What Are The 5 Best Ways To Grow Your Small Business?

Building a business takes A LOT of work. Most of the time it can seem like quite a thankless task. On top of that, getting more customers through the doors of your business feels impossible. Marketing for a small business can seem overly expensive and produce too little results. Trust me, I’ve been there. That’s why today I’m going to discuss the 5 best ways to grow your small business, as well as some of the costly mistakes that have ended some of my ventures.

Before we get in too deep there is just one concept I need all of you to understand.

One Size DOES NOT Fit All

In the world of clothing, it goes without saying. There’s no way that one size fits everyone, and I’m sure many of us have experiences that prove it.

Well, surprise surprise. The same rules apply to the growth of your small business. One marketing strategy may work wonderfully for the bakery down the street, but would be a complete waste of time for your bike shop.

With that out of the way, let’s jump into it!

1.Get To Know Your Customers

marketingI know it’s a simple suggestion, But don’t blow over it! This is the single most important part of building your business. Getting to know your customers will tell you everything you need to know regarding targeting, marketing strategies, sales, and so much more. If we ignore this step we will be moving forward blind. Several years before I began my career in marketing I helped start an automotive repair shop with some friends. None of us had been to college, or knew anything about running a business. We made the mistake of determining that our target audience was everyone. As it turned out however, when you target everyone, you are really targeting no one. We went all around town with fliers advertising sales, and announcing our grand opening but to no avail. The shop closed just 2 years after opening because of our failure to develop an audience.

How To Find You Audience

marketingTo start developing your target audience a simple sketch of the person you know wants or needs your product will work wonderfully. Sit down and on a scratch piece of paper develop the person that is your ideal customer. A few questions I use to define my target audiences are as follows:
  • What is their gender?
  • What is their name?
  • What is their relationship status?
  • What does their family/friend group look like?
  • What do they do in their free time?
  • What are they good at?
  • Where is their pain point?
  • What do they value?
  • Where do they spend their time online?
  • What is the best way to contact him/her?
Sometimes it helps to envision real people you know, or customers you have served to build your ideal consumer. As an example I’ll run through creating the ideal customer I should have created for our local auto repair shop.
  • What is their gender?
  • What is their name?
  • What is their relationship status?
  • What does their family/friend group look like?
1-3 Kids some teens, Stay at home wife, comfortable around his group of old friends. Stable in his relationships.
  • What do they do in their free time?
Enjoys cooking out, road trips, Spending time with family and friends
  • What are they good at?
They are good at their job, decent conversationalist, definitely good at grilling, great at taking the kids too and from practice, and great at scheduling date nights with the wife.
  • Where is their pain point?
Needs their vehicles to hang in there. Teen kids learning to drive, wife and kids don’t know the first thing about auto repair, Sam knows they need maintenance, but not much beyond that.
  • What do they value?
Sam likes things he can count on. He doesn’t need a lot of change in his life, he just needs a good place to go, someplace he can count on to deliver. Whether that’s his favorite sandwich or simply honest results. He values dependability.
  • Where do they spend their time online?
His time online is spent performing research on some new recipes, He connects much better in person than online so he doesn’t spend much time on facebook. He might have a Pinterest, but spends most of his time with trusty google.
  • What is the best way to contact him/her?
The best possible way to get in contact with Sam would be to call him. He keeps up with his e-mail, and will text back, but it’s not his choice of communication. Facebook runs the risk of never reaching him. As we work through building our character, it becomes clear that our flyers advertising sales and a new auto shop were not going to reach, or inspire Sam to come to us for his auto repair services. Advertising focusing more on honest service and reliable repair would have been a much more compelling message.

2. Put The Right Tools In Your Belt

Now that we’ve defined our target, It’s time to pick out the right tools for the job. Just like how it’s incredibly difficult to hammer in a nail with a sponge, it’s really hard to reach your customers with the wrong marketing channels. A review of the character we have created will reveal to us some of the most important channels for us to use to reach our consumers. However some marketing channels are stronger than others at achieving your businesses goals.

Social Media

Social Media Marketing can be a powerful tool for small businesses, and it is certainly a favorite for many. This branch of marketing is known for being economical, and certainly looks out for us little guys a lot more than Google or other methods do. Furthermore, there’s a social media site out there for just about everyone, so if your audience doesn’t spend much time on facebook or twitter, the chances are that you can find them on another platform.

