While I was getting my hair cut the other day, I casually asked the hairdresser how her business was doing. Now this woman is a highly experienced and personable stylist who runs a modern and professional-looking salon with terrific co-workers.
Yet she lamented the fact that business was quiet and she was struggling to get new clients. So what’s going wrong?
The hairdressing salon owner I spoke with the other week was quite downcast about her sales. This is despite regularly receiving ecstatic feedback from her clients about the service they receive and the way the salon looks.
She’s pretty active online too — she regularly posts on Facebook and Instagram, clients can schedule their own appointments via Google Calendar and the other staff members in the salon always seem enthusiastic and happy.
But here’s the thing: I come across countless hard working and talented business owners who just aren’t pulling in the sales they need on a regular basis.
The reason isn’t that they’re doing anything wrong technically – most of the time it’s just that people don’t know about their offering.
Selling what you do to people
As consumers, we’re hit with a tonne of messages from the start of the day — all vying for our attention online, offline and everything in between. You have to find a way to cut through the noise.
But how? You can do this via a combination of ways, but consistent email marketing, also referred to as content marketing, is a powerful place to start.
With the right strategy, email content marketing allows you to inexpensively stay in touch with current, potential or lapsed clients. It’s a way that you can start to connect with people, as often as you want, by sharing your story and what it is about you and your business that makes you unique. These days, it’s getting more informal too, so authenticity is key.
Get the ball rolling on your email marketing campaign
Not sure where to start? The very first step is an easy one and will start you on an email marketing strategy for your business.
Collect your clients’ email addresses
What’s a beautiful email without someone to send it to? A waste of time…
One of the fundamental truths about successful small businesses is their ability to manage and grow off their existing client database. And you can even create this email database in Excel if you want to.
Get your client database started by using every opportunity to collect as much information about your clients as possible. It’s this information that gives you a valuable and complete database and it must be kept up to date. And happy customers won’t mind.
Start collecting client email addresses with these ideas:
- Record email addresses every single time you have a relationship or interaction with a client
- Whenever a client calls you, immediately add them to your client list
- Add a signup or subscribe form to your website so clients receive your monthly e-newsletter: make it really easy for them!
Keeping the conversation ‘real’
You can’t be everything to everyone; it’s never going to be possible to create a single email that all your clients will love.
Basic rule of thumb: Keep your content relevant and personal. Try to be yourself. Business speak is much more conversational than ever before. In fact, businesses are increasingly using Instagram and Facebook messenger to converse with clients; a domain previously reserved for informal contact with friends, family and sometimes colleagues.
People will be much more likely to open and read your emails if they can relate to them and don’t feel like you’re wasting their time bragging about how great you are. (Remember, they are expecting you to say you’re good, so it’s very ho hum to your clients; you’re not exactly going to tell them how bad you are, are you.)
Sending emails and email newsletters that speak to your clients should increase your email performance and conversions (when your reader takes the action you wanted the email to achieve).
Using MailChimp to engage your clients
So you’ve started the conversation, now lead capture forms will make it easy for people who visit your website and social media sites to enter into the conversation with you.
We use WordPress for our website content management and there are other providers that, these days, make it easy for you to create and edit your own online content.
With some basic knowledge about how to edit pages in WordPress you’ll be able to “embed” the code for a MailChimp form and enable all your customers to “opt in” to your marketing messages. We’ve recently written more about MailChimp, including the costs (free for small business!) and the benefits to you.