When running a small business with a tight budget and limited resources, promoting yourself may seem almost impossible to do. When we think about marketing or advertising, what often comes to mind is expensive TV campaigns or huge, costly billboards. As a small business owner or entrepreneur there are alternatives to consider.
Two of your biggest allies when marketing on a budget are your own customers and the web. Don’t be fooled into thinking that because you don’t have digital product or service business you shouldn’t be online. Consider the success of kitchen utensil retailer, Yuppiechef.
Kitchen utensils are not the first thing that comes to mind when you think online phenomenon. However in just six years, The Cape Town based Yuppiechef brand has become just that. Their success is due in part to their strong online presence as well as their great customer service philosophy. The owners of Yuppiechef say, ‘We’re a customer service business that just happens to sell kitchen tools.”
This is a company who have used social networking and word of mouth to full advantage. By providing stellar customer service, they have given their customers a good reason to talk about them. Leveraging this, Yuppiechef have gone on to create online spaces where their customers can share their enthusiasm with others via Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter as well as their own blog. By creating an online community of loyal fans, Yuppiechef has reported growth of 300% in 2011 and 2012 – which by any standards would be great but in economically difficult times, is frankly astounding.
Marketing Director and part-owner Paul Galatis says:
‘In today’s connected world the market is a community. Being trusted and favoured by, and engaged with this community is as important as it was in 19th century physical market places where everyone knew everyone. In these markets people bought goods from people they liked, trusted and believed were experts in their respective fields. So we choose to engage our community by creating content and activities that inspire them, connect them, educate them and humour them about all things food and all things kitchen. If we can do that successfully, then we have the good fortune that they are likely to purchase kitchen tools as a by-product of this inspiration.’
When it come to ‘spreading the word’ online, it may take a little time. It was three months before Yuppiechef sold their very first product online in 2006. However, since then they have built up an incredible momentum over time – and now they average between 100 and 500 deliveries a day. Africa is experiencing phenomenal digital growth right now. This means more of your customers are online, perhaps searching for and talking about your business. Most experts agree, the sooner you begin establishing an online presence the better
One more thing to consider when building your online community of customers – you can’t control what people say…but you can choose how you respond. Yuppiechef has one of the highest online customer satisfaction ratings on consumer complaints website, HelloPeter. Largely because most of their customers have nothing but rave reviews but more importantly, when things go wrong, this company listens and does whatever it can to rectify the problem. Ignore unhappy customers at your peril, an honest and timely response can go a long way.
Companies like Yuppiechef have enjoyed success with social media promotion, you could too. With a little time, effort and engagement you could soon have your own flourishing community of happy customers.
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