Entrepreneurial spirits are strong with new business application requests up nearly 19% in June 2021 as compared to June 2020 (and even higher at a 31.6% increase from June 2019 to June 2020) as reported by the U.S. Census Bureau.
As individuals experience job loss, lay-offs and a need to make changes themselves, small businesses are on the rise. When the competition is hot, how do you compete?
Here are some small business marketing ideas to drive loyalty, engagement and new customers when adding competition to the mix.
1. Demonstrate your value proposition
Your value proposition is the ‘why’ people do business with you; it’s arguably the most important aspect of your marketing copy. It is your promise–the factor that sets your company apart from the competition. A strong value prop shows your customers why they should buy from you (and nowhere else). Setting and demonstrating your value proposition is work–work that puts you ahead of the competition and makes you stand out. Neil Patel’s exercise in developing a strong value proposition starts with a list of who your customers are and what they need/want. From there, think through their pain points, their desires and how your exclusivity (and credibility) can help. It is not a tagline or a slogan; it is a statement that guides messaging, how you interact with customers and the services you provide.
2. Showcase values
Your values help your customers and your employees understand who you are and what you stand for. While you may not talk about these values all the time in customer-facing content, building values true to your brand will guide everything you do. When times get tough, refer back to your values—use them to lead you to new success or to fine-tune the things that may be holding you back.
3. Enhance your customers’ experience
What is the current customer experience and how can you make it better? Customer service, personal touches and customized outreach are so important. Go above and beyond; customers stay true to brands that show they care. Use social media channels to make it easy for them to connect with you, ask questions or send personal requests for information. Your treatment (and response time) of your customers reflects heavily on your brand. To beat the competition, prioritize ongoing assessments of your brand’s customer service and spend time reflecting on what’s working (and what’s not). Zendesk’s 2021 Customer Experience Trends Report notes that the top 5 areas customers care most about are:
- Quick resolutions
- Helpful and empathetic agents
- 24/7 support
- Being able to use preferred channels (it’s not what you are comfortable with, it’s what your customers want to use)
- Proactive support
4. Keep your employees top-of-mind
Just as our customers want open and transparent communication, the same holds true for our employees. As competition (and workload) ramps up, employees need to feel supported. If they start to feel displaced or overwhelmed, it can trickle down to your customers. Establish ongoing communication and check-ins with your team members to ensure you’re supporting their needs as your business grows.
5. Set strategic marketing communication touch points
Even if business is good, even if you are busy, you must continue to build your pipeline. If you stop, you’ll have a rude awakening when revenue dries up. Continue to communicate with prospective customers by showcasing your expertise and your willingness to help and educate. The goal is to keep your business top-of-mind so that when the needs arise, customers will reach out.
Do this in a way that is strategic and make plans to measure results frequently. Think about what your customers need in the short-term and the long-term and produce marketing messaging that support both. What information will help them now as they are in the discovery or awareness stage of their journey?
- Establish consistent social media content across all the channels where you are present; sporadic posts will not build relationships
- Add recurring content to your website such as a blog, downloadable content, informational videos or product demonstrations
- Send out small thank you gifts, emails or personalized social media shout-outs to current customers
- Invite new (or not-yet customers) to participate in virtual events and learning opportunities
Continue to market now so you stay ahead of your competition and continue to build connections. Do not stop marketing when business is at a peak; if you do, your sales funnel will dry up.
6. Be consistent and be true to your brand
There’s a reason I started with your value proposition—it defines who you are and it’s a reminder not only for your customers, but for you and your team as well. While thinking outside the box is encouraged, don’t stretch so far that you move into areas or tactics that make you uncomfortable or that doesn’t fit your brand. Your customers are watching. Authentic brands are what matters—those will win out and thrive.