Per Click)

Google Adwords and Bing Ads are the two biggest platform for search-based pay per click advertising and is what most businesses use.  Pay Per Click advertising is when you pay only when someone clicks on your ad and visits your website.  While Pay Per Click schemes are available on non-search platforms like Facebook, search advertising is where the bulk of it happens.

When people type in a query in the search engines, like “plumbers in Austin”, the search engines return a list of web page results.  Some of these results are in the form of paying advertisers who bid to have their ad show when someone types in a query related the list of keywords they are targeting.  So if you were a plumber in Austin, you would want your ad to show up when someone is searching for plumbers in Austin as well as related search terms.

Search advertising works best when there is demand for your product or service because your ad will only show when someone proactively types in a search query. Business to consumer products and services work best since there is a much higher volume of searches, but BtoB advertising can also work very well as long as there is search demand for it.

When running search advertising campaigns, you are not really concerned about the demographic profile of the person making the query, only what their intent it.  The way you as the advertiser can define your audience is to set a geographical area where you want to target as well as when you want your ads to appear.

So when will you use search advertising?

You will use it when you have an idea of what search terms people will use when searching for a products or service like yours.  Once you have your list of terms people will use, you can create ads targeting people that make these searches.

Since the search intent is very specific, the costs tend to be a bit higher than other forms of advertising, but you are paying for someone specifically searching for what you have to offer.  For most businesses, I usually recommend running search ad campaigns as a starting point for online advertising as it is pretty cut and dry on how it works and tends to deliver higher quality leads than other advertising types.

 

Display Advertising

Google, Bing and Yahoo are the big platforms for display advertising, but there are lots of smaller ad platforms that cater to specific verticals and niches.

Display advertising is when you show an image, video or other animated ads on a website in the form of a banner ad. Think of it like a tiny billboard, except with much better targeting options and a much lower price.

Display advertising lets you show your ad to people as they search the web.  Thousands of websites participate with advertising platforms (Google Display Network being the biggest) to allow banner ads to be shown on their website.

Here's an example of how it works.  The NY Times partners with Google to show banner ads on their website.  You own an online cookie company and sing up with Google Adwords, using their Display Network to show your banner ads.  You set the criteria that you want to show your ads on pages where people are reading about food, specifically using keywords for cookies.  If someone reads a blog post about cookies on The NY Times website, your banner ad may show on that page because it matches the criteria you set and they are an advertising partner with Google.  This is a simple example of how display advertising works, you can get pretty advanced on how and when your ads show.

So when will you use display advertising?

Display advertising is not as targeted as search advertising (people aren't specifically telling you why they are viewing a page) so the costs tend to be cheaper than search advertising.  It is a great way to do some mass advertising on the web while still having control over how and when your ads get seen.  If you are a new business or trying to promote an event, display advertising can be a very cost-effective way to get the word out compared to traditional advertising.

Display advertising is also good when you have a product or service that people don't necessarily search for or even know exists.  We have a client that has a mobile trash bin sanitizing service, people love it, but it's kind of a new industry and people don't know to even search for it yet.

 

Remarketing

Remarketing is when people come to your website, you drop a tracking cookie on their device, and can  advertise to them on 3rd party websites after they have left.  You can usually set the duration on how long you want to remarket to them as well as how many times you want them to see your ad during that duration.

Ad type formats vary by platform, but you can usually have text, image, video or animated ads as part of your remarketing campaigns.

Remarketing is offered by numerous companies.  Google Adwords and Facebook are the two largest platforms that offer remarketing but other smaller platforms like Twitter also have remarketing options.  It is a great option for bringing back potential customers who were not ready to buy the first time around on your website and gives you the opportunity to stay top of mind (or offer a discount) while they are still trying to make a decision.

We often find that remarketing offers one of the highest ROI's compared to other advertising options since these people have already shown interest in your business, though the impact is usually smaller from a revenue standpoint since you are targeting a very small base of people.

So when will you use remarketing?

It is a great option when you are selling a product or service where people are doing comparison shopping as well as for businesses were you have an extended sales cycle.  Remarketing will allow you to stay top of mind during this process, introduce additional opportunities to show the value of your offering as well as offering discounts to try and seal the deal.  Between Google Adwords and Facebook, you can cover a big portion of the web with your remarketing ads.

 

Social Media Advertising

Social media as an advertising platform has come a long way over a short period of time, mainly thanks to Facebook.  The beauty of social is that you usually have a treasure trove of information to use as targeting options since they know so much about their user base.

