Business owners often ask me for growth and profit-boosting tips that can give their companies a shot in the arm. Many feel they’ve hit a wall and don’t seem to be really getting anywhere.
While there aren’t any magic bullets, and everyone’s situation is a little different, these ideas can help spark or accelerate growth for most small businesses:
1. Create a new offering that can expand your customer base. Start by developing as deep an understanding as possible about your existing customers as well as potential new customer segments. Think about attributes that they share and why, when and how they buy your products or services.
Then devise ways to sell more to existing customers while drawing new ones with additional products or perhaps variations on what you already offer that would appeal to other segments.
For example, many business owners have been successful at drawing new customers simply by offering multiple price points and creating packages, bundles, customizable plans and even subscriptions of some kind. This provides existing customers and potential buyers – both B2C and B2B – with more freedom and flexibility in how they buy from you.
2. Ramp up low-cost and online (digital) marketing efforts. Email marketing remains one of the lowest cost and most effective types of marketing that a small business can use. But in order for email to work, you have to do it well. Don’t simply send antiquated-looking, text email “blasts” from your computer. Use one of the many low-cost email marketing platforms available online, and personalize as much as you can.
Services such as Constant Contact, Silverpop, Vertical Response, Campaigner, iContact and others can help you create and execute effective email campaigns. In any case, you’ll need to develop, refine and segment your own email lists. Try providing customers and website visitors with something of value in exchange for their email addresses.
3. Improve and expand your website. Nearly every business – no matter how small -- needs a great-looking website to stay competitive. This is one area where spending money for outside help can be a good investment. Cloud-based services that can help you create a great looking website on your own can also be a good choice if your needs are not complex.
Services to consider include Squarespace, Wix and Web.com. And make sure your site is mobile optimized. More than half of all website visits now originate from a mobile device.
4. Set aside time to sharpen your marketing messages. The words and images you use to define your products, services and company are critical to your success. Take a step back and review the wording on your website, in your emails and in your marketing and sales collateral.
Does it clearly tell customers and prospects what you offer and what makes you different from the competition? If not, it may be time to overhaul your messaging. Keep it simple and free of jargon and meaningless buzz words and phrases.
5. Create an animated explainer video. An animated explainer video can be a terrific way to show quickly and simply what you offer and what makes you different or special. The ideal length is about 90 seconds, and probably shouldn’t run more than two minutes at most. Shorter is better.
There are several great services that specialize in creating animated explainer videos for small businesses. A good low-cost option is Promoshin (promoshin.com). Digital Brew (digitalbrew.com) is another good choice with a higher price point. You can see dozens of samples on their websites.
6. Surround yourself with experts. Get feedback from advisors you trust, such as an attorney or accountant. Hundreds of thousands of small business owners count on SCORE each year for free and confidential advice. Use a mentor to test ideas, map a sales plan and focus on success. Select an expert in your field from a list available at the SCORE website and ask your questions via email, or meet with a mentor in person at one of hundreds of locations nationwide. Visit www.score.org.
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