Running a small business presents so many challenges, especially in the first few years after starting up. There's so much to learn, from understanding your financials to ordering stock or managing staff. All too often the small business owner is so swamped by the day-to-day running of their business that they forget that they actually need to invest some time promoting themselves to generate more customers.
It's no surprise then, that according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, more than 60% of small business fail within the first 3 years. But there are some relatively simple things you can do from a marketing perspective, to avoid becoming one of these statistics.
My top marketing tips for small business owners are:
Have A Plan
Your business plan should include your marketing strategy with a clear overview of who your target customers are and how you can reach them cost-effectively.
Many small business owners get put off by the term 'marketing strategy' as they think it has to be complicated and expensive! It doesn't! A good marketing strategy need not be costly but risking too little on a great idea probably isn't going to give you enough of an opportunity to grow your business.
Know Your Target Customer
Having a clear idea of who you are targeting can really pay dividends in helping determine where your target customers are likely to be found and therefore what marketing tactics are going to be most effective.
A good first step in identifying your target customer is to understand the problems that your product or service solves. Who is most likely to use your product?
Visualising your customer by creating a 'persona' can be a great first step in identifying and developing your target audience.
Know Your Competitors
In my opinion, this is such an important aspect of your marketing strategy and relatively easy to do, especially by making use of the internet.
Knowing who your competitors are, where they are based and how they are promoting themselves to their customers can give you heaps of invaluable information! To begin with, you can begin to identify what makes you different and why people should do business with you instead.
You can also get some ideas for your own marketing by looking at the tactics that they use to reach their customers and which approaches appear to have the most success.
Have A Website
While this is a promotional tool rather than a strategy in itself, in my opinion having a website, no matter how basic, is a necessity rather than a nice-to-have in today's digital world.
The reality is, regardless of how 'local' your business is, the majority of consumers will search online first when looking for a product or service. In fact, the recent Sensis e-Business Survey 2016 found that a massive 92% of small business owners use the internet to look for information about products and services.*
Your website is your first chance to impress potential customers and all businesses regardless of their size or industry should have a web presence. Without it you risk missing out on opportunities to not only get your 'brand' out there but to generate new leads for your business quickly and cost-effectively. What's more you can bet that your competitor will be taking advantage of your lack of web presence.
Keep Your Customers Engaged
Doing nothing to promote your business is no longer an option. While there is definitely not a one-size-fits-all approach to marketing your small business, there are some relatively easy, cost-effective ways to reach and engage with your customers and prospective customers even on a relatively small budget.
In competitive markets, you can be sure that if you're not actively promoting your business, you will be losing customers to your competitors. Sharing updates with your customers on a regular basis can keep you at the forefront of their mind when considering future purchases. This is one of the reasons social media marketing has become so popular.
So there you have it! I guess the underlying message to all of this is: make sure you are doing something to promote your business. It really doesn't have to be overly-complicated or expensive.
If you need advice on your marketing strategy or support developing your marketing activity, give me a call today on 0478 042536 or email firstname.lastname@example.org