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A marketing strategy will help you identify your best customers, understand their needs and implement the most effective marketing methods.

The internet has transformed business marketing. No matter what you do, the internet is likely to be at the heart of your marketing strategy.

Social media is firmly established as a marketing tool. Having a presence opens up new lines of communication with existing and potential customers.

Good advertising puts the right marketing message in front of the right people at the right time, raising awareness of your business.

Customer care is at the heart of all successful companies. It can help you develop customer loyalty and improve relationships with your customers.

Sales bring in the money that enables your business to survive and grow. Your sales strategy will be driven by your sales objectives.

Market research exists to guide your business decisions by giving you insight into your market, competitors, products, marketing and your customers.

Direct marketing can be a highly successful way to generate sales from existing and new customers. Find out how to target them in the best way.

Exhibitions and events are valuable for businesses because they allow face-to-face communication and offer opportunities for networking.

PR

Favourable media coverage can bring a range of business benefits. But how do you attract the attention of editors, broadcasters and journalists?

Ten ways to get the most out of customer testimonials

Simply claiming to be "the best" is not enough to convince people to try your products or services. Testimonials offer an independent indication that you have done a good job and can help reassure new or nervous buyers, as well as distinguishing you from your competitors. Here are ten easy steps to generate customer testimonials

  1. Ask your customers for feedback. Be organised and send out a standard email after a purchase to generate a steady stream of feedback. Alternatively, approach key clients personally, explaining that you'd appreciate their comments.
  2. Consider which type of testimonial best suits your business. You could use simple client quotes, reviews of your products or even create videos of customers praising your services and share them on social media.
  3. Make sure the testimonials are relevant to your target audience and likely to be persuasive; ensure they focus on the product features and aspects of your service that are likely to have the greatest appeal.
  4. Keep quotes short, snappy and easy to read - and for authenticity, always try to include a full name, company and job title.
  5. Be creative with your material. Consider inserting a page of satisfied client feedback in sales packs or share testimonials in a blog. You could even use a buyer’s comment in an advert or put a positive quote on the back of your business card.
  6. Arrange testimonials according to category so you can address specific concerns that your customers may have. Comments that highlight your credibility as a supplier or provide feedback about swiftness of delivery, for instance, could be used on your order page.
  7. Don’t just think in terms of individual names. Can you add the names or logos of respected companies that use or buy your services? If you can showcase an impressive client list, do so.
  8. Keep testimonials fresh by regularly updating them.
  9. Include a link to clients' websites alongside their comments. Listing reciprocal links and connecting on social networks also allows potential buyers to see who you do business with.
  10. Get the customer’s permission first before using their remarks and make sure they are happy about their comments being made public.

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