Do you feel like you’re treading water with your small business and not making progress towards your goals?
Or are you having trouble choosing business goals to work toward this year in the first place? Every entrepreneur wants to own a successful and profitable business, but it’s not always clear how to get there.
If you want your small business to be more profitable than ever before, here are some suggestions for how to make it happen. And remember: Building a successful business is a marathon, not a sprint.
Are you starting a business on a shoestring or need ways to stretch your small business marketing budget? Marketing a business doesn’t have to cost a lot. Here are low-cost, high-impact methods to advertise and promote your business.
How can you promote your business when money is tight, or you’re just starting up? How can you advertise your business and get your name in front of potential prospects on a limited budget? How can you market your business most cost-effectively?
Promoting a business is an ongoing challenge for small businesses. Whether you’re just starting or have been in business for years, these proven advertising and marketing tactics will help your business find new customers without spending a fortune.
According to a study by NewVoiceMedia, 51% of customers will not repeat business with a company after a bad service experience. Other studies have shown that it takes several positive customer experiences to make up for one negative one.
Given that loyal customers make a much easier sell, make good customer service a priority. Examine your current customer service and make the changes that need to be made to ensure that your small business is providing service superior to that of your competitors. You may need to invest in staff training, revamping your return policy, or make basic improvements such as responding promptly to voicemails or emails from customers.
Whether you operate your business in a small community or a large urban centre, word of mouth is more important than ever. Most consumers turn to the net to search for reviews of businesses before deciding where to shop, so building a good reputation is vital to the success of your business.
How do you get positive word of mouth? By providing good, professional service, building and monitoring your local (and online) reputation, and gaining publicity by giving back to your community through your support and sponsorship of local organisations and charities.
Effective marketing is key to increasing your sales, but you don’t have to break the bank to promote your business. There are many inexpensive ways to market your products and services, including:
Creating a professional-looking website can be quick and easy nowadays, and your small business needs to be in the online space. Research from the E-commerce Wiki indicates that 88% of consumers now research purchases online before purchasing in a store.
A simple website that describes who you are, what you do, and how to contact you will suffice for many small businesses. At a minimum, your site should contain:
Depending on your target market, social media can be a great way to promote your business as well. Establishing a presence on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram is standard for most businesses these days.
Business costs for everything from office space to vehicle expenses seem to always be on the rise, so keeping expenses in check is a crucial task for business owners.
Keeping track of expenses is time-consuming and tedious, so wherever possible, try using new technology to make the job as easy as possible. For example, there are a number of mobile apps for expense tracking, including many cloud-based accounting applications that allow you to automatically add expense information into your accounting system by snapping pictures of receipts with your mobile device.
Conduct annual or even semi-annual reviews of your major expenses, such as office space, business insurance, staffing, and vehicle expenses. Where can you trim? If you are in an area with an abundance of available commercial space, perhaps you could think about relocating. If you don’t even need a storefront, you could convert to a home-based business.
Review your major supply costs regularly and always look for discounts or ways to pool supply purchases with other businesses to save money. Make reducing expenses part of your job description and company culture.
If you do nothing else with mobile technology this year, you need to make sure that your online presence, including your business website, is mobile friendly. Increasing numbers of people are surfing and searching with their phones—even when they’re at home.
But two other trends could benefit your small business. The first is mobile marketing. There are myriad mobile-specific strategies you could be using to reach your target market with great effect, from text message advertising and mobile display ads to having your business app designed.
Mobile payment systems represent your other opportunity. Apple Pay, Google Wallet, Venmo, Square, Intuit GoPayment, Paypal—the choices for paying by phone are now endless. Offering pay-by-phone services is a significant convenience to customers, but your small business could also realise considerable savings from being able to use a mobile POS system.
There is no doubt that cloud computing has levelled the playing field for startup businesses. Still, the serious advantages of using the cloud for “ordinary” established businesses are not always discussed.
Cost savings and access from anywhere are the biggest advantages to moving some of your business processes to the cloud. If, for instance, your business changes from a desktop small-business accounting program to a cloud-based accounting application, you would no longer have to install desktop software (saving IT costs for installation, backups, updates, etc.) and you can access your business accounts from anywhere, including from mobile devices.
