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Most Effective Business Strategy?
How Do You Increase Your Client Base?
mich9el




msg:785908
 8:33 am on Dec 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

You're a very successful business person.

You know there're lots of hype, fake,
over-promise, untruth claims on the net.

It's hard to differentiate.
So, I've to ask your trusted opinions
and advises.

What's the only method/tactic/strategy..
that has been most effective
generating clients for you?

 

Macro




msg:785909
 10:14 am on Dec 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

That's as vague as "How do you repair a car?".

My most effective tactic has been to spend a lot of time on this forum to read and read and read.

If you're looking for a shortcut, there isn't one that I know of.

Matt Probert




msg:785910
 10:54 am on Dec 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

Exactly the same as for any other business-to-business selling procedure. Learn to be an effective salesman, contact prospects, satisfy their requirements within their budget.

Matt

BwanaZulia




msg:785911
 1:05 pm on Dec 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

Build a great website and follow it up with good customer service which includes doing what is "right" sometimes over what is "profitable".

BZ

Stores




msg:785912
 4:49 am on Dec 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

Build a great website and follow it up with good customer service which includes doing what is "right" sometimes over what is "profitable".

Ditto that...dazzle them every step of the way.

webwoman




msg:785913
 7:13 pm on Dec 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

Make sure you only send out quality products in a timely fashion to paid customers and always add something extra (service, help, information) to keep them coming back.

WebDon




msg:785914
 4:39 am on Dec 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

Being VERY active in our local chamber of commerce. Of course, our local chamber of commerce is 1200+ members so that helps a lot.

johntabita




msg:785915
 8:41 pm on Dec 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

Build a great website and follow it up with good customer service which includes doing what is "right" sometimes over what is "profitable".

Make sure you only send out quality products in a timely fashion to paid customers and always add something extra (service, help, information) to keep them coming back.

Of course, these are very important things to do, but they really are "the cost of entry"; in other words, clients expect these things, and if you aren't doing them, you shouldn't be in business to begin with. If you neglect this area, you'll most certainly lose customers. But doing them doesn't ensure that you'll gain customers.

Don't confuse the purpose of customer service with sales and marketing. The goal of your customer service should be to provide such exceptional service that your clients wouldn't dream of going elsewhere. It's goal is to keep customers, not gain new ones.

I think people suppose that, by providing such good service, your existing clients will refer enough "word of mouth" business to you. That may be fine if you're freelancing a bit on the side, because all you'll probably get is just "enough". But if you want to sustain a full-time business, you'll need to do more.

If you want word of mouth to be successful, consider joining or creating some type of referral network, where each member actively refers clients to one another. The Chamber of Commerce is different -- their purpose is to create an environment in which people can meet and network, but members do not actively refer others in the same manner as a network referral group.

You can even put together your own group. Just find 5 or 10 other people who sell to the same prospects that you do, but don't compete with each other, and start referring business to one another.

mifi601




msg:785916
 9:09 pm on Dec 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

johntabita - that's VERY sound advice!

Stores




msg:785917
 3:52 am on Dec 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

I think people suppose that, by providing such good service, your existing clients will refer enough "word of mouth" business to you. That may be fine if you're freelancing a bit on the side, because all you'll probably get is just "enough". But if you want to sustain a full-time business, you'll need to do more.

I'm not trying to toot my own horn here by any means...but this proves my point...take it for what its worth.

We've grown from a small 5 man show...to a 25 person multi-million dollar firm in 1 year...with no additional financing and a marketing budget of less than 10K.

Why? Outstanding customer service and the trickle down effects of "word of mouth". The 10k was also poorly spent because of time constraints. We grew too quickly to focus on marketing at all...we put all of our focus on quality, delivery, and customer service...and the rewards have been incredible.

BwanaZulia




msg:785918
 5:23 pm on Dec 31, 2004 (gmt 0)

johntabita, I am not sure I agree with you 100%.

Yes, of course letting the word of mouth game take its course will be longer than advertising on the Superbowl, but it is a valid strategy.

Great products and customer service spread faster than you think. This is the age of information and one good deed can actually spread to many through blogs, discussion boards, IM, email.