Facebook, the king of collecting personal data without you knowing, has a scary amount of data that advertisers can use for targeting purposes.  I recently wrote an article on this, you can read it here.  For Facebook, you can target by demographics (sex, age, location, relationship status), Interests (hobbies, music, movies, health, food, etc) as well as Behaviors (bought a car recently, donates to charities, buys high-end furniture, etc).  Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest also offer interesting advertising options.

There are other social media platforms where advertising can work really well for you.  If you have a business where you can showcase visuals, Pinterest and Instagram have thriving ad platforms.  Twitter also has an ad platform if you know your audience is using Twitter.

One thing to note with social media advertising is that it tends to work best when you are not trying to make a sale from the platform, but rather to engage with them and maybe get them to take a first step.  For example, getting an email address or downloading something.

So when will you use social media advertising?

It's a great platform to use if you know that your audience is using social media and you also have a plan to engage with them beyond just asking them to buy.  Social media is a social gathering, bad etiquette “to hound” people to buy from you at a social gathering.  It is better to drive interest and engagement first, just like you would with networking. Like I said earlier, email sign ups, free downloads or reports and stuff like that are great tools to engage potential new customers and bring them into your sales pipeline.  Social media advertising can also work very well for driving interest/signups for events you may be running.

 

Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is when you pay someone with influence to help promote your brand.  Think of Nike and Michael Jordan and Beyonce and Pepsi, these corporations pay big bucks to have these stars associated with their brand.

The great thing for small business is that social media has created an entirely new crop of online stars who all have their own following.  There are now everyday people who have amassed tens of thousands (sometimes millions) of followers in specific niches that are open to aligning themselves with certain brands.

These influencers are open to doing one-time shout-outs on social media, brand/product reviews, and even larger sponsorship deals.  Normally you had to do individual outreach to each star and try and work out some sort, thankfully there are several services that help pair influencers with brands looking to use their celebrity to reach a new audience.

There are lots of different influencer marketing platforms out there with https://famebit.com/Famebit, Vidrocket and Grapevine being a few that don't require big bucks to participate.  There are also platforms like Loot, that don't have influencers but can help you reach your audience in non-traditional advertising ways.

Of course, you can always go direct to the influencers who you think have the audience you want to reach, it's just more work.

So when will you use influencer marketing?

Influencer marketing is fantastic if you are trying to build a brand and you want to make your advertising a little more natural than by just running traditional ads.  Some audiences aren't persuaded by traditional ads (Especially Gen Z and Millenials) so this type of marketing may be more effective in reaching them.  Finding the right influencers with the right audience can skyrocket your growth, though it can get expensive if they have a large audience (costs are typically related to the size of their reach) and you need to do your homework to make sure you are reaching the right audience.

 

Which platforms are right for you?

Hopefully, now you'll have a better idea on what online advertising platforms are available and when you would use them.  Take some time to investigate each one and decide if it's a good choice for you and what strategy you will use to reach your potential customers.  Online advertising is a big space and it's easy to get lost in it (and lose lots of money), so take your time and understand what you are getting into before you spend any money.

7 Keys To Successfully Running a Small Business

7 Keys To Successfully Running a Small Business

 

Small business and marriage have a lot in common, both have a pretty high failure rate (about 50%) and many of the ones that are still running, aren't particularly happy with its current state.  Yet, there are a small number that thrive and get stronger as time goes on.  These small businesses (and marriages) have figured out how to overcome the challenges, weather the storms and to love their business.

So how do you become that small minority that thrives over the long term?  For me personally, it comes down to a few things that I've shared below.  This list may not apply to everyone, but if you can get a grasp on everything below, you will be way ahead of the game and on the road to continued business success.

 

Learning

“Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune” – Jim Rohn

The desire to continually learn more.  I personally think this is the single most important skill you can have as an entrepreneur because it affects how well you do everything else on this list.  Your business can't grow faster than you can, so as your business grows, you need to grow along with it.

Any business owner will tell you that they have to wear dozens of different hats as a business owner.  You need to know how to market your business, manage finances, hire and train good people in addition to every other thing that comes your way in the course of doing business.  That's a tall order for a business owner and the only way you won't let all of these things drag you under is to continually educate yourself and get better as a business owner.

