We have all heard that 80% of small businesses fail in their first year. Most of the rest fail within the next four years. There are a lot of reasons for this, but one is that small business managers simply do not take proper advantage of marketing as a method of growing sales. Part of this is because they think that they need a lot of money to have a marketing budget; this is not necessarily the case. Following are five easy tips that you can implement in any small business today to start growing your company and increasing revenue with little money out of pocket.
1) Advertise to get sales now This one may sound obvious, but the truth is that too many small businesses advertise in a way that is fit only for large business. Specifically, a large business can afford to do general brand advertising; that is, they can spend time and money advertising their name, with the idea that customers will know their name when they are finally in the market for the company’s particular type of product. They can afford to invest now for potential future returns. By contrast, your small business probably needs to get sales right now. Thus, you need to advertise more directly, in an attempt to earn current sales, not future potential sales.
2) Cross promote with other businesses One of the most overlooked areas of marketing in small business is the cross promotion. Say you own a pottery shop in a high end area; down the street is a high end candy store. You have your customer list and they have theirs, and the lists are probably quite a bit different. Cross promote. Work together to advertise some of your upcoming pottery specials on the chocolate shop’s next email, and vice versa. Also, you can each give out coupons for the other business to all customers in your shop. In this way you each grab a slightly different customer base, but one that is still geographically desirable.
3) Use technology Gone are the days when the only sales tool available to small business, besides word of mouth, was door to door salespeople or expensive print advertisements and mailings. Today, technology brings the small business owner myriad methods for marketing a small business in ways that are inexpensive and environmentally friendly. Every company today must have a web presence, so if you do not have a website then have one built immediately. You do not need to sell things on your site, but you need to have at least a basic informational website where people can go to see your hours, location and what services or products you offer. Direct mailings may seem a bit old school, but technology makes them less expensive than ever before. There are many websites, such as VistaPrint.com where you can create your own eye catching mailings online and purchase them for just pennies a postcard. Even better are email mailings. One tip, when using email be sure to use a good subject line that lets the customer know that you are a legitimate business whom they signed up with before, not some SPAM to be deleted.
4) Offer referral benefits and frequent flyer cards We have all heard that it is easier to keep an existing customer than to create a new one. But why not do both at the same time?! By offering excellent customer service and products you encourage others to spread the word about you. Give them points every time they come back and let them accumulate those points to use towards a discount or special offer and you encourage their continued patronage. Then, take it a step further and give your valued customer incentives for bringing in new customers. For example, if you own a message parlor, send your existing customers a coupon that offers themselves and a guest a certain percentage off if they come in with a new client.
5) Offer at least two levels of products or service Remember that products and service are rarely one size fits all. Some clients are looking for value and low cost. Others are willing to pay for a higher end product. Whether you sell a product or a service, always offer at least two levels – a value level and a premier level. This way you satisfy everyone, no matter their budget and goals.