If you ask any small business owner, one of the major factors affecting business trajectory -- along with other major challenges including cash flow, health care, tax compliance, employee hiring -- is sales. Revenue is a key driver to any business as it is directly related to one's bottom line growth and ability to scale. So then, what are the key factors to increasing sales if you're currently struggling? With only 50% of small businesses surviving past the five-year mark, this is a necessary problem that many of us prioritize.
Here are some quick marketing tips directed toward my fellow entrepreneurs that can help fuel growth for your small business.
1. Live in your niche/engage with your customer
One CBInsights analysis study concluded that 42% of small businesses fail because there is no market need for the product offered. In order to make sure your product is solving a customer challenge, you'll need to live in your niche and constantly engage with your current and potential customer base. Understand how your product can help solve a problem in their lives. Market research via tools, such as customer service surveys or focus groups, can help garner insights to inform better product-related decisions. Building relationships with your customers is always beneficial.
Another way to live in your niche is to attend industry trade events that target your customer or market specifically. This allows you to further understand their buying behavior and what's driving their purchase decisions. You'll also be able to network with other leaders in your industry and share experiences that can yield ideas for how you can better serve your customer.
2. Spend money to make money
As the saying goes, "Scared money don't make no money." In business, investing in advertisements can be a targeted way to drive sales. Depending on your business, social media is a low cost way to start spending ad dollars. First, you'll need to make sure your visual media, sales copy, and call to action is extremely clear. Then, use the social media platform's ad tools to target your ad as specifically as possible. You may need to make different versions of the ad depending upon your market segment.
One size does not fit all. Working with a social media ads expert for training or implementation is a smart investment if you're not comfortable running an ad campaign alone. A solid expert should be able to tailor your visuals, sales copy and call to action to align with your sales goals. Other types of worthwhile paid promotion include buying advertising space on other platforms (websites, podcasts, radio, TV), working with influencers to push your product or service, or even offering affiliate codes to others to help direct traffic to your business.
Depending upon your business, investing in a content marketing strategy can also be valuable. What kind of content can you create or push out into the world that drives brand awareness and inspires customers to take action? If you're a service provider, investing in video content that teaches lessons related to your service might be a way to drive future sales. Or, hiring a publicist that can help you land press opportunities and increase your brand awareness is another smart way to spend marketing dollars. Whatever you choose, you'll want to make sure you're consistently reviewing all reports monthly (or weekly) to make sure there is a positive ROI (return on investment.) Then, adjust if needed.
3. Nurture your email list
Email marketing is an often underlooked tool that can drive business growth. If you aren't investing in building a quality, well-engaged email list now is the time to start. Email marketing is a great way to stay top of mind and build a personal relationship with your audience. However your emails shouldn't always be about driving customers to buy something from you. Use emails as a way to build a sense of genuine community. Share behind the scenes about your company or tips that your customer can use in their own lives. Show that you care.
Making sure you choose the right email service provider based on your business and email needs is also crucial. A good email service provider should allow you to segment your audience so that you can send emails that cater to their past behaviors and experience with your business.
4. Conduct a website audit
If you're an online-based business, you'll want to ensure that it is easy for customers to buy from you. Is your website designed to convert interested customers into paying customers? Take some time to analyze your site for key indicators of future sales performance. Does the site take a long time to load? Are your product and/or service descriptions clear? For example, if you're an online fashion boutique, are your product photos well-taken and edited? Do you have all appropriate sizing information readily available to someone who is looking? Making sure your cart checkout process is easy is also key. Many customers will abandon cart, especially if they can't figure out how to checkout and pay.
Take time to act as a customer and walk through your website experience. Make sure your content is search-engine optimized -- and includes keywords that your customer is searching for. If you notice kinks or detractors, it's more than likely that your customer will as well. Your website doesn't have to be fancy or cost the most to design, but it should be aesthetically appealing, effective, easy to use, and drive action towards your sales goal.
At the end of the day, you'll need to find the right marketing mix that works for your business. The best way to see results and grow your sales is to experiment constantly, review your insights and analytics, and make sure you're intune with customer feedback and needs. Make smart investments in people, systems, and tools that can aid along your business sales journey.
If you need a refresher on marketing tips that convert, check out a favorite of mine -- Guerilla Marketing Remix by Jay Conrad Levinson.
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