By Victoria Petkovic-Short
You’d have to have been living under a rock to have missed the hype about ‘Big Data’ and how businesses are capitalising on information about their customers, in order to drive sales.
For many small businesses however, the process seems overwhelming, and arguably for many big businesses too.
Those who are succeeding include household names such as Amazon and Google, but they’ve got lots of data, lots of programmes and lots of statisticians to make the most of it. So what happens if you aren’t a data head, don’t have big budgets, or simply don’t know where to start? Well, we’re here to help…
Start small and get the basics right
You don’t have to be an Oxford graduate mathematician to pick up basic patterns; our brains like patterns, so give yourself some time and your brain will soon be doing the work for you! Look at what drives your business peaks; why are customers buying from you then and how can you make sure they keep buying it? For some businesses this will be annual trends e.g. people buy calendars between September and January, and for others it will be weekly or seasonal patterns e.g. hotel stays relating to local events. Whatever your pattern, work out the basics of who and why, and then think about how you can keep encouraging these behaviours.
I am a prime example. Two years ago, I used a company to make a personalised calendar using my own photos and key dates including friends and family’s birthdays. Each year the calendar runs out and each year I struggle to remember the company I bought it from and how to get another one. Every year I have ultimately tracked the company down, but the company is lucky that I am largely lazy – I am determined to find them, because I simply cannot be bothered to type in all the birthdays again. Other customers are not so focused and they’ll simply buy from the brand that is cheapest, in their face the most, best reviewed or whatever. However, research shows that as soon as you put your brand in front of them and remind them they’ve use you before, most will be too lazy to go elsewhere and will quickly buy from you. So what could the calendar company have done differently? Contact me on the milestone. They know I am going to buy a personalised calendar and they know when people generally buy calendars, so add me to a milestone mailing and I’ll be far more likely to buy.
Obviously, a calendar is very specific, but you also have plenty of top-level data you can mine. Have customers booked for their anniversary or birthday? Have they told you they visit annually? Do they come back once a month? Work out what they do with your company, then how you can encourage them back.
Automate what you can
There are plenty of easy-to-use pieces of software which allow you to set-up templates, add your data and then everything will send automatically. Any type of milestone mailing can be automated, be that an annual birthday or anniversary card, a reminder to get your car serviced, whatever you can set-up you should. Then you don’t have to think about it, but it does your marketing for you.
Think about the messaging and keep it fresh
What often goes wrong in these scenarios is the messaging – what and how you are asking people to get in touch. Try to keep things succinct and simple. Maybe add an upsell message, but don’t bombard them with hundreds of different key points about your business. Simple is usually more effective with these things.
You also need to put in a regular review session. Things change in your business and offer, facilities, services, prices and pretty much everything else might be subject to change. You therefore need to put checks in place to make sure the message is always current, and it’s worth ensuring you don’t send messages if you’re near capacity either.
Ask for help
Marketing is a skill and you have to be good at everything when running a small business. If you struggle to make the time, analyse the data, come up with the messages or monitor the results, then ask someone else to do it for you. People like us are more than happy to help and qualifying businesses can also take advantage of our one hour free marketing session to tackle any marketing issue you like. Speak to the team on 01242 250692 or email email@example.com