Now that the Stanley Cup is back in the city where it rightfully belongs, you have to admit that it was one of the most gut-wrenching playoff series to date. In the midst of all of the overtimes, injuries and last minute comebacks, I got to thinking about the parallels between the Blackhawks’ quest for the Cup and the challenges facing a lot of small business owners.
Both are constantly up against formidable competitors, have amassed diehard vocal and local fans, and possess palpable determination and drive. Yet when it comes down to it, there can only be one winner. Customers will either choose you or the competition. So what tips the odds in your favor? A lot of successful entrepreneurs will tell you it’s a combination of email, social media and event marketing. Otherwise known as a hat trick in hockey parlance.
You may be thinking if everybody’s starting at the same blue line and using the same marketing tools, where are the slap-shot moves? Here are five key maneuvers that will consistently get you into the net and, just like the Blackhawks, you’ll be able to win on the competitor’s ice.
- Learn the rules and earn the right to play. The first rule is to always ask permission before adding customers to your email list. From there, be sure to consistently share valuable information that speaks to their interests and needs as opposed to overt selling.
- Score big with your best customers. Invest your time in engaging your most active customers. After all, they’re more likely to be the primary source of your word-of-mouth referrals.
- Identify your MVP customers. Among your most active customers, a subgroup of raving fans will emerge. Be sure to thank them by sending personalized emails, presenting special offers, and hosting private events that give them an inside edge.
- Practice in the off-season. Every business faces timeouts and slower periods in customer activity. Use the time you’re resting on the bench to assess your marketing progress to date and fine-tune your programs so that you’re always at the top of your game.
- Play to your strengths. You’ll stand out by showcasing your strengths and differentiators as opposed to playing a "me too" position. Customers will come to you first for your expertise and then you’ll be able to experience a halo effect as they discover your other products.
Steve Robinson is Constant Contact’s small business expert in Illinois and Wisconsin. A knowledgeable marketing expert with 30 years of experience, Steve has helped thousands of small businesses, associations, and nonprofits develop and implement effective email marketing, social media and online survey strategies. A popular speaker and educator, Steve gives small businesses and nonprofits the tools, techniques, and strategies they need to grow and expand their business and to maximize the power of relationship marketing. Steve’s experience in small business ownership, business development, sales, and fundraising help associations, small businesses and nonprofits achieve success.