As human beings, we enjoy being helpful. If you politely ask for help, people will step forward to offer it. So, why does it have to be any different with small business advertising? Shouldn’t we be able to ask for help with our marketing strategies instead of stretching ourselves thin in order to appeal to our audience?

Human beings handle life in a unique way. We like to be part of an exclusive group where we can share our thoughts freely. Most of us enjoy feeling (and being!) smart, and will gladly give our opinion when asked for it. The funny thing is: we rarely ask our customers what they think, even though they are the ones we’re advertising to.

Does your small business advertising need a boost? Have you ever considered using your customers to do it? Customers are your greatest assets. Invite them to help you with your marketing strategies.

Request Your Customers’ Cooperation

How do you get your customers to work with you? You ask them. Wouldn’t it be nice if your current customers became your spokespeople as well as buyers?

Drew McLellan, a marketing writer for Business2Community, suggested a few tactics to help boost your customer marketing strategy.

1. User Generated Content

Get them talking about how much they enjoy your services or products by asking them to create. By setting up a contest that involves art, photos, and stories about your store you can boost your marketing tenfold. Not only do your customers feel like they’re contributing to your brand, but they also see their opinion matters when they get to vote on the other contestant’s work. The winner can be featured on the blog that month, or even your Facebook page. For incentive, you can offer the winner a $5 off coupon for their next trip to your store. Make them feel like their work is contributing – and that you’re glad to hear from them.

2. Create a blog post or online forum for brainstorming

What can you do to serve your customers more thoroughly? Use an online site to ask how you can improve your store, or how you can make the customers more comfortable. Choose a small group of customers or leave it open for the public to join, and let them at it! Request that people join the conversation and post it on your social media sites. Make a blog post about it. This is a chance to learn from your audience!

3. Make a poll

If you give your customers a chance to impact your business, you’ll find them stepping up to offer suggestions. Allow your customers to vote on something like a new product launch or pricing issue in your store, and then listen to the opinions thrown your way. The easiest way to do this is through Facebook or social media. You can learn a lot about your marketing audience this way!

4. Use a Customer Loyalty Program

To add to this list of suggestions, I would like to mention loyalty programs. A good rewards program is an excellent way to market to your current audience and attract new customers. Not only does it make customers feel included in an excluded group, but it gives them an opportunity to save money. 

Give Them the Opportunity

Everyone wants to be heard. Luckily, it’s easy to get people to talk. Just ask them to speak up! Increase your customer interaction by asking for their opinions, or by asking what they’re looking for in a product. The methods above are great ways to get started, but that’s not where you should stop. Do whatever you can to get interaction from your customers.

If you impress the people who buy from you, your reputation will grow through word of mouth, social media, and various other websites as customers share their experience with their friends and family. As Drew McLellan said in his article, “a study commissioned by the Corporate Executive Board [found that] 60% of the sales cycle is over before a buyer ever speaks to the salesperson.” What does this mean? A lot of your advertising has already been done by spreading your reputation through the web, social media, and your customers. Strengthen your marketing strategies by interacting and asking your customers for their opinions.

Create More Effective Marketing Strategies

If you’re part of something, you tend to feel more connected to it. The more you allow customers to have a hand in your business, the more they feel like insiders with valued opinions. Turn your small business advertising into a project where their opinions make a difference and generate more traffic to your store.

It’s time to create a better marketing strategy by involving your customers in the process. Pick one of the methods above and try it out. In today’s economy, customers need a little special something to make them love a store. Let us know how it goes!

Inspired by: Let Your Customers Help by Drew McLellan