Take the best customer care you have ever seen and do better. Make things easy for the customer and spend time communicating with them.

One of the key aspects of customer service now is personal timely response. People don't want automated this or that. They just want the RIGHT question answered with the RIGHT answer as soon as they can get it.

BZ

johntabita




msg:785919
 7:52 pm on Dec 31, 2004 (gmt 0)

Great products and customer service spread faster than you think. This is the age of information and one good deed can actually spread to many through blogs, discussion boards, IM, email.

Of course these things can and do happen, but they are generally the exception, not the norm. The OP asked for the "most effective" business strategy to get new clients. IMO, simply providing great customer service and relying on the resulting word-of-mouth is not it.

There isn't a business on the planet that would put that in their business plan as their primary method of customer aquisition, and there isn't a bank or investor that would give them money, if they did.

Don't just take my word for it. Read what the experts have to say. Take a look at "The World's Best Known Marketing Secret: Building Your Business With Word-Of-Mouth Marketing" by Ivan Misner, founder of BNI.

BoogieDown




msg:785920
 8:17 pm on Dec 31, 2004 (gmt 0)

--First of all there isn’t “ONE STRATEGY” for success on the internet--

With that said…

I would start generating a useful opt-in newsletter for your site.

This will allow you to build confidence with your clients as you offer them FREE advice on what ever service/product you sale.

As you build this opt-in newsletter data base of emails, you will have the opportunity to advertise your service to all those that sign up for your service.

I have found this to be one of the most successful ways to build a cliental of specific clients. This takes time and A LOT of patience but if you are in your business for the long-run, than this is a great thing to start.

Good Luck!

Web Footed Newbie




msg:785921
 8:24 pm on Dec 31, 2004 (gmt 0)

Welcome to Webmaster World, Mich9el!
You have asked a very broad question that can have many answers, but here are a couple broad strokes for you to ponder:
Under-promise, over-deliver. By setting customer expectations early, but then beating those expectations, customers love it. Ever have a cable company tell you they will be at your home for installation between 8AM to 5PM, only to have them show up at 8:30am so you can get on with your day?
Web-based business, put on a face! Our company sells on the internet, with about 1/2 our sales done by telephone generated sales from our websites and the other 1/2 by click and buy (ecommerce). Since 1/2 our sales are generated via ecommerce with no salesperson involved, we send out personal "thank you" emails, including a real name and phone number of their personal customer service representative so if there are any questions, they can call or email a real person! Voila!

And remember:
Generating clients leads is promotion/advertising (along with word of mouth as others have written here)
Generating clients from leads is sales
Generating clients for life is customer service and client marketing.

Hope these broads strokes help, and keep reading here at WW!
Good luck, WFN

Playful Melissa




msg:785922
 5:37 pm on Jan 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

I agree - customer service is everything
I agree - delivery is important
I agree - quality is paramount

Word of mouth is fabulous

But it all comes done to one simple fact:

Perception is reality

or

Reality is only altered by perception

So keeping an eye on the perception you present which is affected by customer service, delivery, quality, follow up, etc.

jo1ene




msg:785923
 7:12 pm on Jan 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

I don't really see how word of mouth works for an exclusively online business unless you're some kind of industry giant. The Inter-nut is a pretty crowded place.

In functioning with humans, word of mouth IS THE way to go. But in order for it to work properly, you must differentiate yourslf in some way to get people to talk.

For instance, my husband (in computer consulting) has every body in town talking about him. People on the street (some that he doesn't even know) recognize him. "Hey! Certified Genius!" (That's what he calls himself.) He's the most adorable, kind, honest, and cheapest "computer guy" in the county. The comical business name helps too. My dad also is very honest in an industry mostly of crooks. Word of mouth was THE primary advertising in both ventures. It took about one year.

Perhaps, differentiation is the key in both cases.

fiu88




msg:785924
 8:32 pm on Jan 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

>I don't really see how word of mouth works for an exclusively online business unless you're some kind of industry giant. The Inter-nut is a pretty crowded place.

There are thousands of forums people use to share thoughts, ideas and experiences in dealing with vendors...... Word of mouth on 50K strong forum pumping your site is going to translate into BIG word of mouth traffic........

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