In these slow recovering times increasing sales revenue is on the mind of every small business owner. Unfortunately most small business owners have never had to focus upon sales and marketing. Their sales plan consisted of little more than answering the phone. No, when desperate, they try things that they have never done before—mailings, radio, tv, print advertising, and many other things that they have never had to do before. Unfortunately they all seem to miss the utilization of their most valuable asset—their customer list.
Your customer list is your most valuable marketing asset. These people have bought from you. They could either buy again, buy more or refer someone who will buy. The mining of your customer list is the most efficient and effective marketing function that you can do and yet few companies are set up to effectively take advantage of this asset.
You sales and marketing system must start with the ability to find and contact your customers. The Fremont Group highly recommends the utilization of a Customer Relations Management (CRM) software program. We have done the legwork and recommend Highrise from 37signals. In the right sidebar is a link to this program—if you use this link you will receive a free month of use. We call it the “Play School” version of CRM because it is so simple and no one can screw it up. It is what is referred to as a “cloud based” system—in other words it is not loaded onto your hardware, you access it through the internet. Now that security issues have been resolved with these systems, they offer significant benefits. First is cost—it is hard to pay more than $50 per month for it’s use; second is the program is automatically maintained and cannot be corrupted—it never requires up-dates; and third, it can be accessed from anywhere you can get on the internet so people are not tied to the office. By entering in all your existing customers (they can be imported from Quick Books or any other list) you now have instant access to your customer base. By continuing to build this data base you now have the ability to continually market to your customers, the ability to instantly access every contact that your company has with their customers, and the ability to communicate through cases and tasks all of the things that slip through the cracks in your paper-based office. Come on—it is 2010!
No better marketing plan can be established than just contacting people and the best people to contact are your customers.