Social media can be a great tool for both driving awareness and sales with a little creativity, But it can be very slow going until you get an audience built up. As a result it may not always be the best platform for those looking for immediate sales

PPC Search

Pay per click or PPC is absolutely EXCELLENT at producing sales quickly when it is managed well. However, this method has its weaknesses as well. The results it produces are temporary. The moment you quit paying for ads, you can expect to see a drop in sales. Additionally, It can only sell what people are searching for. So if your product or offering is not yet well known, PPC can be a difficult tool to use to start.

Search Engine

Search Engine Optimization or SEO is another powerful marketing tool, but it’s strength lies in awareness and strengthening your brand. When used effectively, SEO is what carries a business from a good local business to the industry leader. However, this form of marketing is very weak at producing sales directly.

Email Marketing

E-mail marketing is THE BEST at retargeting potential customers that have yet to convert. But, it can be exceptionally weak at producing awareness or leads. Those attempts typically wind up in the recipients spam folders. It is also difficult for less well known businesses to use this form of marketing due to the amount of scams and junk that come through our e-mail.

3. Make Data Driven Decisions

While building an audience off of our experience and gut feeling at the beginning gets us going the right direction, it’s not going to get us all the way to where we want to be. Making decisions regarding our marketing, products, and services that are based on data is a must! So it is imperative that you have at least some form of tracking set up. While each platform has its own tracking mechanism, I’d recommend that you set up as many of them as possible. The more information we can get, the more accurately we can paint the picture of our actual consumer base.

Facebook Pixel

The facebook pixel has by far the most in depth demographics, with interest targeting and tracking, it can be invaluable for helping to determine parallel markets, and other effective methods of reaching those who might be interested.

Google Ads Demographics

Google ads provides you with a lot of great information about the demographics of those that convert, as well as invaluable information about the searches they used to find you. The information that Google Ads provides gives you a detailed window you can look through to observe your consumer base, and more specifically, how they came to convert.

Google Analytics

Finally There is Google Analytics. Analytics is the tool that can tie together the information gathered from all other sources if it is implemented properly. With cross domain tracking, User ID tracking, And so much more, it can show you from beginning to end, the journey of your customers. How they discovered your brand, what caught their attention, and what helped them to convert. Using this information to re-evaluate your marketing is the secret to finding massive success. The issue with analytics is that it must be set up properly. With an improper setup, analytics will show you bad data. And bad data is worse than no data at all, it will cause you to make expensive mistakes! So whatever you do, make sure your tracking is set up right!

4. Interact With Your Environment

The fourth way to improve the growth of your small business is one that is often overlooked. It’s easy to get caught up in our own little world when we’re working on our business. We forget the importance of interacting with our environment. While the business is our life, and every thought and heartbeat revolves around it, that’s just not the case for our customers. All the internal improvements that we see as completely changing our world are things that they don’t even notice. The business is just a lifeless hole in the wall unless you take the time to get out and do something. Join local professional groups, Host or sponsor events, Find ways to get out of the building, and into the lives of your potential customers. This is where the constant re-evaluation of what your customers do in their free time can really make a difference. People are more likely to support and be a part of businesses that are out there making a difference in their lives. 

One business that has always excelled at this step is McDonalds. Their continuous efforts in building Ronald McDonald houses has blessed the lives of countless families across the nation, mine included. And despite their many flaws as a business, It’s easier to support them when you can clearly see the good they are doing. The way you interact with the environment around you doesn’t have to be as expensive or extensive as the Ronald McDonald House by any means. Anything you can do to prove to the world that you exist, and are alive and well will be a benefit to your business. So get creative!

5. Never Stop Innovating

marketingLast, But certainly not least is to make sure you never stop innovating! Continuously revisit your ideal consumer, and the data you gather. Tweak the details, and redesign both your marketing strategies and the products and services you offer. As long as you keep innovating you will be leading the charge, instead of playing catch up. When we sit back and relax on our previous successes that is the beginning of our future failures. We can find this pattern throughout history time and time again. United States Steel in the 1940’s, in General Motors in the 1970’s, and Intel today. All these companies let themselves get a little bit too comfortable, and were quickly passed up by Nucor, Toyota, And AMD respectively. While there are no one size fits all marketing strategies, I can promise you that if you customize the application of these 5 points to your small business, soon enough, your business just might not be so small anymore. But if you continue to push forward blindly, you and your business will be left behind. Don’t settle for decent results today, Keep striving for improvement day after day! I wish all of you luck in your business endeavors, And if any of you feel that you are ready to move forward with the marketing for your business, please schedule a time to talk with us so we can get into the nitty gritty details on how to bring your business to the next level! 
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