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How To Turn Your Failing Business Around with Smart Marketing
I Met A Small Business Owner At A Bar
He was distraught because his 35 year old business, his livelihood, was at stake. Let's call him "Guy". Guy owns a custom blinds business. After 35 years in business he has so few clients that he may have to shut it down. He's tried everything with his website to encourage business, but no one is contacting him through his website. He wonders if his industry is just dying, or if there's anything he can do to get clients to hire him. I took his business card and promised to reach out to him with my ideas. When I did my research into his website, marketing messages, and analytics, I found a few things that could turn him around.
These are the ideas I shared with him.
His Home Page Message is not resonating with his audience.
To learn how important your audience is to your business, please read Important-Audience
It's unfortunate when we don't understand our audience. We need to identify who our audience is, and what they want from us. Then we need to give it to them. In Guy's case he has three audiences.
A business who needs new custom blinds either because they want to update the appearance of their office, or they are moving into a new office space. Budget may or may not be a top issue.
A wealthy home owner who wants to impress his or her friends with the latest trendy window coverings in their new or existing home. Budget is not an issue.
A do it yourself, or inexpensive blinds by a person unlikely to hire him. Budget is an issue.
When looking at his home page marketing message, it was clear to me that he doesn't understand his base of potential buyers. What is his home page greeting?
50% off residential customers only. Free cordless option.
Let's go back to his audience. He needs a home page message that resonates with BOTH business buyers and the wealthy home owner. The wealthy home owner doesn't necessarily care about 50% off. They want to learn about the latest trends, and the newest styles, that shows off their home to their friends. What the luxury buyer wants is an expensive window covering that exudes wealth.
The business client is gone because his website specials don't apply to them. You have 8 seconds to grab the interest of your buyer. Use it wisely.
It may seem counter intuitive when your business is dying to actually RAISE your prices, but that's what I would do in his case for the residential home buyer. All the research should be on getting to the emotion of the luxury home owner, but also allow a message for the business owner looking for custom blinds.
Here’s a Strong Marketing Message
I know luxury window coverings. I make it my business to know. That's why we have been around for 35 years. Let us recommend the right blinds for your home or business.
The Home Page Opens With A Talking Video. (Big No-No)
Some people do go online at work when they shouldn't. If they are not allowed to go online and your home page starts screaming a video at them, they will jump off your site. Many people I have interviewed don't like a video that starts opening without your permission. If you do want a home page video on your small business, please make sure it is set for the listener to decide whether they want to view it. You can do it with a compelling graphic and a nice sales message to get them to watch it.
His Website Should Segment His Luxury Home Business From His Business Clients Through The Navigation.
With a solid home page message and some rotating images of the work he's performed both for the luxury home buyer and the business buyer, he should funnel each buyer into looking where they are interested. Within each segment he can drive home a more narrow marketing message that gets to the emotion of the purchase. On the luxury side, his marketing message should be all about the refined elegance and the latest styles. On the business side, he can focus on the different needs, such as a nursery needing shades that keep all light out, or that have cordless blinds for safety, to a merchant who needs light to come into the store, but UV protection for the merchandise so it doesn't fade. This would be especially helpful to museums, or artists displaying their work for sale.
Do A Blog And/OR Video "How TO" Campaign With My Keyword Research Input.
Even if he gets zero sales helping consumers with professional advice gives them confidence in his ability. We should write articles and publish them online. We should discuss things such as " How To Install Blinds", or "Roller Shade Installation", to "Spring Window Fashions" and "Commercial Sun Shades". Be the authority on your business, and give away free advice. Everyone loves free advice. Free advice can lead to paid advice later.
Next Day Blinds Is His Leading Competitor
What comes with a big competitor? A loss of personal service. He should play up his personal service. Then he should look for all the bad reviews from Next Day Blinds, or even another competitor, Budget Blinds. Why would he look at Budget Blinds reviews? Because he is the opposite of what they offer and he should play it up by eliminating those concerns from his business model. It's amazing how effective addressing concerns from competitors websites helps your small business compete. For instance, here's a bad review that he could address:
"The buying experience was fine. It was the installation that was a HUGE hassle. It took FIVE times to get ALL of the blinds right. That should not have taken so many times. The roller shades were damaged before install even occurred. This was due to them heating up in the truck" - Next Day Blinds Review
And here is one from Budget Blinds.
"I got a set of panel blinds through Budget Blinds several years ago and had a pretty good experience. Those blinds, however, stopped working properly (not all of the panels would retract when you pulled the cord) and the original install was not done well -- the blinds had to be screwed into a wood strip beside the textured portion of my ceiling, and not all of the screws went into the wood. I also wanted to get some additional blinds, so I contacted Budget Blinds again and worked with Scott to get an estimate. The repairs were to be included as warranty work. In addition to the repair, I wanted to have a roller shade put in to match the panel blinds, and to have wooden blinds put into my bedroom. Of all the things I mentioned in this review, only the wooden blinds and the screw fix have been done so far. I took a half day off work and confirmed with Scott the work that was to be done, but when the install guy came, he said he couldn't do the panel blind work because it was a two-person job. Additionally, the roller shade had a valance that completely mismatched the original valance on the panel blinds. The first installation was in August, where the bedroom blinds were done, and they came back shortly after that to fix the screws. It is now November and I have been on a course since the first installation of pestering Scott to get the remaining work done (fixing the panel issue and replacing the valance), occasionally getting a response that he would look into it, and then still not actually getting the remaining work scheduled or done. It got to the point where I had to threaten a chargeback with my credit card company for the deposit if the work doesn't get done by December 1. Will keep Yelp posted as to whether I have to do this or not. Bottom line, you sort of get what you pay for. Yes the blinds are nice quality and much cheaper than Next Day Blinds or the equivalent, but you pay for the difference in time in dealing with such woeful customer service." - Budget Blinds
Just think about all the PR you can have on your website just discussing a few bad reviews by your competitors. You don't have to name them by name to address your potential client concerns. You can show how you are better, different, unlike your competitors by address negative reviews on your own website.
Lastly, he needs more reviews from his happy clients, especially given he's been in business for 35 years. We need to buckle down and ask them to review him.
Off Website Ideas
Go to realtor conventions and solicit real estate agents to include his business card with their welcome packet. Solicit small home builders and commercial builders with his business card.
We have only begun to scratch the surface with ideas to help. Unfortunately, not everyone will believe in this type of marketing, and that's okay. No one gets 100% conversion. If you just think about these ideas and implement them for your own small business website, then that's good enough for me.