You have the product, the passion and the dedication; the perfect recipe for a successful business, certainly, but in order to realise this success you need customers. Securing and increasing sales can be difficult but, if you take the right measures and use all the tools available to you then it is certainly not impossible.

Marketing is the tried and tested method of gaining sales and interest for any business, of course for small businesses that lack large financial resources, marketing is simply too large an expense. This needn’t be the case, however; marketing can cost next to nothing if you’re clever about it.

Shameless self-promotion; it is the way to go; take, for example, the case of Stash Tea. A small, American company that struggled to get their product into shops and supermarkets until they came up with a bright idea. They placed an advertisement for their catalogue on to the back of their foil wrappers; so simple and, yet, utterly effective. Letters started to come in and once they started offering a free catalogue on their packaging, sales took off! All with one small adjustment to the aesthetics of their product; low cost, high effect marketing at it’s best.

Word of mouth; old-fashioned or traditional? As far as low cost marketing goes word of mouth can, perhaps, be the most fail safe way to garner new customers that are confident in your product. It is not difficult to see why, either; the good opinion of a friend is often the only recommendation  that consumers will require so why not offer recommendation bonuses? It works for many high street brands like Optical Express who offer money off their frames and lenses per successful recommendation. While such methods are guaranteed to get people talking about you and your products a combination of methods is best if you want sustained, significant growth in your consumer base. For example, giving away small samples of your products to relevant people can be a great way to get the right kind of attention. Do you sell handmade knitwear? Give a baby blanket to the local kids-wear shop, or a scarf to a boutique owner who sells similar things. Make sure you give the best examples of your work, too, because when the recipients of these gifts are complemented on their piece they’ll know that your products are worth selling on. Play your cards right and you could end up with orders for more of the same; recommendations from customers are a lifeline to businesses but they pack more of a punch if these customers are also selling your goods to their own.

Social media; make a deal with the devil in disguise; Social media is the modern day Pandora’s box. And, while it can be daunting for those who prefer to stay off the net and in the real world, it would be prudent for the technophobic to bite the bullet and jump online. Social media can be your friend as well as your enemy; though it would be advisable to make sure your knowledge is up-to-date or put someone who knows what they’re doing in charge of your online presence. Websites like Facebook can be a fantastic way to raise awareness and keep in touch with your customers but do make sure you have a link to your company’s official website on the Facebook page. By doing this you can ensure that any new customers or curious browsers have a direct link to your product and full opportunity to ‘window shop’. Facebook does offer an advertisement scheme which is certainly effective in gaining likes to your page, though its effectiveness regarding actual sales could be debated. However a budget of £3 or £4 per month could add up to 250 new likes to your Facebook page in this period of time. The service can be terminated easily so if your likes fail to translate into sales, you could certainly cut your losses and try a new tactic.

Your official website, otherwise known as ‘the Mothership’; While doing all this online marketing it is key to remember that the official website, that is the website you sell your product from, will be the heart of your company unless you can afford retail space. Even then it will still be at least equally important so never neglect it; the importance of having a professional, easy to navigate, optimised website cannot be underestimated. Unless you are an expert it is entirely worth the money to have a professional build it for you. Potential customers will be discouraged by a sloppy, aggravating or inappropriate website and you will lose not only their patronage but all the potential customers they could have brought you. You should be looking to have a FAQ page, assuming people often ask questions about your product, contact information, a website shop so customers can actually buy your products. Website builders such as Wix can help you out with this as they will allow you to create a simple page with a shop and blog etc for free at the start, once you start earning, however, it would be wise to sign up to one of their paid plans. The price is affordable and what you get in return is quality; your own domain name, a page free of advertisment, more bandwith and more storage, too.

H A happy customer is a repeat customer; keeping your customers happy and confident in your product is key to maintaining your sales and, by way of verbal recommendation, ensuring some measure of growth. By giving them information about your new products or any sales, offers and discounts that you plan on implementing you will be letting them know you value them and want to give them the best deal. By doing this you might even increase the value of individual sales; when products are discounted people are likely to buy things they would not have beforehand. Likewise small, inexpensive gifts can be a great way to keep customers invested in you and your business; the Brooks Pollard company in Arkansas sends its clients a personalised letter and small gift every Thanksgiving to let them know how important they are to the company. While this may be impractical for businesses that sell the kind of items that are bought on a one off basis, if you have repeat customers or are in a business like marketing where clients stay with you such gestures are a good way to build your relationship with customers.

 

By being proactive in your approach to marketing and customer relations, the task of maintaining and increasing sales within your company does not have to be a taxing task. Follow up your sales with a thank you, approach repeat customers with products you think they would be interested if it is appropriate to do so and keep your brand visible. If your product is good and your customers happy, you’ll find sales increasing with time and care.