Small Business is full of challenges, yet there are many tools and strategies available for success. Below we outline 13 tips to help the small businessman move from surviving to thriving.
13 Small Business Marketing & Sales Tips
Developing a business plan is a must for any small business.
1. Develop A Business Plan. This is absolutely key and not as difficult as you may think. A business plan can (and should) consist of a budget outline, current customer base, current marketing/advertising efforts, current strengths and weaknesses, target markets, areas of high potential and the methods/mediums available to reach targets and high potential areas.
Or more simply put. It should be made up of reasonable goals for your company, the ways available for achieving these goals, the resources available and then a final plan, and a scheduled outline for moving forward.
2. Make It A Long Term One. Every small business is constrained by the almighty budget.
Take some time to determine the areas of easiest and greatest potential gain. Isolate the best prospects for your business then determine how best to access them. Set your goals, make them achievable then proceed.
The key to achieving market goals is to remain consistent in your marketing. Find a plan that works with your resources, budget and availability then stick to it. If you are not certain how best to go about this, many tips and articles (such as the one you are reading) exist.
Or you can contact specialists who can sit down with you and hammer out the right – individualized – strategy for your specific business. You would be surprise how cost effective this can be.
3. Separating Sales & Profits. There are two types of money for the small businessman. Cash & Profits.
- When you make a sale you make Cash.
- When you make a sale at more than your overall cost, you make a Profit.
Typically speaking many small businesses have a primary focus on making sales and bringing in cash – a necessary and intelligent step if you wish to survive and maintain a roof over your head.
To move forward as a business however, cash must begin becoming profits. Profits allow businesses to not just exist but to grow. The small business man must analyze where the greatest profit potential lies and develop a plan of attack. These plans can take many forms, and are a necessity for success.
Business sourcing is increasingly shifting to online searches. Is your business visible online?
4. Free Online Listings. Working under the assumption that you already have a website (necessary!) Get yourself listed with Search Engines and get found.
It is said that 97% of consumers search for businesses online. I know that I do. With the advent of mobile technology, online searching has surged. If you are a small business online, increasing your presence is a must. If you are a small business not online – get online!
As Small Businesses we cannot afford to lose even one customer. Creating and then increasing an online presence ensures YOUR business is what turns up when customers are searching.
For things like Search Engine registration no technical expertise is needed. Here are a few good starting points:
- Google Business Listings
- Google Places
- Bing business portal
- Yahoo Local
- Yelp Claim Your Business
5. Cold Calling Is Not Dead. So unless you are, hit the road. Make the sales calls, contact the prospects and be regimented in doing so. Again, set goals for yourself – three cold calls a day, eight in a week, whatever it is, stick to it.
Build a list of targets – who they are, what they do and why they should be interested in you. Treat it like a job interview, research your prospect and be ready to answer questions. Have at least three reasons they should look to you.
Start with high potential clients first then work your way down. Yes it may seem scary, however it gets easier with time – remember YOU have value for your customers and you know it, therefore YOUR goal is nothing more than to demonstrate that. Don’t focus on selling (it is cheesy) explain and relate – you will see higher success.
6. Keep Following Up. Do not be irritating – but keep your business in clear view of your customers. Remind consumers you are there. Do not barrage them, keep in mind however, that even if they want to purchase from you – they may not necessarily remember you. Stay visible. Follow up.
Survival: All of your marketing exposure, engagement, goodwill and efforts need to lead to one thing – making the sale. Remember that you want more than just the one sale – you want the customer for life.
7. Close The Deal. None of these tips matter if the deal doesn’t go through. Marketing in itself is a means to gain the sale. Yes it creates brand awareness and increases business to consumer visibility, however if it does not result in a sale your business won’t last long.
You need your customers to make the purchase. There are good and bad ways of going about this. Engaging them, building relations, and creating brand trust are all a part of this.
Provide your customers with a strong “call to action” in your Marketing. Provide incentives to solidify the deal sooner. Give them a reason to sign the dotted line.
Don’t be abrasive, but personally and directly ask to take the order and finalize the sale.
8. The Rule Of “Return & Refer”. The rule is simple: If you satisfy a customer, they will return to you and refer you to others. Gaining these two favours is a top priority for any business. Satisfy your customer, then look to them for the repeat business.
Never assume they will remember you years later, so make an impression at the start. Go the extra mile and win their loyalty.
9. Market To Prior Customers (Repeat Business). A solid part of any small business marketing strategy is targeting current and former customers. The first preliminary sale should be considered not the end, but the beginning of your business transaction with a consumer.
Good first impression notwithstanding, not all customers will remember a business name so “market to remind”. Repeat sales typically take less effort and resources to secure compared to going out and winning new accounts – this factors into turning cash into profits. A good portion of a businesses profits will come from these repeat customers.
Make sure your business is still visible to your customers from three years ago.
Image source: Followyourcustomer.com
10. Get A Contact Management System. Every small business needs an organized system for managing business contacts. With mobile and cloud technology it is becoming increasingly easy to setup an online system, accessible from just about anywhere.
You will never need to be without your little black book again. Consider a few of these options:
- MS Outlook Integrated System
- Prophet (By Avidian)
11. Shop Local, Shop Small. If every one of your customers suddenly began making their purchases at the big box stores or online, how would you feel?
That is how the small businesses in your community feel as well.
- Support your local small business community and they will support you.
- Build relations with other businesses and make your purchases locally whenever possible.
- Avoid making the purchases online. Yes there are some deals that cannot be turned away, however small businesses cannot survive if all they are, are showrooms for online retail.
You reap what you sow. Want the community to support you business? Then support them first.
12. Use Social Media. First off Social Media is not going to directly make you profits. Social Media is, in itself, not the means to make the sale.
It is however:
- A primary means of increasing online presence.
- A direct TWO WAY line of communication with customers.
- A monitoring feed for following trends, communications and competitors.
Social Media is a free resource, but as with any Marketing avenue, should be approached with a plan.
- Who will post on behalf of your business?
- What will they post?
- How often will they post?
- Who are they targetting?
- Why are they targetting them?
- How are they to handle direct feedback and/or criticism?
It may seem like a lot, but it really isn’t that scary. Simply sit down and answer each of those questions in turn until the strategy is in place. We also recommend checking out a few of our previous posts on Social Media Marketing:
13. Create An Annual Newsletter Utilizing Cloud Services. We have mentioned newsletters before, however they bare repeating. They are a prime tool for budget friendly Marketing.
No a newsletter does not need to be boring. It is simply put “news”. Broadcast sales info, new products, customer stories… the options are endless – as are the sites that can facilitate this.
- Mail Chimp
- Constant Contact
- Vertical Response
Now-a-days, by utilizing a cloud service you have access to built-in analytics – that is information on “opens” and “click-throughs” etc. Which is highly useful for monitoring your efforts and the results.
Transition Marketing Services. Our passion is educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds.
We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how were doing or if you have any questions.
TRANSITION MARKETING SERVICES – Small Business Marketing Specialists