Website, social media, blog. If you're a small business owner, chances are you've already checked off those must have boxes. If you haven't, get those launched and then circle back to continue reading. You're confident you're offering a top-notch product or services for a great value, but how do you build a following, a clientele, in order to get both attention and revenue without breaking the bank to make bank? How do you grow your small business in the digital age? Here's how:
Invest in a stock images account. A small business needs to have a presence on social media via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google+ pages. You need to make your business known every day in a way that is relevant, alternately witty and informative, short, sweet and memorable. Blogging on a regular basis and scheduling daily posts and tweets engages an audience for longer when paired with an image that illustrates your point. By investing in a stock images account, you can ensure you're not infringing on any copyrights of images you have no permission to use, and you also gain access to a huge library of high-resolution images and graphic designs you couldn't replicate on your own. Usually the lowest level membership will allow you to get along fine with more than enough images to suit your purposes, including those that can help you to design images for business promotions and email blasts. This is a modest monthly expense considering you will use it everyday, and you can write it off on your taxes.
Join forces with another business for cross-promotion. Think about what type of promotion you can offer each month that you can time appropriately with relevant events or holidays. It often helps to have a theme or reason to frame your promotion. Maybe your business targets women over the age of 30. May is just around the corner -- why not give moms a discount on your services for the month of May in honor of Mothers Day? Think about other already established businesses in your area that offer services that might be a nice companion to yours, and see if you can develop a cross-promotion, where customers can get two great deals rolled into one. In doing this, you double your efforts to expand your outreach by extending your brand to a whole new network of people and vice versa.
Pitch yourself as the go-to expert. You make and sell custom furniture? You can serve as an interior design expert. You're an independent make-up artist? You can be a beauty expert. You run a tutoring business? You can weigh in on education issues. You run a gym? You can be a fitness expert. Nothing will sell your brand better than you, and if you interview well and are quoted with your name and the title of your business in online newspapers and magazine articles as the go-to professional in your area of expertise, you open your brand up to a wider audience. More importantly, you increase your search engine optimization (SEO), so when someone uses keywords in an online search that apply to what your business offers, yours will come up first or far closer to the top (i.e. on the first page). When traffic drives north, so should the volume of business. As your business proves itself and becomes more financially viable, you can contract the services of an SEO company to help you to increase your digital profile in a saturated market.
Create an enticing lead magnet. Strangers have to be seduced to give up an email address. Think about all those times you've clicked "check out as guest," simply because you didn't want to sign up to receive any spam. What's something really juicy that you can give away to people who sign up to receive your newsletter, promotions or blog posts? An exclusive one-time only discount? Can you offer free 15-minute or 30-minute consultations that if someone takes advantage of could also then lead to a bigger purchase or long-term working relationship? Think outside the box. Ask yourself, "If this were offered this to me, would I give them my email?" If the answer is "yes," give it a try. If it's "no," keep brainstorming.
Offer something tangible in email blasts and newsletters. Make sure that when you write to people, you have something to say. Don't clutter people's inboxes with wishes for a happy and healthy holiday. Think about your inbox -- don't you look longer at the emails with the subject headings offering discounts, and don't you also actually sometimes take advantage of those? Be known as the brand that offers something useful and is respectful of other people's time.
Give back to others to feel good and get something back. If there are local charities hosting events for causes you believe in, see if they have gift bags your business can offer something in -- discounts or free consultations; whatever you can give away that will entice people to act and take advantage of and make more contact with your brand. Be sure to include your logo and all business contact information on whatever you are offering - free pens, gift certificates, whatever it is, think smart and think big!
Depending on your line of business, when in doubt, a rewards program of "Buy 10 and get the 11th free!" always holds allure and is a wonderful way to get started.