If you’re determined to make it as a small business owner, you have to be smart about where – and how – you market your business and on which marketing strategies you spend your money.
Now, more than ever, in this economy you have to focus your marketing efforts so that you reap the most benefit from your dollars. Take these ten steps into consideration if you’re trying to make your business recession-proof:
- Stand out from the competition – What does your competition offer? How do your services differ from theirs? What can you offer your clients in the way of additional goods or services or other benefits that they can’t get from the competition? Do you offer free, overnight delivery? Guarantees on your work? Make sure your customers know what you offer.
- Build relationships — Create a customer database and contact your customers on a regular basis. Keep them in mind at times other than when you have a sale running. Send them a birthday card, anniversary card (on the date they made a purchase from you, as an example). For each month you don’t have contact with your customer, you lose 10% of their loyalty.
- Audit your time and think big– Regardless of the size of your business (you and your single line telephone) act like you’re bigger than you are. It’s not the size of the staff you employ, but the amount of customer service you offer. Conversely, if you’re spending an inordinate amount of time on routine office tasks, you’re missing the opportunity to market to your client base.
- First impressions count — Make certain your employees are positive and upbeat every time they call or visit your office. When you hire staff spend time making certain the people you employ will put their best foot forward and be committed to your success (if you succeed, chances are they will as well).
- Make your expectations known – Do your employees know what you expect of them when they are with a customer? If you own a retail outlet, do your employees merely point out the direction of an item a customer is seeking or do they walk them to the specific section of the store? Do they greet each customer with a smile and a hello?
- Always collect email addresses –– In today’s era of instant communication, you might find your customers would be more apt to open an email newsletter than they would be to take a trip to the mail box and read a flyer. Email is an inexpensive way to keep in touch with your clients but make it worth their while; offer them a valuable tip in every email, offer a coupon, or a discount the next time they stop in.
- Make your website work for you — We are assuming your business has a website; if you don’t you could be missing the boat because chances are, your competition does have a website. If you do have a site, make certain you have a shopping cart on it. Online sales are on the upswing as people want to avoid crowds, save time, and give into impulse purchases. Make certain yours is the business they come to to satisfy those wants.
- Spread the word – Cultivate relationships with the local media. Send out press releases. When you’re contacting the media, make certain you have something of interest to impart – a company anniversary, an employee who is coming back to work after having served abroad.
- The power of advertising – Because of the price of newspaper or print advertising, many business owners are trimming their budgets for these outlet, so why not consider offering pay per click advertising on your website. Advertisers can bid on keywords on your site and the more popular the word or phrase, the more expensive each click is. Pay per click helps ensure that your site receives top of the page visibility with search engines and this, in turn, will drive potential customers to your site.
- Be trendy – Is there a trend in your industry on which you can capitalize? Do you offer a unique service or product that lends itself to trends or seasonal marketing?
Bottom line, track your marketing efforts so you know if what you’re doing is working and if you find it’s not, then change your aim and try again.