As of 2016, there were over 28 million small businesses in the United States. This is a staggering figure, backed by statistics collected by the US Small Business Administration. Small businesses make up a whopping 99.7% of US businesses, employing around 48% of the American workforce. This tells us that small businesses make up the backbone of the American economy. However, it also tells us there is plenty of competition.
Staying Ahead – 10 Tactics to See You Through
The digital age has transformed many things, including the way we do business. Marketing and branding functions are two of the most obviously modified aspects of a business. Of course, this does not mean that all of the conventional marketing has become irrelevant. It means that businesses should be spending time and effort on creating a mix of both traditional and digital marketing channels.
I became an Optimum internet packages subscriber for this very reason, like many others. The provider makes efficient use of print, video, and digital tools to attract customers like me. But internet service providers are usually quite a bit larger than your typical small business. It likely has more resources at its disposal to invest in marketing and optimize a better ROI.
Smaller businesses usually have very limited resources to divert to marketing and advertising. That means, as a small business owner, you need to be very smart about what you do to keep ahead of the competition. The following simple marketing tactics may be just the help you need to do this:
- Research Your Competition
- Learn About Your Customers
- Differentiate Your Product
- Mix-Up Your Marketing Efforts
- Aim for Recurring Customers
- Create and Maintain a Brand Image
- Diversify Your Offerings
- Tap into New Markets
- Keep Your Employees Happy
- Be Open to Change
Let’s take a brief look at these tactics below and how they help you stay ahead of the competition.
Research Your Competition
In war, it is prudent to know your enemy, and business is war. Knowing your competition can help you gain an advantage over them and tailor your policies to attract more of their customers. Do your homework, identify your competitors, and learn about their offerings. Look at the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors and their products. Use this knowledge to determine where you can compete with them, and how you can differentiate your business and product from them.
Learn About Your Customers
Knowing your audience is significant for your marketing efforts. You need to be clear about what market segment you want to target. You must also research what their needs, wants, and expectations are. Deliver a product or service that meets these and continue to adapt as customer expectations change.
Differentiate Your Product
Product differentiation is presenting your product to your audience in such a way that it highlights how your product is different. You need to demonstrate how your product offers more value than those of your competitors. Differentiated products allow your specific product to stand out, attracting more customers.
Mix-Up Your Marketing Efforts
It is foolish to think you can create a successful small business by relying on only conventional or digital marketing. Modern businesses make good use of all the sales channels available to them. That includes e-commerce, physical stores, telemarketing, email campaigns, websites, social media ads, product launches, and print media.
Aim for Recurring Customers
Your aim should not be to just cultivate prospects into sales. You need to make an effort to retain every customer you have for recurring transactions. The longer your customer stays with your brand, the more revenue you get in exchange for your offerings. That means your product or service needs to be good, as well as your customer service. Offer an excellent experience to your customers, and they will return for more.
Create and Maintain a Brand Image
Creating and maintaining a solid brand image is what sets you apart from the competition. Everything about your business should be in keeping with the image you want to portray to your audience. That means your website, product, customer service, physical locations, and marketing messages should all convey a consistent image.
Even simple tasks like painting the front of your office premises can help portray a more positive image of your brands. A better brand image means a positive perception in the minds of your audience. This usually translates into more sales, especially if you highlight how your brand offers more value than your competitors do.
Diversify Your Offerings
A small business with a single successful product or service is a high position to find yourself in. However, it should not stop there. If you want to stay ahead of your competition, you need to diversify your product or service offerings. Examine the changing expectations of your customers as well as shifting trends in the market. Using this information, think about what products or services you can offer to offer even more value to your audience.
Keep Your Employees Happy
According to well-known billionaire and philanthropist Richard Branson, the key to a successful business is not happy customers but happy employees. The business magnate believes the more you take care of your employees, the more likely they are to take care of your customers. A competitive salary is not the only concern on a candidate’s mind these days. They are also interested in a pleasant working environment, flexibility, and growth opportunities. Keeping your employees happy reduces employee turnover, saving you the trouble of continually looking for new employees.
Be Open to Change
The final tactic that helps keep businesses ahead of their competition is to be dynamic and open to change. This is especially true for small businesses. Running or managing a business is not like sailing a ship over calm waters with occasional chops. Instead, it is like trying to keep a raft afloat while heading towards the rapids.
The business world has become intensely competitive. At the same time, market trends have begun to shift and change very quickly. As a small business owner, you need to keep an eye on changes in the business arena that affect your brand and adapt to them. A rigid business philosophy is more likely to fail than succeed in modern business.
I prefer Optimum service as an internet provider based on excellent customer experience. So do many other people who subscribe to its services. Yet Optimum is one of the few survivors who have managed to keep their market shares in changing times. Economic downturns, recessions, trade wars, and even embargoes are genuine risks for small and large businesses alike. Staying ahead of the competition is not going to be easy. However, the tactics listed above can help you do it.