business, customers, Marketing, Social Media

4 Ways to Grow Your Small Business

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The U.S. Small Business Administration suggests that businesses that generate less than less than $5 million in revenue (only) set aside between 7-8% for marketing.” -SBA.gov

What does that tell you?

Well, it tells me that most businesses are only spending 7-8% on marketing. That is the small retailer, the dentist up the street, the daycare, and your favorite restaurant. All businesses vital to our community– and sadly, they are probably worried constantly about finding new customers and making ends meet. So then, why are they spending so little on something that could grow their business?

I know, its a jungle out there. With all the overwhelming buzz about social media marketing, how can you blame a small business for feeling overwhelmed and frustrated? Don’t be overwhelmed. Marketing is still marketing. It takes a strategy, attention, and most important, a budget to make it work. So let’s get to the ways it will help you get things done.

#1 ATTRACTING NEW CUSTOMERS: Getting new people to come into your business is not as easy as placing an AD in the Yellow Pages, but that is how most smaller businesses are hoping people will knock on the door. Sure one or two may filter in the door and tell you they saw you on YP.com, but getting the right people in front of you is the first key to small business marketing success.

  • Start by identifying who they are—demographics, location, interest, life-events, and stages. Knowing these things allows you to reach out to them through blogging, posting, advertising and web optimization. You need to be where your customers are—not where you are.
  • Your customers are using social media, and most likely they are using it from their smartphones, so what does your website look like on mobile phone? When was the last time you changed your website? Does it still have a cute Flash video? Did you know that iPhones can’t view those? Your website is important. It is the single most important part of your marketing plan. Everything you do on social media–all the tweets, the posts, the incredible blog posts are intended to lead people back to your website. It’s the lobby of your business. It is what will attract people into your door.

#2 CONVERT: So once your customers find you, are attracted to you by all the awesome and relevant information on your website, there needs to be some kind of call to action so that you can welcome them into your business.

  • Are they signing up for your newsletter that never gets written and sent? Are they filling out contact forms that never get responded too? Are they liking your posts (assuming you are posting)? How do you keep track of all this contact data? Do you have an email list? Contact software? ….hello, is anyone out there? How do you even know that customers are looking at your business to help them solve their problems or meet their needs?
  • Do you have someone on your staff who understands how to respond to your social media presence? It’s time to think about hiring someone.

#3 CLOSE: I know, you don’t have a sales department. Who does? The sales department of 1980 closed up in the 90’s, so its time small businesses understood that “closing the deal” is something customers control in the 21st Century.

  • If customers are calling you or stopping in for a visit, they are ready to buy. Yes, they are ready to buy. Even aging baby boomers have smartphones and use the internet to get their information, so the days of visiting to get your brochure are over. Be ready to reach out, shake their hands, and sign them up!
  • The question here is: do you have enough people coming in to buy? That is not a sales department problem, it is a social media problem. Get someone to help you get the word out.

#4 DELIGHT: This is where most small businesses really fail, and it’s a shame because it is so easy to delight your customers today. You see, while you were cutting your costs by letting go the receptionist and the extra staff, you also lost a key part of customer service—oh yeah, it’s called CUSTOMER SERVICE.

  • Who is thanking your customers? Who is welcoming them? Who is contacting them to see if they are happy and need anything else? I don’t care if you clean teeth, change diapers or sell pizza, customers want to be appreciated and given a reason to delight in their decision to come to you.
  • What’s your plan? Are your employees trained on customer service? Do they know your mission statement? Are they happy and smiling, because if they are not, then your customers will not be happy and smiling either.
  • Customer service did not die with the internet, it exploded! This is an important part of your marketing budget.

“Marketing is food, not medicine. It’s the regular, sustained nourishment that gets your business where you want it—and keeps it there.” James Archer, Forty.co

Marketing is not something you scramble to when the economy skids, or when you lose a top customer, or your enrollment is down. Marketing is the blood of your business. So avoid the need for a transfusion and keep it healthy and flowing 24/7 with a strategy and a plan. And the best part is that small businesses have the advantage. They can act quickly, test faster and quicker than the big guys—it is just a decision to start.

So let’s start a small business revolution and double that marketing budget from 7-10% to over 20-30%. What do you think would happen to your business?

Image: Graphic Stock

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