One of the most transformative things for me were audio books and podcasts.  Instead of listening to the radio during long commutes, I would listen to an audio book (first on CD, then eventually on Audible.com) and now podcasts whenever I was driving in the car or running on the treadmill.  Lame?  Boring?  Maybe, but not to me since I realized how much I was learning and how much better I was getting at running my business and managing others.

 

Responsibility

“You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself. That is something you have charge of. ” -Jim Rohn

In my pre-entrepreneurial life, I was a fireman in NYC.  I remember my first assignment after getting promoted to Lieutenant, my Captain told me on my first shift, “Just so you know, as an officer you're never in charge but you're always responsible”.  Well said Captain Jim, I tell people that quote when they start complaining about employees not listening to them or when they start blaming everyone else for the business problems they are having.

What I have learned over the course of owning my own business for 10+ years and working with lots of other business owners is that ultimately, you are responsible for your business's successes and failures and almost all problems are your fault.

This doesn't mean to flog yourself everytime something goes wrong, it just means to look internally for the reason things went wrong instead of copping out and blaming external forces.  That's the first step to solving problems and growing as a business owner.

When a problem arises, I ask myself, “What could I have done to prevent this?”  Underperforming employees?  Were they trained and mentored properly so they can succeed at their position?  Major advertising fail?  Did I really do my homework and research before signing the contract? Fine print on your lease is coming back to haunt you?  Did I ever read the lease properly or did I abdicate responsibility to my real estate lawyer?

For the small business owner, all roads lead back to you.  Like I said, taking responsibility does not mean beating yourself up every time something go wrong, it means empowering yourself because if you caused it, you can fix it.  People that blame others take no responsibility for their actions and you can't fix what you don't own.

 

Delegation

“Trust but verify” – Ronald Reagan

Failure to delegate is the reason why the majority of small businesses cannot grow past the mom and pop stage, where the owner has control over every aspect of the business.  In order to grow your business and take some of the pressure off of you as the business owner, you need to learn how to delegate responsibilities to others.

Most first-time business owners lack experience in hiring, training and mentoring others.  They hire half hazardously, provide little training and get frustrated when their employees underperform.  The fastest way to grow and to take the pressure off you is to surround yourself with good people and give them responsibility. An excellent book of hiring and managing the right people is the book, “First Break All The Rules”.

Another major mistake business owners make is abdicating responsibility instead of delegating.  When you delegate, others are taking charge but you are still responsible for the end result and to ensure it was completed successfully.  When you abdicate, you are giving up ownership and responsibility to someone else, relieving yourself of responsibility and over-site for things you should not.  Like Ronald Reagan said, “Trust but verify”.

 

Marketing

“Good marketing makes the company look smart. Great marketing makes the customer feel smart.” – Joe Chernov

Marketing is the lifeblood of your business, it is how you continually keep the pipeline filled with business.  Without a new stream of customers, your business will slowly die.

On the surface, marketing is pretty easy, in reality, it can be very difficult to make it work economically.  I think many new business owners take marketing for granted thinking if they spend the money the customers will follow.  We've all spent thousands on newspaper ads or direct mail campaigns that produced nothing or blown through hundreds of dollars in pay per click advertising without so much as a phone call.  Trial and error, you learn from past experiences and get better as time goes on.

If you want your business to thrive, you need to develop the right marketing mix for your business. Every business is different, what works for someone else may not work for you.  The key with marketing success is not to get it right the first time, but to continually improve over time.  Learn to test and measure and make adjustments as time goes on.  Companies that do this eventually create powerful marketing systems for their business.

Business owners also fall into the trap of trying one marketing/advertising tactic one time and dropping it to try something else.  If you decide to try something, make sure you try it enough to make the determination that it's not a good fit for your business.  Things like direct mail, SEO and networking take time to develop and to see results.  A business that runs a single direct mail campaign (or anything else) that fails and declares, “direct mail doesn't work”, is like a person picking up a guitar for the first time, playing a few clunky cords and declares, “guitars don't work”.  Yeah, they don't work for you, but they work fine for people that know what they are doing.

 

Discipline

“Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.” – Jim Rohn

I think one of the major advantages of a franchise over an independent business is discipline.  This discipline evolves out of past experience and successes of other franchisees in the system.  A franchiser may require you to do things you may find excessive and cost prohibitive, such as expanded hours even though you are not busy or requiring front desk staff when you are losing money keeping them there all week.  They may require continued advertising spend when you are not seeing results.  What the franchiser knows is that these things will eventually pay off and make you a more successful business in the long run.  An independent business may look at these as a waste of time and resources and start cutting back before they are able to pay off.

