When the opportunity comes to grow your business, you’ll want to take steps to expand effectively. The path to higher profits doesn’t have to be treacherous; in fact there are several strategies that have the power to substantially increase your revenues with low risk or cost. Should you focus on expanding your customer service efforts or launch a new email marketing campaign? Here are some options:
Stand Out on the web
Use social networking sites to interact regularly with your fans, followers and customers. The thousands of people who follow your satisfied customer will hear a positive review of your company and give you indirect promotion. If you are considering launching a social media strategy, design outreach that fits your specific needs and allows you to be consistent. As Kristina Halvorson (author of Content Strategy for the Web) says: treat your social media efforts like a commitment, not a campaign.
Investigate joint partnerships
One of the fastest and most effective ways to dramatically increase your sales is to form a promotional partnership with a similar business. Find mutually beneficial opportunities with those who have the ability impact your business for a cut of the action. The types of joint partnerships you can put together are practically endless but in order to be effective both companies must have something that the other lacks. These deficits are commonly things like funding, market share, products or services.
As an example, let’s say you run a company with a great new product but have no access to customers. You might consider partnering with a relevant blog that has a huge readership who should be interested in hearing about your product. In this arrangement, the blog enjoys a passive revenue stream while your company experiences a burst in exposure.
An affiliate network is a community of marketing professionals looking for new products to promote, and brands like yours seeking to grow their sales. As you join one of the major networks (such as Commission Junction and ShareASale,) determine how much you are willing to pay an affiliate for each lead they produce. Some companies choose a percentage-of sale model (say, 3% of all sales over $5.00), while others pay a flat rate for every lead they receive. You can also set some basic terms of your offer that affiliates must follow in order to stay in the program, such as restricting them from using your brand name in their URL or making promises your company cannot keep.
One of the biggest benefits of recruiting affiliates is that they own the cost of experimentation. Since affiliates are always trying to maximize the number of sales they send you, they frequently experiment with new methods of advertising on the major search engines, buying advertising all over the web, e-mail marketing, and in some cases even sending out promotional mailings. If their methods are successful, you simply pay them a cut of the sales. On the other hand, if their marketing experiments fail, the affiliates absorb 100% of the loss and your bank account is no worse for wear.
Attend industry conferences
Conferences are large events organized by the leaders of your industry, and they are hotbeds for networking. Some of these events are about skill-building, others are explicitly held for meet-and-greet purposes. What matters is that both seasoned professionals and hungry newcomers in your field will be in attendance. It’s a valuable opportunity to hear about best practices, meet the leaders within your field and expand your network.
Before attending, gain some insight into who the guest speakers and event coordinators will be. These are the big players and could be great targets for joint partnership opportunities. The other attendees are there to have their problems solved and meet others in their field, which also makes them perfect prospects for your business.
Perfect your elevator pitch
When seeking new customers or meeting clients face to face (especially at industry events), a shorter pitch can help you deliver a more lasting impact. You may have memorized several pages about who you are, why you’re the best, and how you’re different than the rest but few busy professionals have the time to listen to a stranger explain their business in great detail. A brief, to the point pitch quickly followed by the passing of your business card will attract far more calls.
This is what’s known as your “elevator pitch.” A pitch so focused and it could be given to someone you meet for just a few moments in an elevator, and be over by the time you reach your floor. The key is to shorten the pitch to about 2 to 3 sentences and still convey your unique selling point effectively. Avoid vague language such as “I’m your go-to guy,” and stick to specific, descriptive benefits you can bring to the table.