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The Internet: How one small business makes it work

What about the Internet? It’s on the tip of everyone’s tongue and one of the most-asked questions at our marketing workshops. Everyday we hear about some exciting new technology associated with the Internet and wonder, is this THE marketing tool that will help generate more customers for my business?

Today the buzz is about Twitter, (which has been around since 2006.) According to their website, Twitter is…”a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?” You get 140 characters to respond.

The Internet offers endless opportunities to get and stay connected; from permission based social and professional networks, blogs, RSS feeds, webinars, podcasts, steaming videos and hundreds of other tools and services. While many of these Internet activities can be effectively used by some business, they may not be for everyone.

If a significant percentage of your business is generated through your website, we recommend you hire a firm or individual that specializes in websites and Internet based marketing. These experts can help you sort through the more complex details; design, content management, site optimization, B2B services, shopping carts, etc., and save you time and headaches. There are several excellent specialists and firms located right here in Kitsap County ready to help you find the right Internet solutions for your business.

For most small businesses, though, Internet based marketing represents a small portion of their business development strategy. Following is an example of how one local business used her sales and customer data to choose Internet tools that are helping her grow her brand and her business.

Small Business Profile: Internet Success Story

We have been working with Rejuv Spa & Massage in Manette and owner Julie Poston since the idea of owning her own spa was a twinkle in her eye. After five years of hard work, Julie is now the proud owner of a successful and respected business that keeps nine team members busy seven days a week.

So what’s Julie’s secret to thriving in a tight economy? Easy. Superior customer service, a well-developed database, and weekly sales reports.

Like Nordstrom, Julie’s number one priority is to take care of her current customers; she knows who they are, what they like, and how to reach them. Another priority for Julie is working with Rejuv’s dedicated team to review customer feedback and ensure consistent delivery of services. Online and offline, business basics still come first.
Julie’s current marketing plan includes a mix of traditional and new media strategies allocated by percentage of sales. One of her key customer segments are professionals who are heavy and happy users of the ‘net. Based on this data, Julie decided to sign-up with Constant Contact, the popular permission-based email service and use it to stay connect with her customers and notify them about monthly specials. For very little money, Julie can quickly distribute professional looking e-flyers to hundreds of customers (which they can then forward to friends). The e-flyer provides directs links to Rejuv’s website and email.

Comments by customers indicated many were active users of the popular social network, Facebook. Since Julie and her team were familiar with Facebook, they set-up an account for Rejuv with access for ‘fans’. Within days, other Facebook members were enthusiastically spreading the word about Rejuv with co-workers, family, and friends. Julie spends a couple hours a week monitoring the account to view comments and respond to inquires. For very little money, Facebook is now generating online buzz about Rejuv and helping to attract awareness and new customers.

Julie also uses the Internet to host a simple, easy to update website that provides information about services, downloadable brochures, allows visitors to make on-line appointments and buy gift certificates via a secure shopping cart service. Other strategies include several customer loyalty programs, direct sales, involvement in local community events, print media, distribution of sales materials, and business networking.

I asked Julie what is her single most effective marketing strategy? “Making sure every client has a great experience and taking the time thank them for their business. It’s what keeps them coming back and generates the most referrals,” she said. Amen.

Thanks to Julie for sharing her business story and being a dedicated small business owner in Kitsap County. It’s small businesses like Rejuv that keep our economy working.

Next time: Small business succeeding without using Internet marketing!

(Editor’s Note: Patricia Graf-Hoke is a professional communication/marketing consultant, speaker and instructor. She may be reached at pgh [at] grafhoke [dot] com.)

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