1. Update your Google My Business listing
81% of shoppers research their intended purchase prior to entering a store. And the first thing that pops up when they search for your product or service? Yup, you guessed it, a Google My Business listing (if you’ve created one, that is.) If you haven’t registered or verified your business yet, head on over to this page that’ll show you how. Not sure what the big fuss is about? According to the search engine: “…verified businesses are twice as likely to be considered reputable”. The statistics for ultimate business success speak for themselves.
Make sure potential customers can find the information that they’re looking for by keeping your business listing up to date with any changes in your trading hours, address, services offered, and Covid-19 precautions.
Top tip: Use your My Business listing as an additional tool to engage with your customers. When someone leaves a review – positive or negative – respond timeously and courteously. This signals to potential shoppers that you’re a legitimate business that cares about your customers, automatically increasing the chance of them choosing you over a competitor.
2. Automate your social media marketing campaigns
Many business owners are of the mistaken belief that marketing automation tools are for digital whizz kids – and while some offerings are complicated and best left to the specialists, tools like Hootsuite or Buffer are easy to use (really), intuitive, and relatively quick to set up.
Manually implementing and evaluating any digital marketing campaign not only takes a good chunk of time, it’s also often a shot-in-the-dark, fingers-crossed exercise if you’re posting haphazard content because…social media! The benefits of automating your social campaigns for business success are myriad, from smart analytics to steer your campaigns in the right direction, to multi-platform scheduling tools. And with a plethora of social media marketing tools on the market, there’s absolutely no reason to waste your time manually posting content.
3. Conduct a customer needs analysis
Your customers are the lifeblood of your business. If you’re not asking them for feedback, chances are high that you’re missing the mark somewhere. Arguably one of the most critical exercises for business success, surveying your customers enables you to determine any gaps, unmet needs, or frustrations. To ensure you’re getting the most out of the exercise, ask specific, yet open-ended questions such as: What do you love about shopping with us? What’s the one thing that annoys or puts you off when you make a purchase? What’s more important to you: price or convenience? And so on. It’s important to remember that customer feedback often differs wildly across your target market, which is why best practice dictates that you collect feedback on an ongoing basis in the form of customer reviews. (This article has some solid advice as to how to go about this crucial task.)
4. Solidify your customer relationships by prioritising customer service
Following on from the point above, customer relationships are the cornerstone of small business success. They’re so important, in fact, that they’re often just as (or more) of a motivating factor when your customers are deciding where to spend their hard-earned rands. A particularly cheerful barista who knows the name of my dog and who starts preparing my oat milk flat white when he sees me park is the sole reason I get my Saturday morning coffee at the cafe down the road. The flat white is pretty average, but the superstar barista and all-round friendly atmosphere are what keep me coming back. In other words, my local coffee spot has got their customer retention strategy waxed.
On the flip side, less than pleasant interactions can turn customers off completely – even if your prices are more competitive or products are superior. I purposefully avoid a set of particularly grumpy cashiers at my local supermarket, willingly driving ten minutes to a competitor store where I’m met with courteous, helpful shop assistants who never fail to put a smile on my face. And I’m not the only one who avoids my local grocery store like the plague: neighbours and friends all steer clear of it too. That’s an awful amount of revenue to lose to due to a factor that’s entirely in the hands of the store’s manager. The point is, customer relationships, and the quality of them, can make or break your success.
Bonus tip: Find ways to strengthen your ties to the local community by joining forces with other small local businesses, hosting community events (Covid-19 consciously, of course), and sponsoring or partaking in community initiatives.
5. Harness the power of user-generated content
I’ve written about the psychological phenomena that is social proof before, but for the uninitiated, here’s the down low: humans are intrinsically ‘herd’ creatures – our survival depends on adapting our behaviour to blend in with those around us. In retail marketing terms, an example of social proof in action is when potential shoppers turn to their peers for recommendations. If a particular product is getting a lot of airtime, say, from a local influencer, shoppers’ interest is piqued due to the fact that someone they admire or trust is using or enjoying a particular product or service. The good news is, you don’t need to shell out thousands to benefit from social proof. Instead, collect user generated content like mentions, posts, photos or any other form of positive feedback. Then, put them to work as testimonials on your website, or as part of your marketing campaigns.
And there you have it – five (relatively) simple exercises that, when done with care, pay off – big time. Here’s to smashing your business goals in 2021 and beyond. 💪