Dedicated efforts and risk-taking ability supplement the power of an individual's passion, and lead to an enterprise's creation. A business needs careful nurturing from day one. As the enterprise's central figure, the business owner needs to shoulder the responsibility of running the enterprise in the right direction.
Owners (of small businesses) usually depend on their interest to choose an area of business. Sometimes, enterprises suffer from a lack of direction- this happens due to poor planning and execution.
Typically, owners with a strong sense of planning, good interpersonal skills, and the ability to take risks have higher chances of success in their ventures.
Big issues for a small business
Today’s complex business environment regularly poses various challenges for the owner. The handling of such problems often decides the course and the fate of the business. What are the common challenges before a small enterprise?
- Shortage and timely availability of financial resources.
- Inconsistencies in input materials.
- Finding and retaining the right employee.
- Finding enough customers – the biggest challenge for a small business.
How to catch the attention of business owners?
The marketing environment for small enterprises today is overcrowded with brands and products that fight for customers' attention and space. But often, they find themselves in competition with big brands or national companies.
In the crowded marketplace, how will a small business promote its products? Can small businesses conquer the marketing challenge?
Two types of organisations want to attract the attention of small business owners.
1) Banks or financial companies who want them as clients.
2) Companies (mostly small businesses themselves) in search of customers.
A study of various promotion methods will reveal that companies use promotion channels depending on the type of business they are operating.
But once you look at it broadly, you can identify the same concepts everywhere. Whether companies are in the B2B segment, or direct to consumers as B2C, the primary requirement is the same - to find customers regularly.
Few methods of attracting your customers:
1. Identify your client, or KYC – Know your customer.
The objective of this KYC is to locate and convert a prospect to be your customer.
You need to identify the places where your customers are more likely to be reached (social media, online, mail, or offline). The identification exercise is critical as the focus of promotion will depend on your assumptions. For example, an industrial product customer's likely places are trade journals, online-website, exhibitions, and seminars.
Similarly, it is essential to differentiate your customers based on product usage pattern, frequency of buying, location and other criteria.
A categorised list of customers allows you to approach them with specific messages that increase the effectiveness of both the business and the customer.
- Branding and promoting your product
- Advantage digital
Marketing efforts play an essential role in the success of a small business. Digital marketing analytics allow companies to plan and execute promotions with ease.
Digital tools make it easy for small businesses to invest in detailed research on consumer behaviour. CRM software, for example, can track the performance of your email campaign. It is possible to know the total emails sent, how many have been opened, viewed, link clicked, and the emails that have bounced back.
A website is the first step in creating an identity for your business; it is also the first opportunity to make an impression with your entire audience – customers, suppliers, bankers, competitors or just anybody interested in your business.
Plan straightforward content for your website; provide useful information on your product, services, and the industry. You may also include relevant local information, since the primary market for most small businesses is local. An interesting blog can be part of your strategy. Creativity and an innovative approach does not cost a fortune, but works best in engaging with your customers. Use SEO; this will help in improving the ranking of your website.
The website must be easy to navigate and mobile phone –friendly.
Social media is an important channel of connecting with your customers - use the opportunity to highlight your product and company.
Other channels like Email marketing, Sponsored links, Influencer marketing may be used depending on suitability and cost-benefit analysis.
The key to successful planning is tracking customer behaviour regularly. Customers change with time, and therefore, your planning must in line with the behaviour shifts.
2. Offline still works
Offline channels like word of mouth can still work wonders for a small business. It is easy to spread the right word around for a small brand with mostly a local operation.
Participation in exhibitions is another critical media.
Community participation can be an effective branding exercise. The owner can sponsor local events like a fancy dress competition for children, a football match, and likewise.
Today's market dynamics demand proactive action from businesses. It expects them (a company or a firm) to be prepared for a customer's need for a product/service, even before the requirement comes up formally.
3. Learning from customers
Marketing is about satisfying the needs and demands of the customer.
Feedbacks, complaints, and even casual interactions reveal a great deal about your customers. Since promotion is mostly through digital means today, analytics and customer touchpoints have made the study of customer behaviour simpler. Once you analyse, the inputs do a course correction through the required changes in the strategy.
4. Know your business best
You must have a clear conception of all aspects of your business and industry, from raw materials, to production, to customer service. Provide value in all your communications across all media and adopt a problem-solving approach. Act as the best ambassador of your company.
To conclude, it must be kept in mind that there is no perfect or ideal marketing strategy for any business – success depends on choosing the most suitable one for your type of business, and of course, how it is implemented.
It is also essential for owners to keep the company's overall goal and objective in mind while planning a marketing strategy. Choosing the right strategy becomes more logical when you are clear on the following parameters.
- The buyer persona (or the customer profile) for your product (or service).
- The specific market segment you operate in.
- The activity of your competitors.
- The planned outcome of any communication activity.
- The maximum budget you are committing for each activity.
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Q. How to get more customers for my food cart business?
- You can use social media; Facebook, to start with, for information on your food cart; you may network with a few existing customers and use their positive feedback as a brand-building exercise.
- Get listed on Google my business.
- You can invite food bloggers and local city travel bloggers to cover your stall – many of them may project your stall (as a non-paid promotion).
- Get enlisted with local trade sites.
Q. Is going digital the best way to promote my AC servicing business?
Ans. A good promotion is that which reaches the intended person. You have to keep in mind the profile of an AC owner (who will be your future client); is he /she a follower of social media today? Try out with local listings first, since anyone needing a service may refer to such local guides first.
Q. I am a freelance graphic designer. How can I improve my business?
Ans. You can get enlisted on the relevant trade sites. Besides, you can try to be an associate with website builders who may need designing services regularly. You can explore other digital firms needing regular designing.
Q. I am the owner of a small business- not able to find money to promote my brand. I am managing so far to sell what I produce. Will I face a problem in future?
Ans. Strengthening the brand and taking care of customers are the primary objectives of any business. You are doing fine now, but do you know what your competitors (both existing /new) are doing? Are you sure of realising a fair price for your item? These answers will help you to decide.