Running a small business is clearly different than running a big business, but that doesn't mean that you have to think small. Coca Cola, established in 1886, has been in operation for over 120 years. What can you learn from mega-giants like Coke? Marketing and customer service. If you want to run your small business like a big one, marketing is where to focus. Here's how:
1.Get a Website
Generations ago, people found businesses by utilizing the Yellow Pages, the newspaper and word of mouth. People still use word of mouth, but the phone book and classifieds are a thing of the past. If you want people to find you, you've got to have a fantastic website.
Not only should you create a website, but you should offer potential customers something for visiting or signing up. You may choose to offer new clients a savings coupon, a free consultation, or even offer instructional videos for the use of your products.
2.Jump On Social Media
Studies have shown that more people than not look to social media when searching for a new service provider or shop. The good news for your small business is that it costs nothing but time to get aboard the social networking train. When you do set up a social account, you've got to be prepared to be active. Social media will not work for your small business if you set it up and forget it.
One of the best ways to keep clients and customers returning is communication. Make it easy for your current and potential clients to get in touch with you. Your website should clearly list your email address, phone number and, if you have one open to the public, your physical address. When your customers do contact you, be sure to respond within 24 hours. If potential customers have a question, be sure to reply quickly. If you don't have time to correspond with your clientele, give the task to a trusted employee.
4.The Little Things
Make notes about regular customers and keep them on file. For instance, if you know that a customer is going on vacation, make a note and be sure to ask them how it was the next time they come in. If a regular client has a birthday coming up, have your staff sign a birthday card and pop it in the mail. It's little things like this that will set you apart from your competition.
5.Stay Away From...
While there are things those big businesses do that you should be copying, there are also things that you should stay away from. Skip the expensive advertising and branding. Unless you're planning on going global, these are things that you don't need to waste time with. It's not to say that if your company grows you won't want to look into more elaborate marketing ideas but, for now, concentrate on building your customer base with great products and excellent customer service.
As a small business, it makes sense to take lessons from big businesses without trying to copy them. You don't have big business budget; it's important to concentrate your funds where they'll work for you. Follow the tips above and you'll be running your small business with big business smarts.