When Goldman Sachs invested in Arizona-based Infusionsoft last year, they were actually investing in small business as the economic engine of the future. Infusionsoft, one of the largest of the many small business marketing companies, grows its own business by creating a community of its customers, and encouraging them to help each other grow.
Small businesses often face a conundrum: they know they need to do more marketing to attract more customers, but since they don't have much in the way of resources, they pretty much have to do it themselves. And they don't have time, don't know how, and can't outsource it.
Infusionsoft solves that problem with its slogan "Automation Means Domination" and an army of experts who help each other learn how to create marketing programs that work. At this year's InfusionCon, I sat in on the Ultimate Marketer Contest finals and listened to the finalists talk about what worked for them. The three finalists in the contest had all tripled the size of their businesses in the past year. And believe me, they weren't in typical gazelle businesses: they were a company that helps churches raise money, an orthodontics practice, and a team sports apparel company. They're the kinds of companies that go from $200,000 in revenue to $2 million in a year using common marketing strategies, good software, and guidance.
Here were ten big takeaways from the Ultimate Marketer Finalists:
1.Don't grow away from your customers. As you grow, you may find you are interacting with customers less. That's bad.
2. Automation trumps determination. You can't stay in touch without help; marketing automation creates a foundation of stability as the business grows and allows you to keep close to customers.
3. Create a webinar that will help your target customers do something important.
4. Use broadcast email to invite them and others to the webinar.
5. Learn what the perfect customer life cycle is for your business. Examine how long it takes to make a sale after you generate a lead.
6. Attract traffic to your web site using social media, but don't try to do it all. Use one tool well—either Facebook, or Twitter, or LinkedIn. Don't try to maintain too many profiles.
7.Build a list of email addresses. Test several different landing pages to see which attracts the most email addresses.
8. Build campaigns based around your email addresses, and offer free information. Convert this to sales by offering a free trial.
9. Send handwritten thank you notes to new customers.
10. Turn your customers into affiliate marketers and/or advocates.
I was amazed at how much these small businesses were able to do with a little guidance and a good software package. Those who are willing to invest some time in automating their marketing will undoubtedly see a return on their investment.
[Image: Flickr user Massimiliano Giani]