One of the greatest benefits about small businesses is their ability to build personal relationships with customers and clients. That’s partly what inspired Jake Nonnemaker to start Axicom 15 years ago: He wanted to show other small businesses how they could leverage technology to grow, increase efficiency, and streamline business. Today, the business — which has grown to include five employees plus two outside contractors — is still committed to the mission of providing “reliable, fast, consistent, and honest tech support” to other small businesses, the majority of which have between five and 80 employees.
In celebration of National Small Business Week, we caught up with Christa Nonnemaker, who heads up Axicom’s marketing department, to learn about what methods the business uses to continue building relationships with customers.
As a small business, what advantage do you have over your larger competitors?
We have qualified, knowledgeable, professional, mature, reliable, and courteous employees who care about our company and our company reputation; flexibility in service and product offerings; quick response time; a live person answering phones and immediate email response; lower prices quite often; a level of interest in educating our clients; and roots in the community — we’re supportive of local causes, community events, etc.
You’ve found great success with email marketing. [Axicom is a 2010 recipient of Constant Contact's All Star awards.] Why did you decide to use this marketing tactic, and how do you go about generating content that will engage your subscribers?
From reading marketing books and listening to other marketers, it became apparent to me that consistent marketing was a key part of successful marketing. I felt that monthly emails would be a feasible way to start. For generating content, I review our “ticket” logs to see what kinds of issues our clients have been facing recently and I also read magazines, blogs, and other technical newsletters, and I talk to our employees.
You have an impressive mailing list. What methods do you use to continue building it?
We started building our list over two years ago by taking our current client and prospect lists and then adding to them and creating others. We’ve used website forms, in-person events and meetings, seminars and webinars to gather email addresses.
What happens after you send your monthly newsletter? What kinds of results do you see?
I have noticed a measurable increase in visits to our website after we send out our newsletter. We often get more phone calls after an email has gone out as well. We also get comments from clients and colleagues along the lines of “I love getting your information!” or “You do a good job with your marketing!” And, we know that Constant Contact has played a significant role for us in receiving this positive feedback.
Webinars and educational classes are important to Axicom. Who attends them, and what is the value to your business?
In terms of webinars and seminars, we have a variety of attendees. Most are business owners, but some are employees, depending on the topic. For example, our “Intermediate Excel” webinar attracted a wide range of people, whereas our seminar “Beyond Paperless: Working Simply in a 24×7 World” attracted mostly business owners. One of our goals is to provide educational value to our customers, so these events are critical to achieving our company mission.
How do you use social media channels like Facebook and Twitter?
In terms of Facebook and Twitter, we post regularly on both these platforms. We’re reaching out to customers, prospects, and colleagues.