This continual corner cutting often leads to a downward spiral that many small businesses can't pull out of.

It may be tempting to close early, stop advertising, cut staffing hours or use a cheaper quality material to save a few bucks, but often times they lead to longer term issues of customer trust, brand quality and poor service that leads to a poor business reputation and lost sales.  Sometimes you have to make tough decisions, just make sure you think about the long-term impact on your business before you make them.

 

Finances

“The only way you will ever permanently take control of your financial life is to dig deep and fix the root problem.” – Suze Orman

Most businesses shut down due to financial reasons.  The reasons the finances are in poor shape may be numerous, but lack of cash usually brings a business to a grinding halt.  As a business owner, you need to have a firm grasp on the finances of your business.  If you're like me and hate financials, you need to get someone you trust to keep track of what is happening with your money.

You'd be surprised how many business owners ignore the financial problems they are having, thinking if they ignore it long enough, things will fix themselves.  What usually happens is that they ignore the financials until it is too late and lack the resources to pull themselves out of the financial hole they dug for themselves.

Not only do you need to understand profit and loss statements, you also need to have a firm understanding of the cash flow for your business.  Many profitable businesses went under, not because they couldn't turn a profit, but because they had major cash flow problems they couldn't fix in time.  How does that happen?  Account receivables, slow payers, having to pay for inventory and supplies up front and taking way to long to get paid by customers.  For many businesses, you need freely available cash to fill these gaps and if you take your eye off the ball, that gap can get so wide that you run out of cash.

As a business owner, know how your business works financially and never take your eye off the ball, no matter how bad you want to.  One thing I also learned is that lenders want to lend to you when you don't need, the second you run into trouble and need money, good luck trying to get a loan.  Secure you lines of credit, financial reserves, etc long before you need them.

 

Balance

“You can have it all, just not at the same time” – Oprah Winfrey

News for you, despite what you read you will never have a perfect work/life/family balance.  It's a lie.  Oprah Winfrey said it best, “You can have it all, just not at the same time”.  At any given time one part of your life will be dominating everything else, the key is understanding this and making an effort to bring some balance when the time comes.

Just starting a business?  No balance, your new business startup will consume you and take just about all of your time and mental capacity.  Starting your own business is hard work and very difficult so you it will need your full attention.

Crisis at home?  No balance, you will need to direct most of your attention to home life until things settle down.  Family comes first, your business success is pointless if it is at the expense of your family.  With your own business, there is no separation of work/home, it's not a 9-5 job where you can physically and mentally clock out every day.  It also doesn't mean that it should dominate your life, it just means that owning your own business becomes part of who you are, which is why you should enjoy what you do.

Don't feel guilty working an 80 hour week because you have a tight deadline to meet, but also don't feel guilty taking a day off to spend time with the family.  If you find yourself working 80 hours a week all the time, then there is a problem that needs to be fixed before you burn yourself out.  On the flip side, don't ignore fires that could seriously hurt your business because you planned on doing some weekend gardening.

One more note, and this is my personal opinion, don't go out and start a business unless your significant other is onboard with it.  You will hit some serious waves when starting a business and the stress can be unbearable, with the only thing keeping you together is knowing that you both jumped into entrepreneurship together.  This is a whole other article, but thought I would throw it in there.

Here's to your business success

Continual learning, taking responsibility and never taking your eye off the important things will put you on a path to continued success.   Good luck.

8 Principals and Laws Every Business Owner Should Know

8 Principals and Laws Every Business Owner Should Know

Every business owner has their own set of guiding principles that helps their business stay the course.  These sets of rules and principles help guide the business and helps to create standards and consistency in the business.

As the owner of your business, you largely create these sets of laws and principles.  These may take the form of your customer service promise, your employee code of conduct, and how you as a business owner operate your business.  These guiding practices help to ensure that your business remains consistent and you don't go off track as time passes.

There are also universal laws and principles that can help guide you as a business and a business owner.  There are hundreds of these universal laws and principles, some hundreds of years old, and others quite recent.  The 8 laws and principles below are one's that every business owner should know about.  Hopefully, they will help to keep you on the track of creating a great business.

