Are you a small business looking for ways to increase your revenue during COVID? Want to find and keep more customers with limited resources? Here are five steps any small business can take to jump start their marketing now:
Solve for your customer
The first and biggest priority is to make sure you are talking to your customers and getting a clear perspective on what their greatest challenges are right now. To get a pulse on what’s happening
with your customers, draft and send a simple 5-10 question survey to all your customers and prospects. SoGo Survey, Survey Monkey and Google Forms are just a few survey tools that you can use for free.
Take it a step further and tie an incentive to completing the survey. For example, offer a $50 Amazon gift card raffle giveaway when you invite customers to complete your survey to increase your response rate. Your survey questions could include:
- How has coronavirus negatively/positively impacted you or your business?
- What are your biggest challenges right now?
- What do you wish could be easier?
- How do you see your business using our products and services differently in the next year?
In addition to sending a survey, reach out to your top VIP customers and ask they what they need, what you can do to help, and what they are struggling with.
Qualitative interviews combined with quantitative survey data can provide you with the most comprehensive understanding of what’s happening in the marketplace. In no time, you’ll have a gold mine of data that you can dive into to discover challenges, patterns, and opportunities for you to solve for your customer.
Small businesses can quickly pivot and change direction more swiftly than large organizations – allowing you to capitalize on the needs and opportunities your customers have presented to you through your research. Take advantage of one of the largest competitive advantages you have over larger organizations – your flexibility and agility.
Focus on the marketing basics
Good marketing doesn’t require a huge advertising budget to increase exposure. Here are three of the most cost-effective ways any small business can use to grow their business.
Capture Customer Reviews
Now more than ever before consumers do not trust businesses. Consumers are naturally inclined to be skeptical of a company’s claims of being the best in class.
But consumers trust their peers. If another consumer can vouch for the quality and service of an organization, consumers are much more likely to perceive the brand positively and make a purchase. Further, if consumers perceive a brand as being popular among their peers, they are much more likely to purchase from that brand.
You can capitalize on this phenomenon by making sure you have a process to collect online reviews through the most popular customer review platforms – Google, Yelp and Facebook. Set up free accounts with each of these platforms and implement a process where you send an email invitation within 3-5 days after a sale inviting your customer to review your company.
You can do this manually by email or you can purchase access to an automated customer referral platform such as NiceJob, BirdEye and TrustPilot that can send review invitations to your customers on your behalf automatically.
Create a Customer Referral Program
Customer referrals are the cheapest, and highest quality leads your business can acquire.
The cost to advertise on Google and social media channels like Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn will continue to increase, and acquiring leads organically and through your existing customers is the most effective way you can increase your revenue.
Establish a formal customer referral program and incentivize your existing customers for sending you new referrals. You can motivate your customers by offering them an incentive for every lead they send you, or once a new referral deal is won.
Thoroughly consider your incentive and consult your legal team. B2B customer referral incentives should be handled carefully to make sure incentives are ethical. Some examples of effective B2B incentives include store credit for future purchases, discounted pricing on future orders, free shipping, or a company gift basket.
Email marketing may seem like the grandpa of marketing tactics in the era of social media, but the truth is email is still one of the most effective ways to drive revenue.
Why? It is very cheap to send email and the average ROI is 38:1. That means for every $1 you spend on an email marketing campaign, you can receive an average of $38 in return.
The key is to make sure you’re following email marketing best practices so that your email isn’t marked as spam and you’re providing your recipients with value. Only send emails to people who have given you the permission to. In other words – never email a purchased list of leads. Then follow the 4:1 rule. Only send one promotional email for every four emails you send.
Customers want to be educated about a problem they are having that your product or service can solve. Talk to your customers in your emails like they are human. Give them valuable content and information to build trust.
Email marketing is a great way to share additional services or products you offer that they may need. There are a number of marketing automation platforms that you can use to send email safely and affordably including MailChimp, Hubspot and more.
Leverage Social Media
COVID-19 has forced so many of our day to day activities online. More people are shopping and socializing online than ever before.
Seize this opportunity by posting more frequently on your social media channels.
Social media is the great equalizer. Small businesses can compete on the same level as large companies.
If you can, consider advertising on the social channels that most of your customers frequent regularly. You can advertise on Facebook for as little as $1 per day. If you can’t afford to advertise, simply posting on your social channels with content that informs will increase engagement and brand loyalty among your existing customers while also establishing credibility to your prospects and followers.
Make sure you have a healthy mix of content. New product information, company news, new blog posts on industry topics that you’ve written, testimonials, case studies and stories from your customers are some examples of content you can share.
Do everything you can to humanize your brand by including images of people on your team. People respond to people. Most of all be sensitive to your customers. Ask them what they want to hear from you and give it to them. Your customers can be a great source of inspiration about the type of information you should share on your channels.
 The Choice Factor, Richard Shotten, 2018.