Develop an effective website
Whether you are an established business or just starting out, potential customers will be searching for you online – often before they pick up the phone or walk through your door. Having a functional website that clearly communicates what your company offers, what makes your product different and up-to-date contact information, will help grow your business. There are some fantastic online tools that will help you develop a professional-looking website for free, without the need for any coding or design skills whatsoever – check out WordPress and Wix.
Build your email list
Research shows that email marketing works. Permission-based marketing is based on a friendly exchange – your customer’s email address for a promise to provide value. As you nurture a positive relationship via your newsletter, with special offers, useful or inspiring content, and discounts, your customers will be more inclined to buy from you. Incentivise new customers to sign up with contests, giveaways, referral bonuses and added value like webinars. Make a consistent effort to attract targeted new subscribers and you’ll reap the benefits.
One of the biggest challenges for small business owners is converting online leads into paying customers. It comes down to convincing people, you’ve never met, that you deserve their trust – which is why social proof is so important.
Adding testimonials to your website is a simple way to convince potential customers they won’t regret buying from you. In fact, it’s been shown that this simple form of social proof can increase conversions by 34%. So let your customers know you’d like their feedback, and ask for permission to include their positive comments on your company website.
Other kinds of social proof you can use to win over customers online include:
- Case studies
- Media mentions
- Customers logos
- Accreditations and certifications.
This simple growth hack is effective both on and offline. Initiating a relationship with a company that provides complementary products or services can quickly increase your communication network and give your growth a big boost.
There are many ways a new business relationship could work – you might negotiate a joint venture; host an event where you promote each other’s products, special deal or offer; run a giveaway together; or, launch a combined product or service. It’s also a great idea to get your business listed on another business’s website, or in an industry directory.
Utilise new technology
Modern technology can save you time, improve productivity and reduce your operational costs. Make use of social media by increasing your brand awareness and online communication. Xero can help with your accounting and bookkeeping, Google Docs can be used for collaborative documents and Skype is useful for video conferencing.
For any orders, make sure your customer completes a credit application and that they understand your terms of trade. Encourage your customers to clear payments quickly by emailing or posting invoices and giving clients a clear time frame to pay. Revisit your terms of trade and make any necessary changes if need be.
Join business associations and organisations
Business associations and organisations give you access to industry leaders in your market. They hold regular events, seminars, short courses and networking evenings which can be incredibly valuable for meeting business owners, developing your skills, identifying investors and learning more about your industry and competitors. Think about how you can adapt the fabulous ideas you hear about to your own business!
Improve your customer service
Businesses with good customer service retain consumers and attract new business through word-of-mouth. Even if you think you’re already providing good service, make it a priority to provide refresher training to frontline staff at least once a year. Take any feedback from customers seriously and make an effort to thank them for sharing their thoughts – even if they are raising concerns or making a complaint. If you have a customer who isn’t happy, listen to what they have to say… there’s a chance that other customers might share their concerns.
Rejuvenate your marketing material
Holding on to old, outdated marketing material can make your business appear out-of-touch or even unprofessional. If you want to grow your business, review your marketing material at least every 12 months. If you’re on a limited budget, focus on producing basic material that is stylish but functional and is consistent with your branding.
Guarantee your products and services
If you want to build future sales through repeat customers, you need to make it clear that you stand behind your offerings. A good start is to offer a money-back guarantee for any product sold or to back up big sales with after-sales support.
Be realistic but don’t settle
As you try out some new ways to market your business, be sure to set actionable and achievable goals. Make it a habit to review your metrics on a regular basis to see how well your strategies are working. Then use that data to set new goals to keep winning over customers and expanding your business.
Don’t be afraid to try new ways of generating growth. Some will work spectacularly, whilst others will not, but you’ll never know if you don’t try. As the great Muhammad Ali once said, “He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.”