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Starting a small business can be an exciting time. But *launching* your business is only one piece of the puzzle. Once you’re up and running, you need to figure out how to best connect with your ideal customers and keep them engaged – this will ensure your business continues to grow.
Whether you’re a newer business or are looking to take things to the next level, check out these 5 ways to grow a small business.
- Start with a marketing plan.
- Expand your digital presence.
- Look for partnership opportunities.
- Experiment with different marketing strategies.
- Tap into your existing customer base.
1. Start with a marketing plan.
Before you take any steps to grow your business, you need a marketing plan – think of this as a road map for your business. Your small business marketing plan should help you get from where you are now (a new venture looking to grow) to where you want to be (a thriving business with tons of customers and revenue), and ensure that every strategy or tactic you employ will help get you there.
Your small business marketing plan should include all the information and details you’ll need to effectively market and grow your business, including:
- your customers. Who is your ideal customer? The more specific you are in who you’re trying to reach with your marketing, the more effective your efforts will be.
- your competitors. Who are your competitors in the market? How are they connecting with your customers? The more you know about the competition, the better equipped you are to position yourself as a preferred alternative.
- Your marketing strategy and goals. What marketing strategies are you going to leverage to connect with your target customers? What are your goals for those strategies? If you’re not clear on what you’re trying to accomplish with your marketing, it’s going to be hard to evaluate whether your strategy is ultimately successful.
Now, keep in mind, your marketing plan can evolve and change over time. But having a plan in place will give you clear direction on how to grow your small business…and ensure that the steps you take are bringing you closer to your goals.
2. Expand your digital presence.
A digital presence is a key element in growing a small business. But for many business owners, digital initiatives took a back seat to building their business in person. So, why not take the time now to re-prioritize your digital strategy? Focus on expanding your digital presence to build relationships, connect with new customers and sell to existing ones.
There are a number of ways to grow a small business presence online – start with this to-do list.
- Optimize your website. Everyone who visits your website is a potential customer. Look for ways to engage these visitors and drive growth for your website. For example, you might start a blog that provides helpful information to your target audience, install AI chatbot software to answer common customer questions or streamline your ecommerce experience.
- Get social. One of the golden rules of marketing is to engage your audience where they already are…and right now, your audience is on social media. Social media can be a great way to connect with new customers and foster relationships – not to mention it’s one of the best ways to grow a small business. Start creating content and having conversations on the platforms your customers use most, and offer your social followers incentives to engage with your business (like exclusive discount codes).
- Try social advertising. Posting on social media channels is a great way to connect with your audience. But if you want to get your brand in front of new customers, social media advertising can be a great way to do it. And because social media advertising platforms (like Facebook ads and Instagram ads) allow you to customize, tailor and target your advertisements, you can ensure that your brand is getting in front of the people who are the most likely to convert to customers.
3. Look for partnership opportunities.
Growing a business can be hard – but luckily, you don’t have to do it alone. Partnering with other businesses that aren’t competitors (but have a similar customer base) can be a great way to grow your small business. You’ll get your brand in front of potential customers and expand your reach.
Let’s say you own an organic juice bar and you’re looking to drive local health enthusiasts into your shop. You might reach out to nearby gyms or fitness centers to see if you could host a pop-up event at their facility, where their clients could sample your product and learn more about your small business. Or, maybe you’re trying to build buzz around your wine subscription service. You might reach out to meal kit companies to see if they’d be open to including a sample (along with a promo code!) in their upcoming boxes so customers can enjoy your wine with their dinner.
When reaching out to potential partners, make sure you demonstrate the values you’d bring to the partnership. What can you offer them (and their customers) that will incentivize them to work with you? Consider a percentage of referral sales, a social media promotion or introductory discount.
Once you’ve formed a partnership, make sure to promote it. You can announce your new venture in an email newsletter, through some in-store signage or with a few social posts. Design a post that reflects both of your brands with VistaCreate.
4. Experiment with different marketing strategies.
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for how to grow a small business. A strategy that helps one business connect with hundreds of new customers might fall flat for another. If you want to effectively grow your business, one of the best things you can do is experiment with different strategies until you find what works for your business and customers.
For example, you might find that your content marketing strategy consistently delivers qualified leads that you’re able to convert into paying customers – but your brochures aren’t delivering the same kind of ROI. Or, maybe you learn that in-person marketing events are driving a ton of new business…but you’re not seeing the same kind of revenue spike after rolling out a new digital ad campaign.
Remember – there’s no single, universal or surefire way to grow your business, so experiment with different marketing strategies until you find what works best.
5. Tap into your existing customer base.
Your existing customers already know what it’s like to work with you, whether that’s through engaging your services or buying your products. And if they’re continuing to do business with you, that means they’re happy with the experience…so, why not tap into your current customer base to grow your business?
Ask your existing customers to refer their friends and family to your business, or encourage them to write reviews on Google or Yelp. Identify your most loyal customers and get them to write a testimonial for your website – or, even better, record a video testimonial you can share across your social channels. Don’t forget to say ‘thank you’ for their help with an incentive, like a free product or discounted service.