Beyond Grassroots and Word-of-mouth Sales & Marketing Strategy

Roberta LewissmartPRENEUR Blog Series

Most small business owners start building their businesses with word-of-mouth referrals. As they immediately step on the monthly sales treadmill, they are constantly working to exceed the previous month’s sales or previous year’s comp numbers, quickly recognizing that there is little time for planning.  While the ongoing, all-consuming process of managing what I deem “business already sold” to completion, open bids and new proposals, and daily admin tasks, – more than consumes the hours in a day. Working more hours isn’t the solution, working better is. 

As a business owner and leader, I learned that it was mission critical for me to “work-forward each day” on the initiatives for future business period, – and let my staff manage, control, and be responsible for yesterday’s business. 

 It is so easy to spend ALL our time as leaders trying to manage and take care of everything – every day, all job problems, and people’s problems.  If you are large enough to employ support staff, project managers, project leads, and office/accounting/purchasing management -–then delegate all your daily process tasks to the team in place.  Just try letting go, even if it is in baby steps. 

It takes dedication and time to work on future business.  Future business is a big pie.  A short outtake of the small business marketing pie would include, but not be limited to, a few items as:  

  • Creating opportunities to present and sell new products and solutions to those past clients you have completed jobs and worked with. Create a monthly client newsletter.  Add consumer tech information, stories, sharing topics that homeowners might be interested in.  You can use programs such as MailChimp to maintain your lists, mailings, and track the opens and effectiveness.  Don’t mail more than once monthly.  Takeaway: Keep in constant communication with past clients, while keeping them abreast of new technologies and solutions to make their home life easier and better. 
  • Joining and actively participating with high-end residential ASID interior designers.  This would include budgeting an allowance to support their endeavors, ASID Gala, ASID annual garage sales and other events.  My relations with a former president of the Houston chapter ASID remains as a strong friendship today.  We had lunch together a month ago (we have not worked together for 20 years).  I cannot tell you how much business came to our company from her door alone, and other top Houston designers, and ASID.  You can host CEU-accredited ASID/AIA courses, like lighting, outdoor music, entertainment – provide lunch, or cocktails, etc. (ASID, AIA, Landscaping Businesses, and others). Takeaway: Create personal relationships with the top residential designers and associations. 
  • Network with similar businesses. Research and locate local high-end furniture, furnishing and interiors retail establishments. Go visit the main office location. Learn about their business, learn the ownership, and meet with them.  Stop in monthly to say hello, show some hospitality.  When I was a specialty retailer, I worked with several – Roche Bobois, Noel Furniture, and others.  We loaned them gear for their showrooms (as Bang & Olufsen for example). Takeaway: Create a personal relationship with similar local business owners.  
  • Social Media Marketing – YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, etc.  Create social media marketing materials to boost posts in your local area routinely (weekly), targeting the affluent consumers.  Your business social media page content is important.  Spend time and money (photography, content) to make your pages outshine and outperform larger competitors.  Create a worksheet and track your campaigns performance and adjust accordingly. Use easy and affordable content creation with Apps as Canva, and others.  Takeaway: Get out there and engage with Social Media!  

Overall Takeaway:  Creating, building, and maintaining integral marketing relationships in your marketplace.  Yes, it takes effort, time, and a lot of work to build and maintain.  You could just find one or more incredible new friends in the process. 

About the Author

Roberta Lewis

Roberta Lewis is an industry veteran with over four decades of successful consumer electronics retailing, internet marketing, and manufacturing experience. Roberta Lewis and Associates was founded in 2005 to support the broad range of consumer electronics businesses including manufacturers, retailers, custom installation businesses, and group associations with marketing, advertising, public and consumer relations, product/brand awareness, and strategic sales management.