The business world is constantly changing, but the acceleration of change has dramatically increased over the last three years. Everything from business models to staffing to workflow was shaken up – and marketing is no exception. Small business owners know that no matter how strong their product or service is, they won’t cut through the noise in a crowded environment without solid marketing tactics. However, unlike larger businesses, small businesses have less margin for error regarding marketing. They typically have smaller budgets, one or two marketing people on their team (if that), and more to lose reputation-wise if a marketing move goes wrong. We’re here to help our small business leaders think through tangible marketing ideas that will keep their businesses succeeding without extra hassles. Let’s examine a few.
As we’ve reached 2023, there’s been an increase in the number of channels customers can use to interact with companies. Harvard Business Review cites this increase as 61% of companies reporting increasing the number of channels they now use. B2C leads channel increases, but B2B isn’t far behind.
A vital facet for business leaders to consider is that while there’s the option to expand to new channels, which channels will be most fruitful and keep the brand image intact? For instance, your business could start a text campaign for customers and allow them to text back questions. You should consider whether you will have the staff time to answer these questions and if your customer base prefers texting over phone calls, emails, or your typical communication channels.
Face-to-face (F2F) opportunities are still in demand, even in our digital world. Because the average consumer is exposed to so many advertisements daily, F2F experiences can become more memorable than all the digital clutter. Potential customers/clients may be more likely to remember a F2F conversation they had with someone than a series of ads they saw online.
With in-person events in full swing, many small businesses are embracing trade shows, conventions, and other industry events. These channels are excellent for meeting potential clients and customers and networking with industry experts. While these events require time, money, and travel, they can pay off significantly with the connections made throughout the events.
Another way to lean into F2F experiences is through customer appreciation events. These events could be anything from an informal happy hour or barbecue to a more formal open house function. When planning these events, consider inviting customers, suppliers, employees, community members, and anyone else interested. Don’t discount the power of word-of-mouth – even if a prospect attends an event and doesn’t end up working with your business; if they have a pleasant experience at the event and share that with their friends, you can still get traction from that interaction.
Before you add new channels to your marketing or communication plans, it’s essential to research these channels first. Keeping up with other businesses in your industry or even direct competitors is critical. What are they doing, and what is working for them? How can you do it better?
Even with the increasing number of channels available, it’s vital to remember that only some tracks will fit your business. Regularly researching your customer’s demographics and preferences will help you identify which channels may be worth your time and which may be a wild goose chase.
Social media isn’t just for teenagers and influencers anymore – it’s for businesses of all types. B2C companies can benefit from tapping into e-commerce options on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and more. Social media usage may be less straightforward for B2B companies. Content marketing can be a strategy for B2B companies focusing on industry education. B2B companies may also consider posting organic content showing how the business runs, spotlighting employee achievements, etc. Business owners may be surprised at how many new hires or clients mention seeing the company’s Facebook or LinkedIn page.
In addition to social media, your business’s online presence is vital in a post-COVID world. Social media is one component of your total online presence. Your Google business listing, reviews, website, and more all make up the rest of the pie. Reviews are becoming especially important for small businesses, as many customers are wary of companies without any (or without any recent ones). Your website must also be up-to-date, responsive, and navigable at the bare minimum. Ideally, your website is optimized and includes lead-generating features, but being up-to-date is the foundation.
Our small business leaders know the value of retention. Many marketing efforts focus on attracting new customers or clients. Don’t let your focus on acquisition leave your current customers or clients in the dust. A straightforward way to accomplish this is by setting up a loyalty program. For B2C companies, this can look like free or discounted merchandise after many visits or starting a “points” system where incentives unlock after consistent purchases. Even B2B companies can enjoy the fun with special deals or discounts for long-time clients.
Navigating marketing and communication channels in a post-COVID world is a challenge that takes time, strategy, and money. At The Alexander Group, we coach business owners on running their businesses in line with their vision and exceeding their goals. Our one-on-one coaching will help you reduce stress by balancing your business and personal lives.
Having a group of individuals with similar goals is also vital. Our group of Greater St. Louis area business owners collaborates, discusses everyday issues, and develops dynamic solutions. When business owners pair this with our one-on-one coaching, they set themselves up for success. Contact us today if you’re a business owner ready to commit to improvement!