By Jeff Quigley
This final area regarding marketing your home-based business is probably the most important. Let’s say you’ve determined your purpose and developed a process and a product that will satisfy your cause. You have marketed your business locally and have taken advantage of all the online marketing your computer can handle. You’re seeing customers on a regular basis, and you’re starting to feel like your home-based business is going to really take off. If you neglect this last area of marketing—performance—you can throw it all away.
By performance, I mean the customer service, followup and post-sale communication that sets good businesses apart from great businesses. Just because you have made a sale, don’t think that your job is complete and the deal is over. Each transaction you make (whether a sale or a donation) is the opening handshake to a new relationship with a customer or client. If you give attention to your performance after the sale, you’ll not just have a customer, but you’ll develop a friend.
As I mentioned earlier, we have been blessed with a wonderful pair of Great Pyrenees dogs that make beautiful puppies. These dogs are born with instincts that make them natural guardians for goats, chickens, and other small farm animals. We try to market and sell these puppies strictly to goat farms where the dogs’ natural instincts will be useful and appreciated.
During a recent litter of puppies, we were approached by a prominent couple in our little town who were looking for a pet. They had seen the flyer about our puppies at the local veterinarian and wanted to take a closer look. When they arrived at our little farm, you could tell the sale was already made. They loved everything they saw—our goats, our horses, our house. And then we went to the barn to see the puppies. Within seconds, both husband and wife were wiping tears from their eyes, cooing and giggling at the pile of puffballs that were frolicking happily at their feet. They quickly picked out the smallest girl, calling her “Dolly” and letting her lick their faces at will. It was a match made in heaven, or so it seemed.
Just seven days later, the phone rang, and it was this couple on the other end. They sadly informed us that neither they nor their neighbors could handle the incessant barking and howling coming from their sweet little Dolly, and they asked if we would possibly be willing to take her back. Obviously, we agreed to take the puppy back and offered a full refund.
When speaking of customer service, what might look like a dead end can sometimes end up being a new stream of revenue. While we lost this particular sale with Dolly, the couple was so impressed with our gracious attitude that they told a few of their friends. While this publicity hasn’t brought about any other business yet, we have formed a friendship with this couple, and they are quick to call us by name when we see them in public.
It’s important to see the bigger picture when talking about customer service. It is your performance in this area that turns customers into friends. Everyone enjoys a good cheeseburger, but they will come back and bring their friends if you offer a complimentary milkshake with the meal. Anyone can sell handcrafted items through eBay, but a special seller will enclose a handwritten thank you note in the package. A home-based mechanic in our town recently started offering a free car wash with every service. His $2.00 investment has spurred his business so much that he now pays his niece to wash the cars, leaving him to do the real work. Performance is putting a personal touch on each sale.
The ideas and options for putting a special touch on each sale are limitless. This is one area that can really influenced by keeping an eye on the competition. If someone across town is selling a similar item, but adding a nice upgrade or offering free gift-wrapping, you’d be smart to follow suit and take it a step further. The goal is to make your business stand out above others of a similar nature. Use your imagination and be creative when putting your personal touch on customer service. You never know what might really be a hit with your clientele.
We have explored the four P’s of marketing for home-based business. In review, they are:
- Product: choosing the right product or service to sell is the first step toward the success or failure of your home-based business
- Packaging: an effective branding strategy will help you to successfully position your business in the public eye. This involves:
- Purpose—The real reason you’re in business to begin with
- Purity—Being consistent on every angle in fulfilling your purpose
- Perseverance—Being willing to change and update your methods
- People—Leaving customers not with a product, but an experience
- Persona—The look, feel, and overall image of your business
- Promotion: taking an active approach to publicity and target marketing
- Performance: the customer service and follow-up that creates friends