Every so often a small business manages to hit it big. They come upon an idea that is so new and helpful, or a marketing idea that catches fire, and away they go. Sometimes you see them on “Shark Tank” or the Canadian “Dragon’s Den,” closing a big investment deal and wistfully think, “Why not me?”
Of course, some small businesses are bound to hit it big and it could be you, but most are happy to provide a good product or service, and continue on a nice, profitable slow growth trend. There is nothing wrong with that philosophy, but it still takes awareness, engagement and new customers to keep your business growing, even with more conservative growth projections. One question you will notice Sharks asking these entrepreneurs is how they intend to grow their business. If the entrepreneur does not have a solid marketing strategy in place, he or she is often quickly evicted from the Shark Tank.
So what would you tell potential investors about your plans for the future, even if you don’t have an explosive growth objective? If you don’t have a solid plan in place, you will find it hard to grow your company, with or without a Shark’s investment. Here are some strategies that can help propel your business to the next level:
• Brand Yourself: What do you, your business, or your product stand for? If you don’t know, neither do your prospects and customers. What makes you stand out, what do you do better, or why should people do business with you? Boil that down to a concise brand statement, and start including it in all of your communications.
• Tell Your Story: Ever since we were little kids, we loved listening to stories. That did not change when we became adults, just the kind of stories we enjoy. Tell a story about your business. Why did you decide to start it? What are some unique ways you have helped your customers? Or, better yet, find a customer who is willing to help tell your story. Communicate that on your web page, in a video, or via social media, and you’ll start to catch the attention of your prospects.
• Get Used to Google My Business (GMB): We know that everyone uses smartphones and digital devices to find information on potential businesses, especially local ones they want to patronize immediately. One surefire way they are going to access this data is through Google. Fortunately Google has a free service in place, called Google My Business, which helps you provide accurate information about your company. You can create a business profile that includes address, contact information, hours of operation and data that helps prospects find you using Google Search and Maps. You can even post photos and special offers to build your branding proposition and show what makes your business unique.
• Wow Them With Your Website: Perhaps no marketing tool is more underused by small business owners than the humble website. Many look at it as a mere formality, or even a pain. They “slap” one together, put it on the web, go back to their more important tasks, and never look at it again. And that is when the problems begin. Because it has no search engine optimization, it doesn’t appear on Google. Because it has no video, visitors can’t get a sense of the company. Because it has no brand story, it doesn’t engage anyone. And, because it never changes, visitors see no reason to come back again. Do it yourself, or hire someone, but upgrade your website now and keep it current. Be kind to your website, and it will be kind to you.
• Reach Out and Touch: No, you don’t have to sing a song to each customer, or even telephone them, but you do have to keep in touch. Develop a contact strategy that includes email, social media and some direct mail to keep your company top-of-mind.
Don’t wait for the Sharks to tell you how to grow your business. Use these tips to do it yourself and wow their fins off!