NYE Resolutions for Small Business – 5 Marketing Tips
Over the festive season, many small business owners will be taking a well earned break, readying themselves for what they hope will be an even better 2016.
Some will have encountered tough markets this year, others will be celebrating a big year of growth, and for some it will be same same!
I thought for my last post in 2015, that I would share a few tips for these business owners to improve their marketing in the New Year, because as every small business owner knows – you’ll still be thinking about your business even whilst you’re trying to enjoy a break.
1. Next Year, understand your customer better
In our ongoing benchmarking of SME businesses, we still find that less than 20% of businesses have surveyed their customers in the past 12 months. So my new year wish for you is to create and implement a survey of your customers early next year, so you can understand them better than you do now. Ask questions about what you’re doing well, what you need to improve. Find out how likely they are to refer you. Get them to rate you on key things like quality, service, responsiveness. Armed with the results of this survey, you’ll be in a better position to know what you need to do to keep existing customers happy and buying from you for the long term. Survey Monkey is a great tool to use for this, as they have many template surveys on satisfaction and other customer measurements.
2. In 2016, understand your market better
To be successful, you have to be aware of your market and the competition within it. Keep an eye on what your competition are doing – mystery shop them, review their stores, look at their advertising. Review what trends are occurring in your market segment by using a PESTLE Analysis.
The more aware you are of your market, of the competition, and of trends in the market – the more able you will be adapt your business to make the best of any situation.
If you aren’t looking where you are going, you’re likely to get tripped up.
3. Pilot new ways of marketing
Any smart business owner is willing to try new things. If you’re stuck doing the same old marketing because that’s what everyone does. If you’re simply pressing repeat on your media spend. If you’re not measuring what you’re doing, then you are likely to get caught out. Conversely, if you try new things, and set in place methods to measure the return on investment of these pilots, you could discover new and effective ways of getting new customers, or keeping old ones.
Less than 5% of SME’s in our benchmark are measuring their marketing for effectiveness, so you can really set yourself apart by doing pilot programs and measuring the results.
There are so many methods of reaching prospective customers, and so many ways to keep in touch with your existing customers. Sadly, very few SME business owners are trying stuff, or measuring it.
4. Avoid chasing shiny lights!
One of the downsides to the digital, online revolution is the ease with which someone can create some new shiny promotional ‘opportunity’ and dupe SME business owners into thinking it’s the new magic marketing bullet. In our consulting business we constantly get clients saying they’ve received a novel presentation from some online directory or media outlet, promising thousands of customers and dozens of leads just by taking out a ‘cheap’ ‘introductory’ advertising offer.
Advertising should never be judged by being cheap or expensive, it should be judged by being effective or ineffective. Don’t get dispersed by all these new digital or online opportunities. Don’t make decisions on something being cheap.
This doesn’t mean don’t try stuff. But pick a few marketing programs – pilot them all – and put a hard line measurement of ROI across them. Never, ever sign up for long term subscription media opportunities without trialling them for a short period first.
The new market of media opportunities is wide, varied and confusing. Bring knowledge to the mystery by piloting your choices and quickly cancelling any that don’t deliver.
5. Plan, Plan, Plan
In our marketing benchmark of over 800 companies, less than 20% had a written marketing plan. I’ve said it hundreds of times before, and I’ll keep saying it to everyone who will listen.
You can’t build a house without a plan, so how can you possibly think you’re going to run a business without one.
Have a great holiday season everyone.
See you in 2016.