In America, it might seem surprising that in a county and indeed the world, where consumers are apparently addicted to Amazon and Starbucks, small businesses reign supreme.
Statistics show that 99.9 per cent of American companies are considered small businesses and that there are roughly 30 million of them in the country. It’s a competitive environment, but it’s not impossible to break through and become a standout player in your category.
In operating a business, what you need to be mindful of, is businesses do fail, and in America, one in twelve fail every year. Why? Well, we believe it’s mostly due to lacklustre marketing, difficulty with time management, or overblown expectations.
Therefore we have some straightforward strategies you can use to increase your chances of breakthrough success during the next fiscal year and beyond.
Use social media to your advantage
Studies show that millennials not only window-shop on their screens, but they actually make purchases based on influencer marketing and advertising they see on social media. Most will admit to being influenced by what they see on their favourite platforms, whether it’s due to a celebrity endorsement, an influencer’s paid post, or a sponsored ad.
Using Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook effectively is necessary to make a dent in the millennial market, especially if you are in the e-commerce industry. Hire a top-notch graphic designer and product photographer to curate captivating images that will lure in potential customers, and keep existing ones intrigued by posting consistently.
Use color psychology
It has long been known that the principles of colour psychology influence buyers, so much so that banks use royal purple and indigo in their interior decor almost universally. These are shades that have been scientifically proven to encourage people to spend more money. If you go deeper down the rabbit hole, you will find that dark colours, in general, disorient people, making them more likely to buy.
A decade ago, Hollister infamously kept their stores dimly lit with music blasting in order to manipulate customers into making impulse purchases. While we don’t recommend using this level of psychological warfare to get your customers to click “add to cart,” whether you have a brick-and-mortar retail store or an online store, aesthetics are undeniably important. They can and do influence how willing someone will be to buy, even if they only intended to browse.
Talk to your customers
Customers like to feel as though they’re being heard. Everyone has an inherent right to respect and dignity, and your customers are far more likely to be loyal to you if you are present and reliable when they need you the most. In particular, small businesses rely on these interpersonal connections.
A small but substantial way to encourage dialogue between customers and yourself is by putting a contact form on your website. You can also hire a social media manager to handle Instagram DMs, emails, and other direct communication in real-time. For businesses experiencing mid-size growth, a cloud-based call centre is an excellent way to facilitate seamless communication across multiple channels while still keeping that family-owned business ‘feel’ to your company.
Engage with influencers
Brand partnerships and sponsored campaigns with social media influencers is arguably the best way to widen your reach to the Gen Z market. They are now old enough to be shopping out of their own wallets rather than their parents’, and they are notorious for taking cues from their favourite influencers.
Partnerships can be as simple as a branded post or as lavish as a summer party in the Hamptons, like influencer-friendly clothing brand Revolve has done for the past several years. Research influencers whose brand is in line with yours, and approach them to see if they might be interested in a collaboration.
Have sales and promotions
Black Friday, Christmas, Memorial Day, and every holiday in between is a potential chance for a small business to get their name out there. By marking down prices or offering discount codes on your online store, you are likely to catch the attention of new customers and entice old ones to buy the product they’ve been hesitating to order.
Everyone loves a good deal, but anything less than 15 per cent is unlikely to sound too exciting to the really savvy shopper. Discounts and promotions are significant, especially at a time when many young professionals are counting every dollar.
Small businesses may seem to have it tough, but with the careful execution of the fundamentals like marketing and remaining focussed on consistency, any business can shine and enjoy ongoing success.