Sometimes barriers are misidentified because business leaders dwell on the effects rather than looking for the primary causes. Identifying the root problem that needs to be addressed is the gateway to determining the steps that can be taken to solving it. For instance, a business having financial difficulties may simply cite “lack of sales” as their main barrier, but the underlying problem is actually poor lead to sale conversion rates or an insufficient number of leads in the pipeline to begin with or low average ticket value when leads do purchase. Much like setting goals before doing strategic planning, knowing what you actually need to fix is key in being able to remedy it properly in a way that will be lasting.
Common Types of Problems
- Slow load time
- Page load errors
- Low quality images
- Broken links
- Weak calls-to-action
- Confusing layout
- Low overall traffic
- High bounce rate
- Ineffective traffic flow
- Lack of organizational support
- Ineffective incentives
- Poor conversion rates
- High return rates
- Customer complaints
- Limited lifetime value of customers
- Lack of positive customer reviews
- Long wait times
- Unanswered emails
- Slow issue resolution
- Minimal foot traffic
- Poor brand image
- Canceled appointments
So how can you get creative to solve your business problems? I’ll give you a great example! Last winter the hair salon where I get my hair cut came up with a creative solution to solve a major business problem that they were having…
In any service industry getting clients to book regular appointments is key to keeping business steady from month-to-month. This is why businesses offer discounts for people that purchase year-long service contracts instead of one-off services. This is also why service providers will urge you to book your next appointment at the conclusion of your service – they know that you’re less likely to cancel after you’re booked than you are to forget booking one in the first place.
So over the winter my hair salon was having issues because many of their regular clients were hesitant to book appointments around the holidays because they weren’t sure what their schedules would look like as the holidays brought on a barrage of parties, social obligations, and travel plans. They also knew that their front desk was short-staffed and wouldn’t be able to handle a ton of last minute calls with clients trying to book appointments. Having to turn these regulars away would have created a poor customer experience and also jeopardized the potential life-time value of each of these customers, which is a big deal in the salon business.
Now, they could have hired some additional staff to get them through the holidays, but finding and training them would have been expensive so the better option was to tackle this problem from the customer-side. They needed to do something to incentivize people to book their appointments in advance. So how did they get creative? In late October they assembled a lovely basket of swanky haircare products and announced that they would be raffling it off in January. Any client that booked their next four appointments for any service would be entered into the raffle. The content of the basket were supposedly valued at $300, which was enough to make most people take them up on their offer. I don’t know what those products cost them exactly, but let’s assume it was probably around $150. For $150 they got hundreds of ladies to make appointments for at least 4 months of salon and spa services, which, reduced the stress on the front desk staff and equated to a predictable revenue stream from November to February!
After implementing any business solution, it’s always important to look at the data and get feedback from your employees. Then you can gauge the effectiveness of your efforts and tweak them moving forward. Sometimes you’ll come up with one solution that will cause another barrier to pop up, which is why testing is so important.
Kate Pierce is the owner of LionShark Digital Marketing LLC, a West Michigan internet marketing company. Her areas of expertise include Paid Search, Search Engine Optimization, Social Media, Web Consulting for small businesses, Copywriting and Local Online Marketing. She lives in the Grand Rapids area with her husband and enjoys cooking, watching sports and spending time outdoors. Like a true digital marketing expert (i.e. geek), she loves talking about marketing theory and SEM trends… so don’t say you weren’t warned!