Mind you the word ‘success’ means different things to different people. Maybe you’ve been in business for decades, weathering recessions and labor shortages, slowly growing your business through sales efforts, and consistently serving your customers with minimal marketing tactics.
For others, success is running a profitable business of any size, even if you’re a solopreneur who clears a nice take-home at the end of each month.
Regardless, most companies hit plateaus – revenue ceilings that they can’t grow past, try as they might.
It’s not always the case, but often it’s a product of inconsistent marketing (or none at all). This is especially true if you’ve built your client list through referrals and networking. Chances are, you can only manage so many relationships. Eventually, if you want to grow beyond that network or take full advantage of existing relationships, you’ll need an effective, intentional marketing strategy.
1. Create a Cross-Selling Campaign to Existing Clients
One of the first questions I ask a client during a Strategic Audit is, “What are your dominant revenue streams?” When the client breaks down the splits, most of the revenue comes from a single product or service, with the others making up the balance.
When this is the case, it’s often the first product that has been successful, and subsequent products haven’t found as much traction. Perhaps there isn’t a significant market for them. But in many cases, companies struggle to sell additional products to existing customers.
The right marketing tactic might be to stop wasting time on the other products and double down on the one that’s driving growth.
But this isn’t always the right choice, nor is it possible for every business.
Whether it’s fear of ruining an already good thing or a lack of faith in the products, companies often fail to let their clients know about the other things they do. Someone is saying, “But I sent out that one email detailing all of our products and services!”
One email is not going to get it done.
When you sold them the first time, it probably took multiple calls, emails, and ads to convince them. You can’t follow up with a single email and expect everyone to come running, money in hand.
An effective cross-selling campaign should have multiple touch points answering key questions, reminding customers of their great experience, and positioning your solution.
If you already have an email list of existing customers, here’s your opportunity. Put together an email campaign that discusses the problem they’re experiencing, offers solutions, answers common objections, and asks for the sale.
Even better, automate the campaign for future clients so you automatically follow up post-sale with additional products and services.
Without expanding your network, you’re increasing revenue potential per customer.
2. Create a Loss-Leader Product
How much does your primary product or service cost?
If your answer is “not cheap,” you have an opportunity.
Higher-priced items are a tougher sale and often are relationship-driven. We buy from people we like and trust. But sometimes, the best way to show someone they can trust you and enjoy working with you is to be a customer. Of course, they have to buy from you first.
Even as prices rise across the U.S., Costco is famously keeping its hot dogs and rotisserie chickens at the same price. And it’s not like these were profit drivers before inflation. Costco is losing money on each one they sell.
So why do they keep doing this? Because these items bring people into the store where they buy other products that generate profit.
This is what we call a loss leader.
You may not even offer it today, but chances are there’s something you could sell at cost to generate interest or create surprise and delight in your customers.
If someone buys a product from you and enjoys the experience, they’re more likely to buy from you again.
So, sell them something they can’t say no to. Then go above and beyond to ensure they have the best experience possible.
When your marketing tactic is to approach the customer with a higher ticket item, they’ll attach the customer experience and wins your loss leader brought them to the new product.
Once they know that you’re good at what you do and deliver on what you promise, how much more likely will they be to buy?
You’re probably saying, “There’s nothing like that we can provide in our industry.”
I seriously doubt that’s the case. Here’s a great example.
Managed Service Providers (IT firms for small to mid-sized businesses) tend to operate on monthly retainers. They bundle their services to fit the customer’s needs and proactively manage technology. But there are a lot of services bundled in there that don’t make any money.
So, some successful MSPs will practically give away security audits and training or monthly email security. The goal isn’t to create profit with these products. The ultimate hope is to delight customers with the level of service and then convert them into a recurring monthly contract to generate profit for the MSP.
If they can do it, you certainly can.
3. Sell Strategy
How much time do you spend creating custom solutions for clients?
You probably look at it as a necessary cost of sales. But it doesn’t have to be. Unless you’re using a boilerplate strategy for every customer, you shouldn’t spend dozens of hours developing a plan for a customer only to lose the bid for the work.
This has become a standard part of so many industries. For example, anything more complicated than a simple wordpress site now requires a Website Blueprint from most marketing agencies.
Why? Because it takes more than a quick look at your site map to figure out what you should be doing as a business. You may have dozens of pages of content that aren’t doing anything for you. Or complicated integrations that require custom development.
