Learn who your customers are and focus your sales and marketing efforts on the types of customer you want more of. Don't forget about the power of word of mouth - get reviews and publish the hell out of them! The most powerful sales tactic you have is the genuine, honest and positive reviews from happy customers. You'll see below how supporting your strongest customers can lead to huge growth over time.
The cheapest and most common way businesses start selling products or services is through a method you may have not heard of, but have likely either used or come across at some point, called a waterfall strategy, or sequential launch.
The idea of the waterfall strategy is that you rely on social interactions between your customers to grow knowledge of your brand or product and sales - sounds familiar, right?
This concept was thought of long before the birth of social media, but we all know how social media works and it's a huge key to successfully spreading the word about your products or services.
One customer tells another how brilliant your business is, that person tells someone else and that person someone else. Before you know it, that single customer has become 3 customers, and your loyal customers have become the most powerful marketing team in the world! You've been using the Waterfall Diffusion Strategy without even knowing it existed, pretty cool.
The Sprinkler Launch on the other hand, is a much quicker way to make sales but requires much more effort on your part. It involves you selling directly to multiple people all at once - meaning you put the hard work in, and probably a lot of money, for immediate results rather than waiting for word of mouth to spread. This is great if you or your product aren't planning on sticking around, but doesn't lead to long term growth.
We know that it's important to stay in touch with your customers, letting them know you're there can both encourage them to continue to buy, and also encourage them to keep talking about you, sharing your social media posts or some affiliate links.
If you only make marketing efforts before launch, we call this a stationary strategy, but continuing the sales efforts depending on adoption rates is called a responsive strategy.
The ways in which we can support customers is called 'Seeding'.
There are 3 types of seeding: Support the strong, support the weak and uniform support.
This strategy is when you focus all of your marketing and sales effort and budget toward areas of the market, or groups of people, where the adoption rate is strong. This increases the number of sales from these markets but sales in other markets do not grow at all.
Small business example: imagine you sell hot cross buns, and most of your customers are men within a 20 mile radius, aged between 38 and 45. If you only focussed on trying to get more sales from people who match this criteria, you would likely be successful as it's clear they are the right type of people to buy your product, but you would be diminishing chances of sales to all other customers.
This strategy is where you target all of your efforts into markets or towards people with a low adoption rate of your business or product. This method can be used well to increase overall sales, as the strong markets might not need as much encouragement to buy as the customers in weaker markets.
Small business example: this is where, using the above analogy, you focus your Facebook ads or other marketing efforts perhaps towards women within a 20 mile radius aged between 45 and 55. If this works, you now have sales from the original market as well as this new market who intially didn't purchase as much.
This strategy is the benchmark for stationary strategies and involves evenly allocating marketing budget and efforts across all markets regardless of adoption rates. You could describe this as a sprinkler launch system but scaled down to the size of a single market.
Uniform and support the weak strategies often provide similar results in terms of the increase in adopters.
Image above: Libai, B., Muller, E., Peres, R., 2005. The role of seeding in multi-market entry. International Journal of Research in Marketing [online[, 22 (4), (p. 386).
There's a weird chart, right? What's shown here is the effects of using the 3 different support strategies. You can see that when supporting the strong you gain sequential market growth and you gain fewer but far more concentrated areas of adopters. But with the other two strategies you get more a sprinkler reaction, where you have many more areas of adopters but each group is far smaller.
The biggest thing we can take from this, is just how important your customers are, and not only that, but the importance of people who aren't yet your customers. It may seem like a long way around, but we've arrived quite definitely at the power of word of mouth for your business.
The single biggest thing you can do right now in order to increase your growth or number of sales is to really pay attention to who your customers are, look them in the eye if you can, ask them how they are.
Once you know the background of who the majority of your customers are, that opens the doors to so many opportunies for you. You can target your sales efforts towards those groups if you wish, change up your offerings to suit those people, and you can also make sure that your branding aligns perfectly with your customer base.