There are some disadvantages to cloud computing, of course, but if you haven’t started using cloud storage and applications yet, make this the year that you at least investigate its potential.
Attracting and retaining the right employees is one of the most important things you can do with your business. While hiring and training employees every other week might be business as usual for a fast-food restaurant, most successful businesses rely on hiring quality staff and keeping them for the long term.
You did make a business plan before starting your business. A business plan is vital for startup businesses for many reasons, including testing the viability of your business idea and securing debt or equity financing.
If you haven’t made one, it’s not too late. Successful, established businesses update their business plan annually to review accomplishments (or lack thereof) and decide on new goals or directions.
The financial health of your business is summarised by the income statement, the cash flow projection, and the balance sheet, which are contained in the financial section of the business plan. From there, you can determine ways to make your business more profitable by increasing sales, reducing losses, or cutting expenses. If you want your business to be more successful, you need a plan for how to get there.
No one goes to the grave wishing they had spent more time in the office. Too many business owners sacrifice their mental and physical health, family relationships, and friends in pursuit of their business goals.
Don’t be one of them—find an acceptable level of work-life balance. Getting enough sleep, taking time for family and friends, and getting regular exercise will help you stay healthy and allow you and your business to prosper over the long term.
Generating new business by growing your customer base is important to your business success. However, it can sometimes be very challenging.
Here are some practical tips to help you grow your customer base.
Understand your customer’s needs and develop products and services that meet those needs. You can gain insight into your customers by personalising your services and encouraging them to provide you with feedback.
Ensure your customer service is exceptional and go the extra mile when you can. Your customers will not only remember great service; they will also be more likely to refer other people to you.
Have strategies in place to nurture existing customers, such as staying in contact with them via an e-newsletter or letting them know about promotional events ahead of time.
At the same time, look for opportunities to get more work and build your customer base. Make sure you find the right balance between nurturing customers and finding new ones.
If you own or operate an Aboriginal business, you can also promote your business by taking advantage of a free listing on the Aboriginal Business Directory Western Australia (ABDWA). An increasing number of State Government and private organisations are looking to work with Aboriginal businesses and use the directory to search for relevant suppliers.
Social media is a powerful tool to promote your business to potential customers and gain valuable insight through ‘social listening’. Through social listening, you can find out what customers are saying about you, gain insight into their behaviour, identify keywords and trends that appeal to your target market and so improve your customer service. Social media can help you to build your business profile and attract new customers.
Invest time to build your networks – it’s not what you know but who you know.
Networking allows you to build relationships with other people and encourage them to refer customers to you through word of mouth.
Hosting your event can be a great way to get to know your customers and build relationships. Invite some of your best existing customers and encourage them to bring their friends.
Building brand awareness in your local community is a great way to attract new business. Consider a sponsorship or participating in a community event to raise your business profile.
You should monitor where your customers are coming from in order to measure whether your marketing activities are successful or not. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Refine your approach if something is not working and focus more time on the activities that achieve the best results.
The first way to quickly grow your business is by building a sales funnel. If you don’t have a sales funnel, you’re making a monumental mistake. Sales funnels can help to automate your business. It helps you to scale and grow quickly and easily. Sure, there’s some front-end work involved. Obviously, but, once those processes are in place, it’s smooth sailing from there.
Frasier says that every sales funnel needs to be carefully conceptualised before it’s created. Consider the different funnels first and foremost. Whether it’s a free-plus-shipping offer or a high-ticket coaching funnel, it’s important to build your automated selling machine to scale and grow your business quickly.
Manually tracking transactions is hard. No one wants to do that. It gets too cumbersome as the business grows. If you want to scale quickly, use a customer management system. There are plenty to choose from. But, it depends on your line of work. Of course, cloud-based software like SalesForce is always a viable option.
Quickbooks can help you with accounting. InfusionSoft can also assist with sales and marketing. There are plenty of CMS systems, most of which integrate with other cloud-based services. Find what works for you and utilise it.