 

Kanter’s Law

Everything can look like a failure in the middle, also known as “The messy middle”

Ain't that the truth.  This term was coined by

This term was coined by Rosabeth Moss Kanter, a Harvard Business School professor, after seeing hundreds of businesses languishing months after their pie-eyed startup launches.  Everyone loves the beginning and the end, it’s that middle part, the part where the only thing that’s left is the work itself and your persistence and determination is the only thing to see you through.
Why it’s important.  After the excitement of starting a new business is gone, many business owners get into a rut.  It’s the rut where the business isn't forming as expected and you’re not sure where the end is.  You may even wonder if this is the end.  It’s important to know that most businesses go through this “messy middle” and this is the time the real work begins to start reaching that light at the end of the tunnel.  In simple terms, don’t give up!  If you find yourself struggling as a small business owner, read “The E-Myth” by Michael Gerber.  It's in my opinion, a must read for every small business owner.

Pareto Principal

Otherwise known as the 80-20 principle.

Everyone’s heard of this principle in one form or another.  Some examples are: 20% of the tasks we do account for 80% of the results we get or 80% of the value you get from relationships is from 20% of the people you know.

Why it’s important.  As a business owner, most of the value you create for your business and yourself are from a small percentage of your activities.  Your job is to figure out what activities take up your time but don’t deliver high value for you and your business, and either stop doing them or get someone else to do them.  Being busy doesn't mean you are being productive or growing your business, it just means you are using up your time.  Use your time wisely.

Parkinson’s Law

Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.

Do you find it strange that every employee, no matter what company they work for, can complete all of their work in approximately 40 hours each week?  Strange indeed.  Maybe it’s that those 40 hours are arbitrary and most people can complete the same amount of work in less than half the time, maybe that's why social media activity is highest during work hours.  But since they get paid based on 40 hours, they need to expand their work to fit inside these allocated hours.  With some web surfing and daydreaming mixed in of course. And yes, I've read The 4 Hour Workweek…..twice.

Why it’s important.  Realize that you (and your employees) can complete tasks much faster…….if the need arises. All you need is a sense of urgency. College kids do it all the time when they “forget” to study for several weeks and then pull off an “all nighter” to successfully pass an exam the next day.  When assigning important tasks, either to yourself or an employee, give clear and short timeframes for completion.  And be sure to follow up.

Murphy’s Law

Anything that can go wrong will go wrong

Murphy’s law is probably the most well known on this list.  When it rains, it pours.  If something can go wrong, it probably will.
Why it’s important.  Don’t go turning into Eeyore over this law, the important thing is to understand what can potentially go wrong and to be prepared if it does.  Military strategists do this all the time, creating contingency plans…..just in case.  An hour of planning will save you two hours of headaches and frustration later on.

Peter Principal

When I was first starting my career in the NYC, Fire Dept,  I once asked my senior Lieutenant why he’s spent the last 20 years in this rank and why he didn't become a Captain.  His response was, “Gary, I've risen to my highest level of incompetence”.  I didn't know there was an official principal named after this, but there is.  Kind of makes sense, you do a great job and keep getting promoted until you start not doing a great job, and remain in your current position until you eventually retire, quit or get fired.

Why it’s important.  Business owners make this mistake all the time, assuming a great employee will also make a great manager.  While an employee may be great at doing the actual work, they may not have the skills to successfully manage others to do the same level of work.The important thing is recognizing an employee's strengths and making sure they remain in a position to show those strengths off to the fullest.  Worried about losing great employees because you aren't promoting them?  Read the book,

The important thing is recognizing an employee's strengths and making sure they remain in a position to show these strengths off to the fullest.  Worried about losing great employees because you aren't promoting them?  Read the book, “First Break All The Rules”, by Marcus Buckingham for some great ideas on this subject.

*Bonus Principal!  The Dilbert Principle was coined by Scott Adams, creator of the Dilbert comic strip.  It states: “companies tend to systematically promote their least-competent employees to management (generally middle management), in order to limit the amount of damage they are capable of doing.”
Well said Scott, well said indeed!

The Dilbert Principle

Hicks Law

The time it takes for a person to make a decision as a result of the possible choices he or she has.

