Even though you may not have a Superbowl sized marketing budget, it's time to strategize for 2018! A marketing budget typically covers costs for advertising, promotion and public relations. The size of the business can usually help determine how much of its annual sales it spends on marketing. It also depends on the amount of money the competition is spending advertising. Depending on the industry, marketing budgets can range from as low as 1% of sales to over 30%. New companies may spend as much as 50% of sales for introductory marketing programs in the first year. Smaller business may just try to match the spending of their direct competitors.
In an age of instantaneous communications, a phone and on hold message program are still important tools for your business.
First impressions count. Business phone etiquette can make or break a small business. Since phone calls and on hold messages are often the first impression of a business, a good experience on the phone can make a loyal customer for life.
Don’t underestimate the value of individual human interaction to customers’ perception of your business. When a customer truly needs help right away, they don’t want to deal with extensive phone menus or online chat robots…they just want real help from a real person.
A friendly voice answering the phone, followed by an equally pleasant on hold message, if a caller is put on hold, serves as a virtual “front door” to your business. Professional phone service and custom on hold messages make small companies sound big and bigger companies sound more personable.
According to recent research, sponsored by the American Teleservices Association, 41% of American consumers yearly initiate a purchase over the phone.
On hold statistics also tell a positive story. Nationwide Insurance found that when it played promotional messages, callers stayed on the line 130% longer. Pilkington AGR reported that sales of their non-glass products increased 100% 30 days after they implemented a national On Hold Messaging program from BusinessVoice. SP/Barron Propane experienced a 1,100% return on investment from their BusinessVoice On Hold Messaging program within 12 months. During the same period their expenditures for newspaper advertising returned no traceable results.
Believe it or not, the phone still handles 68% of business customer communications. Even though it might seem outdated to some newer companies who may want to focus on communication channels like email, live chat and social media, the phone shouldn’t be forgotten. Today, social media channels handle just 3% of customer queries. Small businesses should take particular heed to this as anything that helps them improve their customer service gives them an advantage over other businesses.
Whether customers are calling with complaints or basic questions, they expect to be able to reach you immediately —or, at the very least, have their voicemail returned promptly. Features such as call waiting, call return, and call forwarding help you receive and return important calls as quickly as possible.
If a customer is unhappy, phone interactions often provide you with a better shot at turning the situation to your favor than those online—which can be easy to misread without vocal cues. “Often times an unhappy customer actually cares more about just feeling like they’ve been understood,” writes Soldsie marketer Josh Brown in “5 Ways to Turn Your Unhappy Customer into a Valuable Resource.”
A friendly voice on the other end a phone call or on hold experience humanizes your business. It reminds customers that you and your staff are people, too—and that you’re there to help them with whatever needs they might have.
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