When going to market, and you’re looking to get your offer to the masses, you need to research the competition. Frasier says he uses two platforms to conduct his research. The first is Similar Web. The other, AdBeat. Both provide competitive intelligence. It’s your chance for x-ray lenses into all landing pages, ad copy, and other stages of the funnel.
This allows you to uncover any advertiser’s online strategy. Find the ads that have been running for the longest and emulate those. That’s the quickest way you scale any business. If it’s proven and it’s working for your competitors, it’ll likely work for you.
Loyalty programs are great ways to increase sales. It costs up to three times more money to acquire new customers than it does to sell something to an existing customer. Other resources pin this number anywhere from four to 10 times more. However, any way that you slice it, acquiring new customers is expensive.
Frasier says that building a customer loyalty program will help you retain customers. It might also help you attract new ones as well. If there’s a clear incentive to spend more money with you, it’ll pay off in the long run. Build an attractive loyalty program and make it accessible to your existing customers and watch sales skyrocket over time.
Analyse new opportunities in your business by understanding your demographic better. Understand everything from distribution channels to your direct competitors and even an analysis of foreign markets and other potential industries. There are likely dozens of new opportunities you could pursue immediately with the proper amount of analysis.
One of the best and most effective ways to grow a business quickly is to build an email list. That means you need to have a lead magnet. Why else would people subscribe to your list? And, with a lead magnet, comes the necessity for a sales funnel. Look into companies like Aweber, ConstantContact, ConvertKit, Drip, GetResponse and others for building and managing your list.
Strategic partnerships with the right companies can truly make a world of difference. It could allow you to reach a wide swath of customers quickly. Identifying those partnerships might be easier said than done. But, look out for companies that are complementary to your own. Contact them and propose opportunities for working together.
In the eCommerce business selling products? Why not use Amazon’s FBA service? In the business of selling services? Why not use Upwork? In the business of renting vacation homes? Why not leverage AirBnB, InvitedHome, HomeAway or other global platforms? Find a platform that’s reached saturation and use it to grow your business quickly.
Doing licensing deals is a great way to grow your business without too much-added effort. If you have a product that you can license to others and share revenue of, that’s an ideal way to grow quickly. Taking a popular or successful product and bringing it to a company with a large footprint can help you achieve market saturation quicker.
If you have a successful business, and you’re looking to grow quickly, consider franchising it. Although franchise costs are high and moving to a franchise model is complex and takes a lot of marketing know-how, it could make all the difference if you’re truly looking for quick growth.
Look into diversifying your offers. What complementary products or services or information can you offer in your business? In order to grow, you need to think about expansion. Identify new opportunities within your niche. Uncover the pain points. What else can you sell to your clients? Where else can you add value in the exchange?
Growing a business takes significant effort. If you’re dealing with razor-thin margins, consider building passive income streams. This way, you don’t have to worry so much about keeping the lights on. Passive income will allow you to make mistakes and not have to lose your shirt. It’ll keep you in business and provide a basis to grow and market and scale quickly by giving you ample resources.
Sometimes, acquiring other businesses is a very quick way to grow your own business. If you can find competitors or businesses in other industries that would complement your own, you could use them as platforms to scale fast. Please take a look within your industry and even outside of it to find the potential for potential opportunities.
Can you expand internationally? Can you take your existing offers and scale them internationally? What would it take to do business in Canada or Mexico or Europe? If you have a converting offer, international expansion could be a quick way to grow. You’ll incur some costs. Sure. But, the potential for profits could be massive.
Webinars are a great way to promote any product or service. It can also help you grow any business relatively fast. Webinars provide an automated selling tool for literally taking any product or service to market and reaching a wide audience quickly. The webinar medium is great for captivating audiences to clinch sale after sale, automatically.
I hope this article has given you a better feel for how to promote your business. These relatively low investment methods will help you get the ball rolling.
Ultimately, there is no single guaranteed winning strategy for promoting a business. It’s a lot of trial and error, and this list should get you started.
Here’s the big takeaway: Success is not a given. If you want your small business to be more successful this year, you need to make the necessary changes to bring that about.
That work may be as simple as investing in a new tool or as challenging as changing your thinking about some of your business processes. But you haven’t brought your business this far only to let it stagnate, have you? Make the next year your best year yet.
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