Don’t you just love Paul Simon? The lyrics to his songs are not only pleasing to the ears, but can be inspirational. Imagine yourself enjoying the warm autumn sunlight while listening to Paul's song, “50 Ways to Leave your Lover”. Now, stretch your imagination just a bit and think about how many "Ways" you can come up with for saving and/or making more money in business...
“The problem is all inside your head
She said to me
The answer is easy
If you take it logically”
So, let’s look at the problem logically for a minute. Here are four basic ways you can increase your profits:
1. You can charge more for your products or services.
2. You can sell more of your products or services to your existing clients.
3. You can find additional clients.
4. You can find ways to cut back on your business expenses.
"Slip Out the Back, Jack" (Simple ways to save money):
So, if you’re on a shoestring budget (and who isn’t these days?), then obviously you need to do everything you can to save as much money as possible, and make as much money as possible, as quickly and easily as possible. Here are 10 simple ideas you can use:
1. Know your target market. Who are your “ideal” customers?
Where do they shop? What do they read? What solutions are they looking for that your business provides? The more you know about your customers, the better you’ll be able to target your promotions towards them, which will increase your bottom line two ways – it will save you spending money on advertising that doesn’t work, and it will increase your sales, because you’re offering your customers what they really want.
2. Get double duty out of any contact with your customers. If you sell products, put your contact information on everything –products, bags, invoices sales receipts. Make it easy for everyone to find you. Give away something free. If you have a Website (and if you don’t, then get one), give your customers something for giving you their contact information. Free Ebooks, reports, or software are all good choices (just make sure it’s relevant to your customers). Anytime you send your customers anything – a product, a newsletter, an invoice –include a coupon or information about your latest products or services. To save money on postage, if you have a brick and mortar store, put a copy of your latest newsletter or an informational flyer in your customer’s bag after each sale.
3. Reward your customers. Set up a reward program. Offer them a reward for anyone they refer who becomes a customer. Or give your customers a free gift when they spend $50 (or whatever amount makes sense in your business). When they’re eligible for the free gift, offer them an upgrade to something bigger or better for a few dollars more. Start a customer loyalty program. Provide “customer only” sales, or promotions. Let your customers earn points, or “magic money” that they can use to redeem your products or services.
4. Get ready for your close-up. When you’re brainstorming about creating a promotion or advertising campaign, don’t forget about your local cable TV channel. You may be pleasantly surprised by how low their rates actually are. Create your own television commercial or infomercial. Although you may not be ready for prime time, you can still target your ad to reach your customers.
5. Get involved in your community. Find a nonprofit organization that is doing work you believe in, and either publicly support their program, or be one of their sponsors for an upcoming event or fundraiser. Use the advertising spot to let people know about the fundraiser (and, incidentally, your business). You could put together an inexpensive ad campaign that will help those in need, increase your visibility and let your potential customers know that you're supportive and aware of the needs of the community.
“Make a new plan, Stan” (Business Planning Basics):
6. Beef up your business plan. If you don’t have a business plan, make writing one a priority. Your business plan is more than just a way to interest investors. It’s a road map that will help you get from where you are now to where you want to be. That old saying, “If you fail to plan then you’re planning to fail” really is true when it comes to business.
"No need to be coy, Roy" (Ask your customers):
7. Get testimonials from your satisfied clients. But don’t stop there. What about creating your own television commercial that you can run in your store? (With a video camera and a little ingenuity, you could even create your own infomercial that shows customers how to use or get the most out of your products or services. If you’ve got a Website, put an audio testimonial on there. (And don’t forget to include pictures).
8. Speak up. Again, keeping in mind who your ultimate ideal customers are and what their most pressing problems are, write an article, offer a free seminar, or offer to be a speaker at local chamber of commerce or other organization or community meetings. Being perceived as an “expert” is a relatively easy and inexpensive way to get the word out about your business, and bring in more customers.
"Just hop on the bus, Gus" (Expand your business potential)
9. Create joint ventures. Even if your primary business is a brick and mortar one, you can still create a joint venture that will help you save money by sharing the costs for advertising. What about creating a special “sidewalk sale” with other business owners on your street or in your neighborhood? Or finding businesses with complementary products or services to yours, and creating a “package deal”? If your business is only online, look for ways you can partner with other businesses – maybe you could create solo ads and promote each other’s products or services in your mailing lists. There are a lot of ways you can save money and increase your client base if you’re willing to get creative.
"Just drop off the key, Lee" (Provide the key solutions)
10. Let your customers know you know what their problems are. It's sad but true that your customers don't care how good your products or services are. They only want to know two things: do you understand what their problems are; and can you solve them. Give your customers the "key" to their problems, and you'll have evangelistic customers who come back again and again.