When you run a small business, it’s up to you to stay ahead of the curve. Keeping up with trends in your industry (and in the wider world of business) can be challenging when you’re caught up in the day-to-day running of your company. Nevertheless, it’s crucial to be informed and aware of what your customers will be searching for in a modern day business.
In this post, you’ll find ten ways to stay current as a small business. You may not have the mighty budget that companies such as Amazon wield, what you do have, though, is the resilience and resourcefulness to stay relevant and keep your customers happy!
Let’s get started: here are 10 ways to stay current as a small business.
Plan your social media posts ahead of time.
Social media is, of course, one of the cornerstones of modern business success. Some businesses operate almost entirely by posting and advertising their services on Instagram and Facebook.
You are probably already using social media to promote your brand, but one improvement you should be making is to schedule your social media posts in advance. Using apps such as SocialPilot, you can see how your posts will look on your grid and plan them days, weeks, or even months in advance.
Collaborate with other brands.
Collaboration is king in today’s world. There’s no more closed-door, secretive business ownership; in 2021 and beyond, businesses are expected to support each other and collaborate. Especially if you run a small business that serves the local community, the more open you are, the more likable your brand will be.
For example, if you run a local coffee shop serving coffee, light lunches, and cakes, you could collaborate with a local homeless shelter in order to donate uneaten foods to people in need. By collaborating in this way, you are boosting your credibility and making great connections too.
Vary your advertising platforms to boost visibility.
Modern business success is all about variety and visibility. You can’t just be visible in one place, you need to be visible everywhere. By making your business visible on a variety of platforms, you can open it up to a world of new clientele almost immediately.
Some ideas for advertising platforms in 2021 and beyond are:
- Physical advertising, such as banners and signage outside your business and flyers;
- Social media, including promotional posts, giveaways, and competitions;
- PPC advertising to maximize your visibility on search engines;
- SEO-optimized blogs and articles on your website;
- Video content on YouTube and TikTok.
Be the face of your brand.
Gone are the days of faceless, over-professional branding. Small business shoppers in this day and age want to feel as if they really know your brand, its story, and the person behind it all. Don’t be shy – it’s time to become the face of your own brand.
Especially if your business had wholesome beginnings (like most small businesses), your customers want to hear the story! Make sure to add personal touches, such as in-person contact with your customers; wholesome designs such as handwritten labels; your face and story on your social media pages; and how-to videos made by you on your YouTube channel.
Treat your customers like your friends.
Just like your customers want to know more about you and your brand, you should want to get to know your customers. The intrigue of a small business is that a customer feels as if they are making your life better, and contributing positively to the industry within which you work. Your customers should be cherished – there’s room for professionalism, of course, in this relationship – but ultimately they should be treated as trusted friends who are welcome any time, any day.
By establishing a more casual, genuine connection with your customers, you can create an emotional bond that makes your customers feel valued every time they come to your store or shop online. Customer retention isn’t just about cutting great deals, it’s about the atmosphere you create too.
The devil’s in the details…
If you want to stand apart from the crowd (what small business doesn’t?), you will need to pay close attention to the details. The presentation of your products, how they are packaged, and how they are shipped will all compound into an overall image that your customers will take note of when deciding whether to shop with you again in the future.
For example, if you run a small clothing business, you could package your clothes in a standard plastic shipping bag. There’s nothing wrong with that, right? While there’s nothing wrong with taking the easy route, you could think outside of the box and pay closer attention to the details of what you’re doing. For example, instead of a standard plastic shipping bag, you could make unique, recycled cloth bags in which to package your clothing. When the parcel arrives with your customer, not only have they got a fabulous new piece of clothing, but a stylish cloth bag with which they can do what they please!
By having this detail-oriented attitude to your small business, you will come across as more memorable and personable to all your valued customers!
Stay in touch with how your industry is progressing.
The industry you belong to is likely to be shifting rapidly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. You might find that your industry has thrived under the new circumstances, or perhaps it has taken a big hit. In any case, in order to stay current, you need to be up to date.
How to stay up to date with your industry? Sign up for local conferences for small business owners, and subscribe to newsletters from titans in your industry. Make sure you are making a conscious effort to stay ahead of the curve, so you can spot trends as they appear on the horizon, rather than constantly playing catch-up when they have already arrived.
Make efforts to become more sustainable.
Sustainability sells, and it’s the only way to be doing business nowadays. If your company is making real efforts to be more sustainable in the way it runs, your customers will be able to shop with you guilt-free, and are likely to indulge in your products or services more often.
Nobody wants to shop with a small business that isn’t taking the climate crisis seriously – you need to be making practical, documented efforts towards increasing your sustainability as a small business.
Start outsourcing your marketing strategy.
Outsourcing is the new black for small businesses. Although it might seem like an expensive way to spend your marketing budget, through outsourcing you will be accessing a whole company full of marketing experts, with immense resources and lots of time on their hands. Handing your marketing over to a team of experts is a priceless choice to make, because these resources will be at your disposal for a fixed price. It’s as simple as that!
When you start a small business, it can feel like you are constantly playing catch-up, unable to actually enjoy the fruits of your labor. To that, we say: be patient. Your small business will take a while to flourish, but if you keep up to date with your industry and stay focused on being as accessible, visible, and sustainable as possible, it won’t be long before you start seeing results.
If your small business seems to be behind the times, use this guide to help you progress into the present, and spot trends in the future. Before you know it, you’ll be thriving as a contemporary small business!