I love September. It always has that back to school feeling and the idea of a fresh start. A perfect time to refocus, reset and review what area of small business growth you need to work on. Is it too early to talk about Christmas? Generally, planning at this time of year does include thinking about your Christmas campaigns and the pre-season rush. So whilst a little early, it will need to be part of the mix.
Having said all of this – this year has been very different, I wonder if we will see the same patterns and trends as we would usually expect to see. Certainly, there will be a shift online vs in person, there is definitely an air of positivity, with children (finally) returning to school and enabling many of us to revert back to some sense of routine, giving us time to think.
In recent conversations with my clients, many are going to try to catch up on business lost over recent weeks and as a result really focusing on their small business growth for the final quarter. In our latest article we wanted to consider how we might approach the planning and share our 7 tips to drive your small business growth, here goes:
1.Check your plan
Now, for those of you who follow me, you will know that I talk a lot about your small business marketing strategy. So with this in mind I am hopeful that you do have a marketing strategy and plan that you are working to. Now is the perfect time to check in with that plan and see if you are on track? Is your target audience still the same? Are you getting the small business growth results from your marketing that you need? And what does success look like over the quarter? Once you have some answers to these questions, we can start to implement the marketing to help you achieve your goals.
2. Start talking about your business
This is a key point. Once you know what you want to achieve, who you are talking to and what products you are going to provide – start talking about it. Get out and about, start networking (online or in person) and talk about your business. There are many networking groups out there, all are slightly different and work for different businesses at different times. If you invest time in attending a group, don’t forget to be specific about what you are looking for.
3. Get Active!
Once you have defined your marketing strategy and where you are heading, you can start to implement your marketing. Here are a couple of ideas that delivered consistently, will help you start to grow your business:
- Refresh and review your website, do you need to introduce any new packages or refresh your copy to reflect changes to your business direction.
- Start or continue blogging, this is a great tool to help answer any of the questions commonly asked by your customers.
- Deploy an email out to your clients, reconnect with them and remind them you are there and how you can help them.
- Engage in social media. Don’t only share your content but also like and comment on other people’s social media activity – start a conversation.
- Pick up the phone. Possibly more relevant for a services business but if it has been a while since you spoke to some of your clients, why not pick up the phone, speak to them and see if they might need your help?
4. Invest in your business
Once you are clear on the direction that you would like your business to take and you have some of your base level marketing working well together, the next step would be to invest in marketing. There are many ways you can advertise and grow your reach, including: editorials, PR, online advertising and social media advertising to name a few options. Which route you choose will depend upon your business, your objectives and your target audience. The wider you can promote your business the more customers you will gain, supporting your small business growth.
5. Increase your productivity
Over the last few months it has been really easy not be as focused as you might otherwise have been on your small business, with the unexpected and unprecedented working environment. As things are changing again, there is space and time to think and ability to do something different.
Many businesses have pivoted and actually found new and exciting opportunities to progress. So, take some time out, to think about what gives you energy? What part of your business do you enjoy the most, and focus on that. What time of day are you most productive? Do you need a change of scenery? When you consciously start to think about some of these things we can make some easy adjustments, making us more productive.
6. Create Partnerships
This can be one of the easiest way to grow your reach, through collaboration with a like minded partner. There are some great examples where reciprocal marketing can be powerful. The type of marketing you do, will vary depending upon the partner and your business but the key thing is to ensure your partner is targeting a similar audience to you.
For example; a good partnership could be between a florist and a wedding venue. As people go through their wedding planning journey, they will want to source things in a particular sequence eg: they will want a venue and a dress, before they think about a photographer or flowers. To build a selection of partners to call on can really help.
7. Build loyal followers
To retain a customer is more economical than having to continually find and recruit new customers. Perhaps a slightly longer term strategy is to think about how you can reward your loyal customers? How can you make them feel appreciated and special? Some of the big brands have very successful Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions in place (I am thinking Tesco or Boots) as a great example of this. For a smaller business we might not have the same budgets to invest but could still apply some similar approaches applying a personalise service to your clients.
For example, if you are an individual clothing boutique, you could still offer discounts to repeat customers or special events offering them the first chance to review new season’s collections. However you decide to approach this, make sure you put your customer at the heart of everything and provide them with something that will make them feel valued.
Now is the perfect time of year to review your business progress, performance and ensure you are heading in the right direction. If you have a marketing question, or would like some help in reviewing your marketing approach, please get in touch to book a discovery call.