Getting a customer to try your services out and getting them to use them again are two very different challenges. Assuming you have an honest, quality service/product, there are a few low-cost things you can do to effectively develop a loyal client base. Even if the recipient doesn’t do any more business with you again, they may be inspired to refer you. What it all comes down to is developing a relationship built on trust, which results in a continuous flow of repeat business.
Keep your website updated
I cannot stress this enough, your website NEEDS to be updated at least every few months. When your website starts collecting dust, not only does it lose value as the (online) face of your company, it also degrades in ranking on Search Engines. After updating your website, make sure you let your customer base know about it.
If you don’t know html, have a professional integrate a content management system. Content management systems allow you to easily edit/add website content online via a user friendly interface. I offer this as an option on all projects, and there are a variety of great options to choose from. I personally recommend Cushy cms for small (1-5 pages) brochure websites, WordPress for medium sized (5-20 pages) websites and ExpressionEngine for large (20+ pages) websites.
Launch a blog
You don’t have to call it a blog. Call it white papers, resources, professional articles, company news, whatever. A blog is an easily updated, great way to drive quality traffic to your website, so after launching a website It’s a great way to take your website to the next level of effectiveness as a marketing tool. Although you can link an offsite blog to your site via a simple link, it’s much more effective if your blog is actually integrated into your website.
Although it is a marketing tool, keep in mind that the traffic you will generate from it is a byproduct of good content. Good content= good traffic. If you just fluff up or copy/paste a bunch of keywords, you will not only be of no use to anyone, but may get demoted by Google for bad quality content (especially after the February 2011 algorithm switch). Good content is the only way to inspire repeat visits. You’ll be better of writing better content less often than vice versa.
I recommend WordPress, however Blogger is also another popular solution.
Start an email newsletter
An email newsletter is a highly effective way to drive traffic to your website, advertise your latest news/articles and remind customers of your various services. Your emails should be set in a template (with basic text fall-back), and should offer value in their content. Meaning don’t send an email pitching customers to use your product or services, but instead share some of your latest company news, featured projects and a resource or article (and of course somewhere in there, you can squeeze in some advertising).
Pass out tons of business cards
This is a given. Always have at least 5 cards with you. There’s nothing more embarrassing than to spend 10 minutes introducing yourself to a spur of the moment potential client, and not have a card on you. You don’t have to pitch yourself to everyone you meet, because your card will do that for you half the time as long as you’ve got your title/url on it.
You can get business cards for dirt cheap on vistaprint.com, however I recommend connecting with a reputable local print shop for a higher quality product, as It will lead to a better first impression.
Don’t come on too strong
I automatically get turned off by a product or service if someone tries to sell me. Therefore because I don’t like being sold, I don’t try to sell my product- I let my product sell itself. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t talk about your product or what you do, it means you shouldn’t push it or pressure your customer into it. Used car sales tactics will typically just add a negative connotation to how you do business.
Get on the social media bandwagon
Not because It’s cool, but because It makes your business feel human. Facebook and Twitter are utterly useless and a waste of time if you don’t encourage people to actually become your followers. It’s also useless if you have a good number of fans but never actually update your account. Think of it as another mailing list. Use it as a less formal way to keep your customers in the know.
This doesn’t have to be a chore. Synchronize your Facebook, Twitter, blog and website so that whenever you update one, It updates all of them to save yourself lots of copy and pasting.
Synchronize all these efforts!
This might sound like a ton of stuff to do, but it’s not if you synchronize everything and commit to the effort. You’ll only reap what you sow, and a good harvest comes with good labor.
Besides the business cards note, everything I just went over can be synchronized. Meaning when setup correctly you can write a blog, have it automatically post to your website homepage and social networks, then send it out as a part of a newsletter. This is where hiring a professional comes in handy, get in touch with me if you would like to talk about how I can help your business.