By Winston Wijeyeratne and Selvam Sinnappan, Founders of Sleeping Duck
A main engine for business growth is customer referrals.
It's what people say about you when you are not in the room
Rather than investing heavily in marketing, focus your resources into generating a positive and memorable customer experience. It begins from the moment a potential customer hears about you, to when they purchase the product and finally when they use the product for its intended life cycle.
While small businesses don't have the luxury of large teams and budgets, they do have one massive advantage over the big brands ─ they are able to listen to their customers and really make each one feel valued.
When starting out, ask yourselves two questions: What's wrong with the industry as it stands and how can you improve this for a customer? Although our experience directly relates to the mattress industry, we've found that the below problems/solutions are apparent across many industries.
Problem #1: Confusion in the product offer
We all live in a society that suffers from too much choice. In most industries there is an overwhelming amount of similar products with no logical difference for wildly varying price points.
Solution: Narrow your offering so you only sell products that have real differences and price them fairly even if your competitors are not. Consider how you can customise the products you have before adding a new one to the mix. In a saturated market, customers enjoy the simplicity and will be thankful that you've done the research for them.
Problem #2: A poor point of sales experience
In a bricks and mortar retail environment, customers feel like they were being pressured to purchase (if you've ever been mattress shopping then you'll know what I'm talking about). It can be daunting, confusing and difficult to make a decision with a pushy salesman standing over you.
Solution: Employ a non-commissioned based customer service team. If you aren’t confident that the product will sell itself, then you probably should think twice if it's the right fit for the customer and your company. You will find that it builds a layer of trust between you and the customer.
Problem #3: A non-existent after sales experience
A customer who pays for something that they're not 100% happy with can do a serious amount of damage to a company’s reputation. A happy customer might tell one or two people about their experience, an unhappy customer will tell everyone.
Solution: It's impossible for one product to suit 100% of people, so we don’t pretend otherwise. If practical, offer a free trial and a 'no questions asked' return policy. Being upfront about a returns policy can create a lower barrier to entry. Follow-up calls to customers after they have had time to try your product, not only offers valuable feedback, but shows that you care and acts as a prompt for them to spread the word.
Creating a remarkable experience that is worth talking about can be the easiest win your marketing team will ever have.