More choice makes for more thinking, which makes for slower decision making.  “paralysis by analysis” is the common term used to describe this. It’s like going to an ice cream shop with 100 flavors, takes forever to make a decision as opposed to choosing between chocolate or vanilla ice cream.  Numerous studies have been conducted on this subject and the results have been that offering fewer choices led to quicker decisions and a person more likely to “buy on the spot”.  Simplifying decision-making process also leads to less stress and anxiety.
Why it’s important.  Offering more to your customers is not always better, at least not if you want them to make a purchase when they walk into your store.  Even if you do offer a lot of variety, understand that you may need to actively work with a prospect during the buying process to help them narrow down their choices and to guide them on that road to a sale.  If you leave it to them to decide, you may find that it’s easier for them not to decide and go get a Latte instead.

Occam’s Razor

Among competing hypotheses, the one that makes the fewest assumptions should be selected.

The simple answer is often the correct answer.  One of the most famous examples of Occam's Razor is the Apollo moon landing hoax.  Conspiracy theorists think the whole moon landing was an elaborate hoax.  If that was true, then over 400,000 engineers, employees, and other individuals were all duped or were a part of the most elaborate hoax in world history.  NASA’s explanation was that a brilliant team of engineers created a shuttle that could transport people to the moon.  That explanation sounds a lot simpler and more likely true.
Why it’s important.  In business, we sometimes over complicate matters that offer a simple explanation.  Make decisions based on the information in front of you and try and avoid unnecessarily complicating matters unless new information tells you otherwise.

Suttons Law

The law is named after the bank robber Willie Sutton, who reputedly replied to a reporter's inquiry as to why he robbed banks by saying “because that's where the money is.”

This is a pretty simple law, go where the opportunities are. 

Why it’s important.  Make sure there is a market for your product or service before you spend your hard-earned time and money creating it.  Many businesses fail because they find out after the fact there isn't a market for what they have to offer.  Conduct your market research before going “all in”.

What principles and laws govern your business?

What rules do you find to be helpful for your business?   What other rules would you add?

5 Places Where Your Business Is Leaving Revenue On The Table

5 Places Where Your Business Is Leaving Revenue On The Table

5 Places Where Your Business Is Leaving Revenue On The Table

Every business wants to generate more revenue.  More (and hopefully better) marketing is usually the solution to that, at least that is how most business owners see it.

 

What business owners don't see is the mountain of revenue that goes untapped each year in their business.  Right in front of them, all around them, are opportunities to generate more revenue without gaining a single new customer or spending a dollar on additional marketing.

 

So why is the focus almost always on finding new business instead of maximizing the business they already have?  In my opinion, it comes down to the complexity of the solution.

 

More marketing usually means spending some money on advertising to generate interest and leads.  Pretty straightforward, spend some money and get some business.  Yes, a super simple example but you get the point….it doesn't require a ton of planning/effort on the part of the business owner, only some money in most cases.

 

On the other hand, generating more revenue from missed opportunities in your business usually requires more planning/effort than money.  Figuring out how to generate more revenue with existing opportunities requires evaluation, strategy, planning, and execution……who has time for that?  Many internal opportunities lie in operational inefficiencies, lack of training and lack of managerial oversight.  All things that pretty much place the responsibility and blame on the business owner.

 

Much easier to just spend more money on advertising than to confront these complex issues.

 

So while every business needs to generate a continual stream of new business in order to stay healthy, they also need to look at their existing business and figure out how to generate more revenue from the leads and customers they already have.

 

Below are some common places where businesses continually leave money on the table.

 

Current Customers

Your current customers are your most important source of additional revenue.  You have an existing relationship with these people and they have already proven that they are willing to spend money on your business.  You have already spent the time and money to acquire them, so why not make the most of it?

 

Look at your current customers and see what additional products/services you can offer them.  Many of your current customers may have no idea what else you offer, it is your job to introduce them to these other offerings.  If you sell a one-time product, like a home generator or HVAC system, you can offer a yearly maintenance contract to service it each year.  Look at your current customer list and see who you can offer this subscription service to.

 

If you sell replenishable products, do you know when each of your customers should be running out of product?  Timely reminders and discounts can entice customers to purchase more frequently from you.  If they currently buy from you twice a year on average, imagine what your business would look like if you could get your customers to buy three times a year?

 

From additional sales to more referrals, examine your current customer database to find opportunities to grow your revenue.

 

Upsells

Are you making the most of each sale?  Why do you think supermarkets are full of candy, magazines, beverages and small ticket items in each checkout lane?  Because these are impulse purchases that people make that they probably wouldn't have if they were sitting there in front of them.  Better yet, train your employees (or build into your checkout process if e-commerce), to offer complementary products/services at the point of sale.

