Little Things that Make a BIG Difference

When it comes to running a successful business, we often focus on the big things: beautiful designs, quality fixtures, friendly and prompt customer service, etc. However, as important as those things are, there are also small things you can do to help your business thrive. Consider implementing these 5 little ideas, and see the big difference they can make in your business!

Develop a Marketing Strategy

Websites, magazines, direct mail, social media, AdWords… trying to decide when and where to advertise can be overwhelming! And, let’s face it, if you said yes to every marketing agency that called you, you wouldn’t have any money left. Be smart and develop a marketing plan. Figure out when you want to advertise and how much you want to spend, then stick to it. Consistency is key! If you’re only marketing when things are slow and stop marketing when it gets busy, your sales cycle will experience the roller coaster effect. Start marketing today and you’ll bring in those sales you need months down the road.  

Answer the Phone

Think about how much you spend just to get a single call to your business. With that in mind, it’s critical that you have someone there to answer the phone when it rings. You can have the best marketing plan in the world, but if you’re not able to handle answering the phones, you may be throwing away thousands of dollars every year. Consider hiring a receptionist or using a third-party answering service. It will be well worth the investment.

Follow Up

Never underestimate the importance of good communication. Follow up with your clients after your crew has completed their installation or service call. This can take a while, but every time you put yourself or your company in front of your client, it only strengthens that relationship. And following up with every sales call is a must! If you typically give a bid and wait for that potential client to call you back, chances are you are losing sales. Follow up as many times as it takes until they give you a firm yes or no.

Show Your Appreciation

After your work is completed and everything is done, go the extra mile and show your customer how much you appreciate their support. Consider sending gourmet chocolates, Edible Arrangements, a bottle of wine, or some other gift, thanking them for their business. These inexpensive gestures can go a long way.

Ask for Feedback

These days it seems like every receipt has a survey on the bottom. Customer feedback is a great way to help you improve your business, and reviews promote your business and build better leads. You can even use a third party company like Reputation Loop to generate online reviews, fast. The concept is simple: After you complete an installation, your customers receive a quick, easy survey. They respond to questions about their experience with your product/service and, if it’s positive, they’re asked to post a review online. So many customers check reviews before deciding which product or service they’ll go with, so don’t overlook the importance of good reviews!

You Need a Marketing Plan

This article appeared in the sixth issue of our newsletter. If you’d like to read more articles like this, visit our newsletter page and sign up to receive our free newsletter in the mail! 

Very few businesses can succeed (and remain successful) on word of mouth alone, which is why marketing is so important. For small businesses, it is especially important to use your marketing to raise brand awareness and to help you compete against other companies offering similar services. Marketing is essential to growing your business. But where do you begin?

While marketing may seem like a huge—and expensive—task, once you have a plan in place, it becomes much more manageable. A marketing plan is the key to marketing success, and it all starts with establishing a budget.  

The key to marketing success is making a plan and sticking with it!

If you want to see growth in your business, you should plan on budgeting at least 10% of your annual sales on marketing. Some businesses will set aside up to 20% of the annual sales for marketing, but 10% is a good amount when you’re just getting started. Once you have a budget in place, you can start setting goals and dates.

In marketing, timing is everything. Early spring is very effective because homeowners make purchasing decisions based on their income flow and cash availability. In the early spring, many homeowners will be getting tax returns back, which frees them up to spend a little extra on things like outdoor lighting.

Deciding what types of marketing you want to pursue is also important. Although we now live in an age of technology, direct mail is still one of the most effective tools for B2C marketing. According to the Data and Marketing Association, from 2015 to 2016, direct mail customer response rates increased by 43% and customer response rates increased 190%.

Because we’ve seen for ourselves how effective direct mail marketing is, we created Sterling Storefront to help you launch your own direct mail campaign, providing you all the resources you need to get started, including a library of high-quality, professional photos.

Incorporating social media into your marketing is another way to reach thousands of potential customers simply and effectively. One of the reasons social media is such a popular way to market is the ease in which you can interact directly with your customers and target potential new clients.

Video is another effective tool to use on your social media platforms, emails, and website. In a survey of consumers by Animoto, 56% of those surveyed said that if a company has a website, it should have a video. And, in fact, if a company did not have a video, a quarter of those surveyed said they lost interest. Visual content, especially video, should not be overlooked when considering how best to market your services to your customers.

Finally, and this may be the most important thing yet, stick with it. I’ve seen so many lighting professionals start marketing their company and then drop it when they get busy. If you want to see your marketing pay off, don’t stop just because other things pull your attention away. Marketing is too important for you to put it off or quit.

Jim Heim – General Manager

Introducing Sterling Storefront!

For many small business owners, it’s difficult to find the time (and money) to work on marketing. That’s why we created Sterling Storefront. Sterling Storefront is an online marketing tool Sterling Lighting customers can utilize to create high-quality, customizable marketing material for their businesses at an affordable price.

The Storefront Advantage

Storefront has many advantages over traditional marketing alternatives. It’s affordable because it’s an automated print site. That means you don’t have to pay for design or prepress charges. Since you’re designing your mailers yourself (with help from Storefront’s templates), the only things you have to pay for are printing and mailing costs. There are absolutely zero overhead fees!

We designed Storefront to be simple. The learning curve is small because we understand your schedule is busy, and you don’t have hours upon hours to devote to marketing. From the layout to the templates to the instructional videos, Storefront was built with you in mind.    

Finally, Storefront is versatile. Whether you’re looking for business cards or mailers, Sterling Storefront has you covered. You can design your products using our library of photos or you can upload your own. The choice is yours.

Sterling Storefront’s Layout

Sterling Storefront’s layout is simple. It is broken up into four categories: Business, Targeted Marketing, EDDM, and Product Brochures.

In the Business section, you can create personalized business cards, letterheads, presentation folders, and more.

The Targeted Marketing section is where you can customize postcards and mailers, enter in the zip codes and home-values you’d like to target, and then have your marketing material mailed right to your potential customers’ doors.

The EDDM section stands for Every Door Direct Marketing. This section lets you stay in complete control by offering you the ability to create marketing material and send it off yourself to specific addresses.

Finally, our Product Brochure section is where we have created specification sheets for our four main fixtures: the SL01 Up Light, the SL02 In Line Light, the SL04 Mini Flood Light, and the SL07 Path Light. These spec. sheets can be customized with your business’ information and placed in presentation folders to give to your customers.   

At Sterling Lighting, we love helping our customers grow their businesses, so we hope you take full advantage of this new service! We’ve already heard some great success stories!  

If you would like to learn more or to create an account, please email or call 800-939-1849. We would love to help you get started!