One of the most successful programs we’ve put in place as franchisees is a Marketing Action plan. Simply put, this plan plays to the strengths of the franchisee. I was never one for going door-to-door to find new customers, so I found a few specific actions I could do well to get new people in the door. If we got a business card, we’d turn it into a luggage tag and send it back to the client. We found that 73 percent of these people actually used the luggage tag, and many became customers. I also recommend joining a networking group or a BNI group. Becoming a business leader in your community is an easy way to make lasting connections with influential people. You never know when that can turn into a mutually beneficial relationship. Consider too, looking into something like pay-per-click advertising. This is a great way to reach people you don’t already know who can become new customers. What you do isn’t as important as the fact that you do something consistently and well. To reach existing customers for repeat business, we’ve always strongly believed in sending thank-you notes. If you spend more than $100 in our store, you get a personalized thank-you card. Nearly 85 percent of our business comes from repeat or referred customers. We send out weekly emails to more than 1,400 customers. The messages are product-based, include news from the shop and feature a customer to tell their story and ask for ideas to grow. Most importantly, remember to tell (and show) customers what you can do, not what you can’t. Marketing is not a verb. With a few specific actions you can do well and measure, you can be successful. Big corporations market based on money, but small businesses market with the time, energy and passion of the owner. Every business has something that makes it unique — the thing that it does better, faster or cheaper than the competition. This uniqueness and your guarantee need to be the core of the message that you deliver to your customers. Put yourself in the mindset of your customer. This will allow you to speak to their fears, wants, needs, expectations and delights. Describe your business in the terms that are most familiar to the people who buy from you. This will lead to more business for you.