June 03, 2016
As a small business owner, investing days or weeks into crafting a marketing strategy is out of the picture.
What you really want to focus on is your product or service, the thing you're really passionate about. You're still getting a sense of who your target audience is and can't afford to spend money on channels that might not get you any new clients.
Why not turn work you'll already be doing into your most effective marketing tool?
The trick is to look where most people don't: your invoicing. 60% of marketers already consider personalizing the customer's experience to be their top marketing objective and it's projected that by 2020 customer experience will beat out both price and product as the key brand differentiator.
Invoicing remains one of the easiest and most powerful ways to do that. It is sometimes looked as a simple task that needs to get done efficiently, but using it as something other than a black and white copy listing services owed can be more effective to your business.
It's non-invasive. Your customers are already flooded with emails and newsletters from companies seeking their business. What you need is a way to keep your message from getting lost in an unopened email. In fact, most email campaigns are ignored over 90% of the time.
In contrast, the least successful invoicing efforts are ignored a much smaller 13% of the time. An invoice effectively puts your communication into stealth mode. It's something your client is both expecting and sure to open up immediately. What better place to hide your message?
Invoicing is inherently a part of your brand. Every communication with your customers is a representation of your company. Saying nothing with your invoice misses a key opportunity to remind your clients what your company stands for.
Instead, reinforce your brand values in potentially the last time you'll be interacting with your client that cycle. Final impressions matter: 89% of customers see customer-friendly billing as a key component of their customer satisfaction.
A simple thank you goes a long way. Show your customer how much you appreciate them with a short, personalized note. Acknowledging how much their business means to you nurtures a relationship and builds loyalty. Make sure your note reflects your overall brand messaging. If your company prides itself on being personal and caring, don't send a canned, cold note.
Ask them for a referral or a testimony. When filling out an invoice, your client is remembering how well your product worked for them and evaluating their experience. Capitalize on that by asking them to share what they thought. Be careful to not be overly aggressive with your request.
Announce new services or products. If you want your client to return to you, demonstrating that their experience will be even better the next time is a strong selling point. The more personalized this is, the stronger. If you're adding a service that would matter to them, emphasize it! If you're improving upon a negative experience they had, letting them know can go a long way. Here, you can show them that you care about their experience, even after they've paid you.
Offer a discount code only available through the invoice. Your clients don't like that your product costs them money and they especially won't be loving it when looking at the bill. Providing a unique discount code is a great way of incentivizing them to come back and demonstrating you value their loyalty.
Take advantage of invoicing software. Utilizing e-invoicing creates new possibilities for marketing your company. If you want a more detailed message, you can put a link that takes your customer to a page with exactly what you want to say. Doing so also lets you track how successful your efforts are. If you're operating B2B, look for invoicing software that lets you connect with other businesses that use the same software. Companies that still rely on paper invoicing are rapidly becoming the minority, with 75% of businesses expanding their e-invoicing presentment and payment last year.
Keep it simple and subtle. Your customers aren't expecting a full page advertisement. Opening up a bill and seeing an essay can be jarring. This is first and foremost an invoice, so don't let your marketing efforts take over the document.
Don't repeat yourself. For your consistent customers, seeing the same message on every invoice can become stale and feel impersonal. Change up your messages and don't try the same tactic with every invoice. They are more likely to notice and respond to something new or different.
You don't need an enormous advertising budget to effectively manage your client relations. Each interaction with your client presents an opportunity for promoting your own company. The invoice has been a staple of business operations for firms dating back to 3,300 BC. It's time to realize its potential as the best new marketing opportunity.