A smile is still the best free advertising
A simple smile is rarely mentioned in advertising text books or classes, but is is one of the most important marketing tools we all possess. A smile forms a powerful human bond and shows you regard a person as a human being, not just another customer or business prospect. A smile makes a person feel good, and perhaps even feel you are a friend. As you know, folks like to buy from friends. That’s why smiles are essential for your senior service business success.
Ask yourself how you felt the last time someone smiled at you. How did it make you feel? I thought so. Remember, smiles are free, requiring only a small amount of energy. Don’t forget that a smile works when you’re chatting on the phone as well, as the person on the other end can actually feel the smile.
Business success is all about paying attention to the little details, like a genuine smile. Share yours with every customer and prospect you meet, and let it work it’s magic for you.
Marketing pros rank customer service right up there in the top three success factors for small business, with quality and confidence. In these competitive times, running a customer-oriented business can make the difference between success and failure. Take a minute to think about your business. What are you doing now to provide the best customer service? How could you make it better?
Customer service should be based on the needs of your customers. It doesn’t matter whether you’re providing in-home care, concierge services or doing a senior home safety checkup. Your success depends on repeat customers. Never forget that a customer’s value is not what they are spending today, but what they might spend over a lifetime as your loyal customer.
Don’t forget the 80/20 rule. 80 percent of many businesses can come from just 20% of the customers. That’s why it is important to focus on ways to increase the average sale from those customers. One of the easiest ways to do this is to offer discounts to your customers on large purchases, such as a small discount on a 40 hour block of in-home services or concierge services when paid in advance.
Listen to your customers. A happy customer will tell five friends about your business, while an unhappy one may tell ten! One way to ensure there are no unhappy customers is to simply check in periodically, and ask “How am I doing?”
Frank Cooper, the author of “The Customer Signs Your Paycheck,” has a checklist for business owners called The 10 Commandments of Customer Relations:
The customer is never an interruption.
Greet every customer with a friendly smile.
Call customers by name.
Remember, you are the company.
Never argue with a customer.
Never say “I don’t know.”
The customer pays your wages.
State things in a positive way.
Brighten every customer’s day.
Always go the extra mile.
Let Google Help Your Customers Find You
Because your senior service business depends on local customers, you’ll benefit from a free listing in Google Places. Today, most of your customers are using internet search engines to find local services and businesses instead of the traditional Yellow Pages. So it makes sense to take advantage of these free listings offered by online directories for businesses. The most popular, and currently the largest, of all is Google Places.
You can start by visiting http://places.google.com and clicking on the ‘get started now’ button under ‘Get your business found on Google.’ After signing in, or signing up, at no cost, you’ll be able to list your business. You can include photos or add a map. To add a map, visit: http://google.com/help/maps/getmaps/plot-one.html
Getting a basic listing is quite simple, but there are a few ways to help your business appear near the top of the listings if you have any local competitors listed as well.
First, remember Google values good content, so be sure you fill out your business profile with quality information. Follow their directions for completing the listing to the letter, and don’t leave any blank spaces.
Next, encourage your customers to leave feedback and positive reviews on any web sites related to your business, such as local directories published by groups like the Chamber of Commerce. You can also ask customers to leave reviews or testimonials on your own senior service business web site, but be sure they are legitimate and genuine.
Lastly, If you don’t have one yet, your business needs a web site, ideally with it’s own domain name, www.lyndenseniorservices.com, for example. Having a web site will give your business, however small it is, a giant boost in the Google rankings. As more and more businesses sign up for Google Places, those who have a web site – the older, the better – will have a better shot at a listing near the top.
Almost any web hosting service can help you obtain a domain name and set up a WordPress site, which ranks well with Google, as WordPress is easy to index. The web hosting business is so competitive, it’s easy to find a capable service for under $10 a month. If you are unwilling to part with that much each month, sign up for Google’s free service at www.blogger.com, or the free version of WordPress at www.wordpress.com.
In addition to Google Places, other major online ‘local’ directories worth exploring are: http://bing.com/local, http://listings.local.yahoo.com, http://yelp.com, http://linkedin.com, http://citysearch.com, http://listings.mapquest.com, http://advertise.local.com. Currently, you can list at any of these at no charge for a basic listing in their directory.
A well-designed logo, or symbol, is one of the best tools in building recognition for your senior service business, even if you’re just getting started. A logo helps people remember your business. When they see the logo in advertising, on a sign or package, on your stationary or on your web site, they make that visual connection to you. A well-designed logo helps establish that your business is legitimate and credible. If you have a logo, people tend to believe that your business is here to stay and trustworthy.
The cost to create a logo for a small business can run from free to $1,000. There are dozens of web-based designers that can create, or provide the tools for you to create, a logo for under $100. To see what’s currently available, do a web search for “free logo maker,” or “budget logo design.” If you’re on a really tight budget, start at www.fiverr.com, and search for “logo design.”
- Here are a few points to remember about planning your logo:
- A logo should be timeless, so it can be used for your business for decades.
- A logo should be simple, easy to understand, and not confuse people.
- Never, ever copy or design a logo similar to another, as it’s an invitation to a lawsuit, as well as just plain lazy.
- Will the logo still make sense as your business expands and grows?
- Is the logo easy to see in all sizes, from a sign at the farmer’s market to a business card?
The Best Free Advertising? Word-of-Mouth
Satisfied customers are a small senior service business “secret weapon,” as they are usually repeat customers and they tell their friends about your business, yet your out-of-pocket advertising cost is zero. Word-of-mouth can be your most effective advertising – if you provide a product that is so good your customers are eager to buy more, whether you are growing apples, mushrooms or Christmas trees. Here are two ways to encourage your happy customers to share their enthusiasm about your business:
1. Always give your customers more than what they expect. Zappo’s does it with free shipping and 110% customer service, bakers do it with the “baker’s dozen” of an extra roll or pastry. Think about how you might surprise your customers when they hire you.
2. Ask for word-of-mouth by asking satisfied customers to refer their friends to you. You can even “bribe” them with a discount or free gift if their friend mentions their name when they buy.
Always treat your satisfied customers with loyalty, kindness and consideration ( Just like you like to be treated!) The more satisfied customers you have, the more additional satisfied customers you’ll gain. Like a snowball rolling downhill, it’s a growing circle of boosters that gets bigger every day – along with your profits.