Did you forget something? In all the excitement of running a business, it’s a dead certainty that something will slip your mind. Otherwise there wouldn’t be such an enormous market for reminders, to-dos, and automated task apps.
One to-do list item that you probably do not need a reminder on is that it's time to grow your business. Scaling up is identified as a top concern for around three-fourths of small business owners. In a new business growth survey from The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB):
- 72% of small business owners said they wanted to expand by hiring new employees, or hiring back lost ones, in the next five years.
- Their two biggest impediments are the large-scale economic uncertainty and the closely related problem of weak sales.
- Over half of those that are concerned about market demand plan to grow by changing their approach to marketing.
In times when top line sales revenues are unreliable, it’s hard to justify the standard investments that traditionally lead to growth, such as:
- Opening a new location
- Licensing what you sell
- Diversifying into other markets, locally or abroad
- Securing a government contract
- Merger and acquisition
There are other SMB growth secrets, though, that you may have dismissed as out-of-date or even completely forgotten. It may also be that these growth strategies are so old school that you weren’t around when they were common. That’s especially true for Gen X and millennial business owners whose have likely spent the majority of their professional lives online.
These 8 forgotten SMB growth secrets can boost your reputation and lift your sales, while giving your brand a unique edge in a crowded market. These tactics don't replace online engagment, but support it.
1. Press #1 to Grow Now
The cold call doesn’t work like it used to, but a warm calling strategy is still essential to growth. LinkedIn recommends using social signals, like interactions on Twitter or blog comments, to trigger an offline engagement with decision-makers. The more channels you watch, the better chance you have of catching those signals. Brush up on phone skills and take the relationship offline. New research concludes that 92% of customers get on a call before making a purchase.
2. Get It in Writing
Believe it or not, people still read magazines and newspapers. Ads and brochures are all considered to be relics of the 20th century. Large companies can reach now reach much wider audiences at lower incremental costs using online Social/Mobile/Local (SML) campaigns. That’s great news for small businesses, because they can excel at local marketing in ways the bigger companies can’t.
3. Create Touchable Branding
Branded T-shirts, glasses, and other simple objects that people use every day is like a permanent reminder ad that keeps you in prime position at the top of the customer’s mind. Remember that referral and increased cart size are far more profitable sources of revenue growth.
4. Try Out Trade Sharing
It’s expensive to buy a booth at a trade show, but the audience there is captive and motivated. Smaller businesses can reach out to partners to share the expense of a booth. If that’s not an option, buy advertisement in the tradeshow guide or dedicate an employee to greeting people on the outskirts of the event.
5. Make It Personal
If you sell a physical item, it’s common to believe that there are enormous costs associated with personalized manufacturing. That’s not true anymore. Customization and personalization is a huge industry so out can outsource the manufacture and the customer interface. Read up on small batch mass customization.
6. Use Your Size Advantage
Big companies have a lot of expensive software that tries to replicate the personalized customer service of a small company. The market leaders succeed, but you can match them by just spending more time with your customers. Companies like Zappos and Rackspace set a new bar and you can ride that wave by just by answering calls and solving problems. Small ad medium sized businesses have a great opportunity to have real conversations with their customers, on the phone and in person.
7. Speak Up for Yourself
You are an authority. As a business owner, you have valuable knowledge that no one else has. You can help others in business and in life. Start by asking about which events need speakers with your local chamber of commerce. Then you can move on to conferences in your region. If you want to start practicing now, let customer and business partners know that you will host a brown bag lunch on business topics once a month. Prospects will come and your relationships will deepen.
8. Lend a Hand
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is the expensive name of volunteering. All you need to do is ask around what your community needs and join the fight to get it done. The connections and publicity will be valuable, but what will be far more valuable in the long run is the polishing of your karma. Growth isn’t all about numbers.
The SMB Landscape
Distinguishing your company from your competitors means doing something different. Look at what is working for other high-growth SMBs in different verticals. The SMB growth secrets you're looking for might be right there in front of you--or even a phone call away.
Spoke is here to help small businesses connect with their customers, solve SMB problems and foster growth. To find out more about how our app-enabled phone system can do great things for your sales, customer service, and morale, get answers at the Spoke FAQ or claim your Free Trial.