Starting a new business is tough in today’s market. Not only is there vastly more competition, but in order to thrive and survive, you have to be savvy enough to use the multitude of new marketing techniques available and to make the most of the resources you have.
Many businesses make the mistake of expanding too quickly, or are simply not reaching their target market, therefore not reaching their revenue goals. There are numerous articles, books, even purchasable marketing packets labeled “How to Grow your Small Business” or “How to succeed in small business.” While many of them have valid tips, the basic principles throughout many of them can be boiled down into 5 simple bullet points.
1. Define your target market and brand, brand, brand – Often businesses struggle most with a sense of identity. Who do they want to be? Who do they need to target? Look first to customers already within the market. What does your business have to offer that your competitors don’t? Once you have a steady client base, keep them happy by providing them a positive emotional connection to your brand – they will refer people to you.
2. Have a strategic plan to maximize the use of your resources. Most likely your team is small, and your resources limited. Have a plan in place that defines what your goals are and the steps you need to get there. From this plan, define efficient systems and processes to make the most of the people you do have and use technology to help enhance your efforts when appropriate. Lastly, in small businesses people wear many hats, so seek to hire those who can not only multi-task, but are out of the box creative thinkers.
3. Plan quarterly – Don’t just break down sales into a quarterly tally, but include marketing initiatives and other strategic goals. At the end of each quarter review your progress. If there are areas that are lacking, seek to redefine the goals or redeploy resources to help ensure the next quarter is a success.
4. Have an online presence- The internet has become a resource for knowledge. Google is actually a verb in the dictionary. The first thing people do when they hear about something that peaks their interest is turn to the internet for knowledge. As a relatively free resource, this is something you can’t afford not to take part in.
- Build a website, ensure that is has all of the proper contact information on it, and update it frequently.
- Social media is a huge free resource to promote sales or special events to your customers. Utilize both for spreading information and for networking.
- Ask your customers to write reviews on yelp, Angie’s list or other pertinent search engines – these can go a long way in swaying new customers to choose your business over another.
- A picture is worth a thousand words – very true, but a picture often appeals to the shortened attention span of today’s society – be creative.
5. Create an effective and scalable sales model – The sales team should grow with your business. Don’t hire more people unless the sales are there to support it. Define what it is you want customers to perceive and create a standard for all sales reps to follow. Consistency in your message will show strength and organization, leading to greater consumer confidence.
While there are many factors that will help to define your individual business, these general keys, if applied properly and consistently, should help to maximize the growth of your business to where you want it to be.