This coming Saturday is another one of the American Express sponsored “Small Business Saturday” days where we are all encouraged to shop at local small businesses. To expand on this, I’d like to offer the following small business marketing strategies for those of you who own or consult small businesses.
Review your hours for customer convenience
Recently, I purchased a Groupon for an exterior car detailing from a company about 30 minutes away from my home. After my discounts from Groupon, the price was $5, so I quickly snapped it up after quickly researching the company. What I failed to look at, however, was their hours. Imagine my shock when I called them to schedule and found out that they are only open 8 am to 4 pm Monday through Friday. Luckily, Black Friday is coming up and I’m not driving that day, so it worked out for me. But otherwise, I would have been a very disappointed customer.
So, take the time to do a careful evaluation of your customer base. Who are they? When do they have free time? When do they work? When are they most likely to visit your business? Then take that information and look at your current hours. Are they convenient for the customer? Do they match their schedule as to when they would be most likely to want to visit you? If not, I recommend readjusting your hours. Remember: it’s not about what’s convenient for you, it’s about what’s convenient for them.
Take a good look at your facilities
As I mentioned in my blog post, 5 things that are killing your marketing effectiveness and your business’ reputation, how your facilities look, feel, etc. sends signals to your customers about the performance of your business and whether or not they should come back to your business. If you own a small business, it’s a struggle to keep up your facilities and I know that, but ask friends or family that haven’t been to your business to walk in and give you their first impressions. Some of the changes might cost big money, but some may cost very little. For example, there’s a small business that I have to go into from time to time and I absolutely dread going in there because the entire place reeks of smoke. They have clearly been smoking in there for years because the smell is everywhere. Stopping smoking inside and a good cleaning with a smell-removing agent is inexpensive and would go a long way in encouraging me to come back again.
Think old-fashioned customer service
One of the best things that can be used as an advantage in a small business marketing strategy is a small business’ ability to provide old-fashioned quality customer service. But many small businesses struggle with this. There is another company that I have to frequent often to pick up orders. I’ve been going in at least once per month for three years to this small shop and have been communicating with them via email and phone quite often. Yet, the woman at the front desk still cannot get my name right. She either calls me another name or, if she does get it right, she spells it wrong (my name is Nicole, not Nichole). Take the time to get to know your frequent customers. They are the ones you rely on for consistent purchases and referrals.
Another example of this related to Small Business Saturday was a time when I purposely went to several locally owned jewelry stores looking for a 30 inch stainless steel thin snake-link chain. Many of the stores just said “Sorry, we don’t have anything like that.” One told me it was impossible to make one that long, and one offered to sell me two Pandora chains linked together for over $100. Disappointed, I went home and ordered one off ebay for $13. Imagine what would have happened, however, had one of these retailers offered to special order me one? They would have gained a customer for life. Or, a step further, what if one of these retailers had a policy to write down every time their customers came in and asked for something they didn’t have and then reevaluated their inventory based on sales and those requests?
So, as we approach another Small Business Saturday, take the time to look at your small business marketing strategies and see if they need some changes or additions like those mentioned above to make your business as successful as possible.