A businesswoman shakes hands with a man at a networking eventMarketing isn’t generally a word that gets most owners of small businesses excited. Even though it may not be your favorite thing to do, it is a necessary part of your business. Getting referrals for new business and having your customers come back for your service or product is the backbone of your business’s success.
“Always working towards excellence and not letting other standards set my standards. We know we can always improve.”
— Alisa Kuppe, Soccer Shots
So how is this accomplished? The experience your customer has is the key. When they feel excited by how they are treated, they want to go out and share that experience with friends and family. Have you ever gone into a store and been greeted in such a friendly, sincere way that you just had to share about the experience when you got home? You feel uplifted. A small thing like a wonderful greeting can make a big difference when it comes to getting your name out in the community.
The secret to Chick-fil-A’s success is as simple as saying “please” and “thank you.”
So now what? Now you need to maximize the effect of your great customer service. This is where you begin to market your business. You are going to need to maintain your current customers and attract new customers as well. If your existing customers are satisfied, the more likely that you’ll exponentially attract new customers because each customer will relay their experience to several people.
Some think of marketing as just posting an ad. In today’s world, marketing has become much broader and involves many different platforms. Social media, emails promoting your specials, public events, and web presence have become extremely important.
Marketing is a skill that all can learn, and many times it is just building on what you already know and turning that knowledge into actions. Below, I have listed the five main keys to marketing. We all know about these keys but might sometimes forget the importance of them:

1. Curb Appeal

While this is a real estate term, it applies to business as well. While in real estate, it is the first impression of a house and can make or break the sale, in business, it is the first experience your customer has with your business. Whether you are selling a product or service, you need to start on the right foot. The first impression may be online or in-person. Whichever it is, the initial contact needs to positive to get your relationship with the customer off on the right foot.

2. Customers Need Consistency

Your customers need to know that whether they return to your business one time or 100 times, their experience will be just as positive as it was the first time. This is critical to your marketing plan because a customer will not promote your business to friends if they are not sure that their friend will have the same great experience. If you go to a restaurant one night and receive amazing service, but the next week the service is terrible, you would not recommend that your friends try that new restaurant. What if they get the server that was terrible? Consistency will put you head and shoulders above your competition.
“Sales don’t drive loyalty, service does.”
— Brett Knight, Amer Sports

3. Communicating with Your Customers

When surveyed on what type of communication customers want from a business, email was the most popular. However, the survey also showed that customers prefer a mix of communication techniques:
Email (86% of respondents)
Telephone (65%)
Website (53%)
Text (52%)
In person (48%)
Creating a marketing plan that utilizes all or most of these options is critical to your business’s growth.

4. Exceed Expectations

Customers contact you at first because they need something. Be it a service or product, online or in person, most people expect a friendly greeting in person or ease of use online with a customer service option.
Find a way to make each customer feel special. Go above and beyond the expected “good afternoon” or just “your order has shipped” online. I went into a hardware store the other day. It was a hot day, and I was greeted with a “Hello, thank you for coming in…Would you care for a bottle of water?” WOW…guess who will drive five more minutes to go to that particular hardware store now? Exceeding expectations doesn’t have to be some extravagant gesture, it is the small niceties that really impact customers.
If you provide an amazing customer service, people will talk, and people will refer.”
— Thomas DeLadurantey, You Move Me

5. Keep Track

You keep track of your inventory, profits, expenses… keep track of your marketing results as well. Track what your particular customers are responding to. A program like Constant Contact will allow you to find out how many of your customers are opening your email and clicking on your promotions.
Track your Facebook page for likes and followers. If you send out a promotion, track how many people take advantage of your sale. Marketing to customers can be like marketing to a moving target. People have different preferences, and those preferences change. Be ready to adapt and change.
You already know the basics of how to market. To market effectively today, you just need to hone your skills and explore new platforms as they arise. There are countless apps and services available to help you utilize your time and marketing budget most advantageously. Focus on marketing and watch your business growth go through the roof!