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A marketing strategy will help you identify your best customers, understand their needs and implement the most effective marketing methods.

The internet has transformed business marketing. No matter what you do, the internet is likely to be at the heart of your marketing strategy.

Social media is firmly established as a marketing tool. Having a presence opens up new lines of communication with existing and potential customers.

Good advertising puts the right marketing message in front of the right people at the right time, raising awareness of your business.

Customer care is at the heart of all successful companies. It can help you develop customer loyalty and improve relationships with your customers.

Sales bring in the money that enables your business to survive and grow. Your sales strategy will be driven by your sales objectives.

Market research exists to guide your business decisions by giving you insight into your market, competitors, products, marketing and your customers.

Direct marketing can be a highly successful way to generate sales from existing and new customers. Find out how to target them in the best way.

Exhibitions and events are valuable for businesses because they allow face-to-face communication and offer opportunities for networking.

PR

Favourable media coverage can bring a range of business benefits. But how do you attract the attention of editors, broadcasters and journalists?

Checklist for customer satisfaction

Retaining existing customers is cheaper than acquiring new ones; but to get repeat business you need to have satisfied customers. So how can you measure customer satisfaction?

Even if budgets are limited, there are a number of ways you can find out just how satisfied your customers are with your products and services. These include:

  • Examining recent correspondence customers have sent to your company, including emails, letters and social media posts. Look for the frequency with which certain topics are raised and the language customers use in their correspondence. If they use a lot of emotive words then it reveals the depth of their concern with this matter. Some issues may be outside your control, but you may need to look at your communications around these topics to manage expectations.
  • If you use a call centre you should ask for statistics about the number of calls received, the topics and the frequency with which each of the topics are being raised. It is also worth finding out the average amount of time a customer spends talking with an agent, and if this varies by topic.
  • Call a random selection of customers and ask them what they think of the products and services they have bought; or follow up on a recent call they may have made to find out how happy they were with the service they received. If your business generally attracts regular repeat purchases, contact a sample of customers who have lapsed to find out why they stopped buying.
  • Check out industry resources online, including trade association websites and relevant social media groups, to see if there are any common customer themes affecting your sector as a whole.
  • Conduct your own customer surveys using your own customer satisfaction survey. You can use a professional market research agency or do your own poll. Consider not only the content of the questionnaire but also its design and structure. Don't underestimate the amount of time and effort needed to analyse the data as well as collecting it.

If you decide to get professional help, look for companies or individuals that specialise in measuring customer satisfaction and loyalty - they will be able to tell you which questions work better than others, and the best order in which to ask questions. They will also be able to provide expert interpretation of the customer data collected.

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