Small business owners will be working hard (and longer hours) to offset the effects of the economic downturn. Whereas customers may have flocked to you during the boom, now you need to go that extra mile to keep existing customers happy, and gain some new ones. Here are some top tips from the Bytestart team:
1. Customer Service
Doing good business usually involves working well with people. You need to make an extra effort to keep customers sweet. Be flexible and proactive, and go out of your way to fulfil those more ‘eccentric’ demands from clients.
The main high street names are cutting prices – you can do the same as a small business. Offer discounts, or take more inventive steps to increase customer loyalty – without necessarily cutting prices.
3. Price Matching
It works well for John Lewis, so it can work for you. If three businesses all offer a product or service at the same price, but one of them stands out for delivering a better service, which do you think will get more business? Prospects will also perceive that you offer a better service than your competitors
4. Get a website
If you haven’t already got a business website, get one now. You can be online for under £100, and if you spend time on web marketing activities, you could have access to millions of potential new customers. The key to getting this right is to spend quality time on online marketing – there’s no point having a great looking website if no-one visits.
5. Existing customers
Your best prospects for new business are people who have already bought from you before. Dig out old customer’s email and postal addresses and send them a mailshot, reminding them of why they chose to do business with you before. Offer them an ‘existing customer’ reward or discount to say ‘thank you’ for their custom.
6. Inventive marketing
Even if you are forced to cut back on your marketing budget, there are dozens of ways to publicise your business for pennies – you just need to be inventive. You should take a look at our Top 50 bootstrap marketing tips for inspiration.
7. Capture customer data
You’d be amazed how many small businesses fail to keep accurate customer records. As existing customers are more likely to buy from you than any other group, you should set up a simple database to capture their details if you haven’t already done so. Make sure you comply with data protection rules.
8. Improve your sales conversions
There are a number of things that you can do to improve prospect conversion rates for your business. Firstly, you need to calculate your existing conversion rates, identify your target audience and focus on converting target prospects into sales.
9. Run a competition
Not only will the prospect of winning prizes excite some prospects, but you may also prosper from the publicity a competition generates. As with all marketing ideas, you need to be inventive and think of something original. If you can involve media outlets to plug your business in return for some of your goods / services, this is the ultimate win-win scenario.
With blanket media coverage of the ‘credit crunch’, it might be tempting just to stay in bed and hope it all goes away. Quite the opposite is required. You need to spend extra energy to ensure you profit during the downturn. Above all, be inventive and flexible with the way you run your business, and go out of your way to keep your customers happy.