February 18, 2019
Small business growth ideas
Running a small business is damn hard. You don’t have infinite resources like multi-million dollar corporations, you have to work super long hours, and you often struggle to balance work and personal commitments — and that’s just the beginning.
You also have external factors to worry about: your customers and the latest trends. Your customers don’t just want to see a new product; they also expect that product to stand out and be unique. Your customers are also looking for unique business experiences or convenient ways to get their hands on that product.
You also have to keep up with the latest sales trends. Marketing automation, micro-moments, lead nurturing, neuromarketing and the customer journey are probably just a handful of head-scratching phrases that you may have come across while skimming through marketing newsletters. Getting your head around all this terminology is hard, but implementing them is even harder. To get you started on the right path, here are 4 inexpensive and user-friendly ways to ensure that your business stays ahead of the game by keeping up with the latest sales trends:
1. Add automation (but keep personalization)
Your customers demand quick service when shopping or contacting a business. At the same time, they also expect to receive content that is tailored to them. How is it possible for small businesses to deliver both? The short answer is marketing automation.
It seems like many customers are totally on board with marketing automation, too. In fact, 42% of customers would rather deal with businesses via online chats instead of on the phone (Inc). Adding a chatbot to your website allows your customer to connect with you almost instantly, expediting customer service while saving your business time and money.
Understandably, many people think that automating removes the personal element behind their marketing but this is not true. In fact, automation allows you to personalize your marketing activities at scale, so you can focus your time on other tasks. You are free to personalize as much of your marketing as you want; automating can be as simple as sending personalized emails to your customers or designing entire customer journeys that give you control over their decision-making process.
2. Join the online sales sector
According to Score, 51% of customers prefer to shop online than in person. If your small business doesn’t have an online presence, you may be missing out on potential sales leads. You can promote your products through a variety of online channels such as online marketplaces, social media platforms, or your website.
3. Encourage customer feedback
88% of customers trust online reviews and personal recommendations equally (Score). In other words, it’s great if you have one happy customer telling their neighbor how amazing your product is, but that isn’t enough. You must also encourage that customer to leave that feedback on Google, review channels (for example, Zomato or TripAdvisor), social media, or your website — ideally all of the above!
Help! A customer left a bad review, what should I do?
No small business owner likes receiving bad feedback but like death and taxes, they are a part of life. What matters is how you deal with the feedback. The worst thing you can do is to ignore the negative reviews — ignoring feedback is harmful to your business’ reputation and shows that you don’t care about your customers.
In reality, most customers don’t care if your small business did something wrong — they are actually more interested in seeing how you fix the problem. Reply to the customer who left the feedback; clarify any misunderstanding with humility before offering them a discount or refund, or letting them know they can speak to you directly. There will be times when your response may not be enough to change a stubborn customer’s mind, but at the very least it may change the minds of other customers reading the review.
4. Keep an eye on the next trend
It’s not enough to be on top of the latest trend and say that your job is done. Trends come and go regularly, and it’s crucial that you are looking out for the next one so you don’t get caught out. Here are some things you can do to ensure you stay ahead of the game:
- Read the latest business news and marketing blogs daily
- Monitor what your competitors are doing (you know what they say about keeping your enemies closer…)
- Regularly ask your customers for feedback — you can do this via live chat, email surveys or Autopilot's handy powerful tool called Headsup.