If you fail to write these items into the scope of work, they’re likely to result in an ineffective site or a price tag far exceeding the original estimate.
So, if you’re spending time creating a custom marketing tactics plan before a client pays a dime, this is another opportunity.
Why should your customers pay for strategy?
- It adds value even if they don’t hire you. When you give a prospect a marketing tactics plan to grow their business, they should be able to take it and run with it themselves. Or hire someone else to do the work. But even if they do those things, you deserve to be paid for your time and expertise.
- They’re saving time. How long does it take you to develop each custom plan? Instead of figuring it out themselves, they should be paying you to get it done while they focus on something else. And you’re likely doing it in less time than it would take them. That time is worth something.
- They’re paying for your expertise. How many years did it take to learn everything you know? Paying for strategy is about jumping forward in time. Instead of learning everything you need to know about a subject, you’re paying someone else to apply their experience to your business.
Sure, this may not expand your client list, but it will justify your time spent developing strategies for clients. And it’ll probably improve the result and increase conversion rates.
4. Develop a Passive/Recurring Revenue Product
What if you could make money while you sleep?
Sounds like a dream, right?
Here’s the thing, it’s possible and easier than you think.
Two significant advantages you likely have – primary reasons people buy from you – are your experience and the processes you use to deliver success.
So, what if you could make money by sharing that knowledge with others? I know you’re thinking, I can’t tell people how we do what we do! Then they won’t hire us or buy our products.
You’re not alone in this thought process. But time and time again, it has been proven false. Sure there are some secrets you shouldn’t share. However, in most cases, generous companies that share their expertise (even at a cost) win in the marketplace.
Take Hubspot, for example. Their business thrives on helpful content that equips customers to create and distribute better content of their own.
A quick look at their blog shows Marketing Plan Templates, Marketing Automation Best Practices, and Copywriting Templates.
A competitor of theirs, ActiveCampaign, shares similar content such as Steal-Worthy Confirmation Email Templates and a Six-Email Welcome Series.
Couldn’t these two companies steal from one another? Yes. Does it really affect which one you choose? Probably not. Which one you decide to buy from will likely depend on other factors. But you know about them and trust them because they’re willing to share knowledge.
A passive revenue product should require minimal cost and time on your part. LMS or Learning Management Systems allow you to manage subscriptions, deliver training, and provide worksheets, checklists, and other documents to help customers.
Best of all, the customers may pay for the course, do the work, and then realize they still need your help. This creates additional opportunities for your core revenue streams and exposes your products and services to a new audience.
5. Create a Subscription-Based Community
When you have knowledge that others can benefit from, you have something marketable. You can sell your services by doing what you do well or selling that information. Building a community will take some of the pressure off you to provide the only thought, but it will also give the community you create a voice, and therefore a stake, in the service.
Manufacturing facilities may be independently operated, but that doesn’t mean they’re alone. Consider the American Manufacturing Communities Collaborative and the kind of community they’ve created. Manufacturing communities contribute to the nation’s overall economic development, and the way that these companies can lean on each other to achieve success in their respective fields is unquestionably a help for their businesses.
Another excellent example of building community is C12. C12 is a community of Christian business leaders who have supported each other and helped each other achieve excellence and balance in their business and home lives.
All it takes to build a community these days are like-minded individuals.
If you want to build a community, then you have to find your audience. Luckily, that’s easier now that nearly every adult has a phone, tablet, or device you can reach them with.
Online learning is a wildly successful revenue stream for brands, particularly now that the world has evolved away from exclusively in-person education. Offering courses and certificates are an excellent way for those interested in a topic to learn what they want without the cost and strain of enrolling in a traditional university.
When you create a community around your expertise, you’re stabilizing your income to a certain extent. As long as you have predictable subscriptions, your monthly income, while not passive, is far less volatile.
If you opt for a subscription service, you’ll want to ensure you’re avoiding these common pitfalls when you’re building community:
- Don’t neglect your community. If you want genuine community built into your brand, you’ll need your team to be actively involved. That means you’re reading everything they post and actively responding to as much as is reasonable. You will interact with subscribers far more than your other clients because they are paying for what’s in your brain, not just your product.
- Don’t ignore the community’s voice. If a community has suggestions, hear them out. When they give you clues about the content they want, do your best to provide it. If you opt not to give it, make sure you’re also communicating that to them. Tell them why it’s not something you feel comfortable speaking to or why you’d like to save that for a later date.