 

If you sell swimming pools, offer a discounted pool chemical package at the time of purchase, they will need it anyway.  You can also offer upgraded filters, pumps, heaters, etc at the time of purchase.  A customer may not even know these upgrades are available and won't know to ask unless you offer it to them.  If you are a bakery, remind people that it's cheaper to buy by the dozen or offer a free pastry if they purchase a dozen, it can help push someone only wanting 6 pastries into buying 12.

 

Think about how you can bundle additional products/services at the point of sale to increase your average ticket size. The easiest time to sell to someone is when they have made or are about to make a purchase.  The wallet is out, their wallet is out, make the most of it because you may never see it again.

 

Conversions

I had a client that used to continually say that not getting enough leads was the one big bottleneck in their business. They would say they had a great sales team, support staff and everything needed to grow their business….except they did not have enough leads.  Since transactions happened offline, it was difficult to see conversion numbers but I was told they consistently had a 30-35% close rate once they scheduled an appointment.  That's a pretty impressive close rate considering they were selling services that cost between $8-30K.

 

Over 3 years we doubled the amount of leads they received each year, but the revenue was barely growing.  So we instituted a new CRM/Marketing Automation package to closely track every lead that came in.  And guess what we learned?  Conversions are actually sitting around 7% and a good chunk of their yearly sales are coming from old, existing referral business where the sales were pretty much automatic.  So much for a well-oiled machine.

 

With a dismal conversion rate, it makes no sense to spend more on marketing until you can fix your conversion issues.  It's like having a shower with very little water pressure due to a leaking pipe and trying to fix it by cranking up the water pressure.  Yeah, you had a nice shower but flooded your basement in the process.

 

Examine your conversions (if you use your gut, you are 100% always wrong) and your sales process and see where the leaks are.  Increasing your conversion rate by only a few percentage points can have a dramatic impact on your bottom line.  But like I said earlier, it's easier to spend more money on advertising than it is to repair a broken sales process.

 

Past Customers

Just like current customers, past customers can be a gold mine of additional revenue waiting for you to take it.  Once people stop doing business with you, it's easy to forget about them or to place them on some generic newsletter until they finally mark you as a spammer.

 

It's hard work, but maintaining relationships with past customers can keep the door open to new business.  People stop doing business with you for a variety of reasons.  Maybe they no longer needed your services, or finances got in the way, or maybe they decided to try a competitor, the point is that they purchased from you once and some of them will purchase again.

 

Maybe you are offering new products/services from when they were your customer.  Maybe their circumstances have changed and they are now ready to start buying from you again.  You will never know unless you re-open the lines of communications again.

 

I have a client who has a corporate training business that wanted figure out how to generate new business as it was in decline ever since the recession hit in 2008.  We went through his business and discovered he had run over 1500 corporate training events over the past 20 years.  When I asked him what he did to stay in touch with these past customers and to get repeat gigs, you know what his answer was?  Nothing.  Yes, he spent all of his energy trying to figure out how to get new business and completely ignored 20 years of past customers.  Shocking but true and there are many businesses out there that do the exact same thing.

 

Even if they don't need you anymore, maintaining a good relationship will keep the door open for referrals from them in the future. Go through and find some of your best past customers and start building a relationship with them again.

 

New Offerings

Do you know what your customers want?  Have you ever asked them?  For internet marketers, the most successful strategy going is to build a huge audience (leads for their online business) and then just ask them what they want.  Once the audience tells them, they go out and make it for them and make lots of money in the process.  They actually do the exact opposite of every other business, they build a relationship with their audience and then sell them whatever they are looking to buy.

 

Maybe you need to offer additional products or services to your business.  Maybe you need to bundle your products/services or the opposite, breaking your product/service into smaller parcels for your customers.  Maybe you need to do all of this.

 

Snack packs came about because some people didn't want to buy a giant pack of potato chips, they only wanted enough for a single serving.  Costco came about because families wanted to buy in larger quantities (at a cheaper price) than they could get at the supermarket.  Online tax services well audit protection services as an add-on because people who do their own taxes are afraid of the prospect of having to deal with the IRS on their own if they get audited.

 

Look at your customers and look at your current offerings and see where there is potential to offer them something new, something old just packaged and presented differently.

 

Go find that revenue

So now you have a few ideas where you can increase revenues without needing new customers or paying for more advertising.  It takes more time and effort, but cashing in on these opportunities can have a huge impact on the financial health of your business.