So you’ve started your own small business. You’ve created a product or service that people want, you’ve set up a website, and you’ve started selling. Fast-forward a year later and sales have stayed consistent. That’s good! But there’s one little problem. Consistency goes hand in hand with stagnancy. Your business is staying steady, but it’s not growing.
Just as the best defense is a good offense, the best way of preventing business loss is by ensuring business growth. How do you do that? Word of mouth and product diversification can help, but what you really need is to get your business out there in front of more people, and that means marketing. Turn your small business into a big business by making use of these marketing fundamentals:
This may seem obvious but it’s also essential. More than any other aspect of marketing, knowledge of who your customers are, where they’re looking, and what they want should inform everything you do. Visit forums frequented by enthusiasts of whatever it is you’re selling. Browse related hashtags and discussion groups on social media. Conduct surveys. Read reviews of your product, even the bad ones. Especially the bad ones. Look at what your competitors are doing. Read reviews of their products, too. You may think you know enough already, but there’s always more to learn.
Advertisements are the most conventional and direct form of marketing, but they’re also among the most reliable. While many people will say they dislike ads and have even been conditioned to ignore them, the truth is that an attention-grabbing ad, geared towards the tastes of a specific consumer group and placed someplace members of that group are likely to see it, can break through the defenses of even the hardiest cynics. There are so many different types of ads: web banners, pay-per-click links, advertorials, commercials on TV and radio (or their online equivalents: YouTube and podcasts). If you know who and where your customers are, a good advertisement is still just as effective as ever.
If roughly half of your customers discover your business from ads, chances are the other half discover it while searching the web for something they want. Maybe you have that something, but no one will ever know that if your business doesn’t come up during their search. Regardless of the reality, people tend to assume that the “best” websites are whichever ones come up on the first few pages of search results. How do you get your website to rank higher in those results? Search engine optimization, or SEO, is a form of marketing that utilizes keywords, meta tags, and link building to position your business for maximum search visibility. In today’s online marketplace, working with an agency specializing in SEO services is a worthy investment.
It can be tempting to start a social media account for your business, post a link to your website, and then just call it a day. As an avenue for growing your business, though, few are as fast or as full of potential as social media. Posting regularly on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or Instagram not only allows you to keep customers up to date with your products, but it also humanizes your brand. It makes your business an ongoing presence in customers’ lives and inspires brand loyalty through active engagement. Best of all, social media encourages users to share your links for you, turning your own customers into free advertisements.