- Don’t rely exclusively on the community, either. After you’ve built a thriving community, you may find plenty of suggestions and requests for content. If you have that kind of support, it can be tempting to let the community pick and choose the thread topics, content you produce, everything. The key is to give subscribers a voice while maintaining control of what information you share. You should be the primary source of ideas and answers; your intellectual property is yours to dole out as you’re comfortable.
- Don’t make canceling hard. A brand often shoots itself in the foot with how it manages subscriptions. It can be tempting to “trick” your customers into staying. Still, the truth is that these tricks damage your brand’s reputation far greater than the revenue generated by holding on to a few customers for an extra couple of months.
- Don’t give it all away. When you’re explaining to others how to do what you do, there’s an inherent risk of losing their business. After all, if they can do it themselves, then why do they need you? It’s true that even with the knowledge, you’ll still have plenty that won’t have the time to do what you do. But there’s a happy medium where you aren’t cannibalizing your business with the subscription-based community. You want to give them enough content to be valuable but not replace you.
6. Create a Video Channel
Video is a must for companies today. If you can offer a visual example of how your brand solves your audience’s problem, then showing the proof on film makes sense.
The most popular video platform is YouTube, but you can create content on most social media platforms, which means you can reach more people with your content.
Ideas for video channels:
- Before and Afters. Filming the before and after is an excellent strategy if your service or product has a marked visual result that you can showcase. These videos work for makeup, cleaners, and the like, but you can also use a time-lapse video to show the creation or installation of any physical product. The interest may be more appealing than you think.
- Influencer Ads. You may not be able to afford Halle Berry to film for your content, but if you search for your product or service on TikTok, you may find an influencer who fits your budget and gives you a broader client base. You also may see a far faster return than you think.
- How-Tos. If your product or service is challenging to operate or use, then a good How-To video can help your brand reach a larger audience. No one wants to feel stupid, and if you take care of the “How do I …?” questions before the potential client disregards you, you’ll be better off.
- FAQs Like the How-To videos, Frequently Asked Questions or Question-Answer videos will teach the audience about your product or service. They won’t tune out when they see your ad or hear your product name. You can also create a blog or post detailing the answers in text for search purposes, but video catches the audience’s eye and gives them a face to connect with, so you’re more likely to reach them and earn their business.
No matter which video you make, ensure it will hold your viewer’s attention. That may mean keeping it interesting, but more often than not, it means keeping it short. The attention span of a person navigating the internet is low.
7. Package or Bundle Your Service
“Bundle and Save” deals may have a bad reputation thanks to cable companies’ common misuse and poor customer service. But the truth is that this model is popular for a reason. By bundling services together, you’re providing your customers with savings compared to buying the services individually. And you’re gaining more business than you would if you didn’t offer a bundle.
Consider the hypothetical: Your customer wants to replace a leaky sink. They have you come out and create an estimate. Why, though, would you miss this opportunity to give them more? When you’re out there, it’s an excellent opportunity to see what else in their bathroom needs work. After all, a leaky sink could require a replacement faucet. And while replacing something that changes the appearance of a room, would it not just make sense to replace outdated tile or closet doors?
They probably didn’t have a remodel in mind, but if you offer it (or parts of it) at a discount, it’s far more tempting to the customer. If you’re cutting only a small amount of your profit, you’re still making money, and they’re saving it. You’ll be at their house working anyways; why not maximize the trip?
Of course, none of this works if you don’t put the work in to ensure you’re offering a quality experience from start to finish.
Combat the stigma of bundling by ensuring your team provides excellent customer support.
Separate yourself immediately by maintaining attentive and thorough communication. When your customer has feedback, listen. And when they call for a grievance, don’t give them the runaround. Excellent customer service will win you their loyalty.
You’ll also want to remember that packaging is different from cross-selling. You’re not just convincing customers that they want more of your services. You’re giving them more than “the usual.” You’re offering a better value.
Test and Validate, Then Double Down on What’s Working
It’s probably not a great idea to do all of these simultaneously. Identify the marketing tactics opportunity that works for your business and test it out. Create a simple version and test it with a small set of customers. Measure the effects and then validate with a second test. If the return is there and it’s not negatively impacting the rest of your business, you may have your next big initiative to roll out.
Regardless, you aren’t stuck with what you have sold in the past. There are always opportunities to change how you market and sell what you do. Or offer new products and services to your audience.
Here’s to more leads and better returns in the years to come.