“Recently, my friends over at Visa Small Business asked me to share my tips on proven ways to streamline business and become more efficient and productive. I immediately thought of a shared pain point amongst entrepreneurs, “Marketing Inefficiencies.”
When I review my business portfolio each quarter – one of my goals is to find ways to “add value.” I ask myself and my team, “What additional value can we share with our customers, partners and external stakeholders?” Adding value is one of the primary, and often times overlooked areas, where any small business can achieve maximum marketing productivity with minimum wasted effort or expense.
It’s unrealistic to assume you can do business in today’s climate and not add value. Brands that create experiential and tangible value can demand a higher price. Value added refers to “extra” feature(s) of an item that go beyond standard expectations and provide something “more” while adding little or nothing to its cost (Wikipedia).
American investor and philanthropist, Warren Buffet, said it best, “Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.” Adding value is one of the most efficient business and marketing practices you can adopt.
Here are a few simple and cost-effective ideas you can implement to boost marketing efficiency and your bottom line.
1. Give customers something they didn’t expect.
Have you considered offering free shipping? One would think this is a no-brainer, but it’s a simple way to add value that many small businesses don’t implement. Review your profit margin, and if it doesn’t hurt your bottom line, you’ll increase marketing productivity with minimum wasted effort or expense.
When you do utilize this tactic, make sure to communicate that it’s a value added service. It will also evoke a positive emotional connection with your brand and let customers know that you went the extra mile to make their experience first-rate.
2. Give loyal buyers a reason to come back.
While I was shopping at Saks Fifth Avenue recently, the sales rep asked me if I wanted a store credit card. “No,” I quickly exclaimed. But, she had something more devious up her tailored sleeve. The determined cashier kindly inquired again, “Would you be interested in our new debit card? You can save $20 off today’s purchase of $100 or more.” This was a bit more enticing. I had planned to put the purchase on my debit card anyway. “Sure,” I replied. “Sign me up.”
To my surprise it took less than one minute and she informed me that my shiny new “debit” card is on its way, in the post along with a $20 coupon. I didn’t plan to return in such a hurry, but the extra incentive goes a long way. The moral of the story is this – find a way to earn repeat business in an easy and convenient way that trumps competitors.
Fundamentally, loyalty programs are an efficient use of limited marketing budgets. You’re ability to engage highly-involved customers, reward and encourage their buying behavior is far more efficient than acquiring new customers.
3. Don’t dilute your brand equity with excessive sales.
Sometimes a “sale” is not a good thing. Generally, people associate value with the price they are asked to pay. If you’re hesitant about filling your promotional calendar with tons of “sales” then consider adding more value instead. Complimentary products and services can add value and represent a cost-efficient marketing tactic.
Can you offer a complimentary product with purchase? If you run a service business, can you add an additional service to your package? Identify brand partners that you can a) promote to add value to your current customer base and b) maximize awareness for your new co-promotional partner. It’s a mutually beneficial tactic to drive cost-efficiency for both companies.
4. Increase referrals and sweeten the deal.
Many of us like to refer our family and friends to brands we know, love and trust. Often times we get little in return for it. Go the extra mile and ship referral cards with individual coupon codes or QR codes with every product purchase. Based on the number of cards redeemed, you can offer free gifts or exclusive access.
The next time a stranger stops your satisfied customer and asks, “Where did you get that?” You’ve armed your brand new sales person and biggest fan, with actionable information that will save the by passer time and money.
Also try online tools, such as expectreferrals.com, to create effective and efficient referral programs.
Ultimately, seek to build relationships with brand advocates. Customers who love your company are highly likely to tell others about you. Adding value is an indirect tool that can grow your business.
Adopt proactive tactics to make ‘adding value’ a success. Run the numbers and test it. It’s just one more way to make your marketing dollars work smarter and add value to those that mean the world to you – your customers.
Join the conversation with @VisaSmallBiz and learn more at http://visa.com/business.” How do you add value? Let me know in the comments section below. Did you enjoy this article? If so, subscribe to YFS Magazine and never miss an update. Don’t forget to make our friendship official and join Young, Fabulous & Self-Employed entrepreneurs on Facebook.
Photo Credit: © Kirill Kedrinski