A consumer chooses a small business because they believe in the idea of small businesses. Sometimes they think they can get a better deal, but more often than not it’s because they know the service and the relationship will be much better than a national chain establishment. Small business consumers have a tendency of being loyal by nature, but getting them there is going to take a little bit of work.
1) Marketing Your Small Business
How can you attract your customers / clients if they don’t know you exist? Every small business is on a budget, but you need to factor in marketing efforts to your annual budget. If you’re not going to commit doing that, you’re going to put your business in a hard position to succeed. Run an advertisement of some sort, just as long as you do it in the right place. Wondering what place works best for you and your business? See my previous blog post on that very topic, it should help give you an idea.
Get out and put your feet to the pavement. Load your pockets with business cards, stickers, any any other leave-behind material that you can. People love putting faces to names, so get out and do it. Stop worrying about how you’re going to approach it, stop worrying about how you’re going to “pitch” to these people, because you’re not. Don’t pitch to them, don’t sell to them, build a relationship with them. That’s the major key with networking. Show them that you are human. You offer a great product or service, but ultimately you will be working with a real human.
3) Understand your Target Client
You have to know what they want. If you run a wine bar in an upscale neighborhood than you should offer things like discounts on multi-bottle purchases, wine tasting evenings, wine / food pairings, etc. Meanwhile, if you run an automotive repair company maybe you should offer some sort of free inspection, or a great deal on an oil change. Knowing who your clients or customers are is half the battle to figuring out how to make them loyal to your business.
4) Loyalty, Loyalty, Loyalty
Buy X amount of Y and receive Z. Simple equation, right? It’s incredible how many small business owners don’t have this sort of program. A local chocolate / sweets shop near me has a punch card system, and every single time I go in there to buy something I makes sure I have that punch card. It makes me choose them over any other shop in the area. One thing that we do here at Duo is we throw a client appreciation happy hour for our clients once a year. It’s our turn to thank them in person, but it’s also a time to connect with them on a more personal level. This sort of connection has allowed us to create a deeper relationship with our clients and help better serve their needs. Don’t be afraid to run giveaways either. That’s a scary word for many small business owners because our budgets are tight. But, giveaways can be a great way to not only build loyalty, but it’s also a great way to get some user-generated marketing out there. People love a giveaway, and they love to share good giveaways with their friends. It’s a low-risk, high-reward way to get your name out there.
The work never stops. The second you stop putting in the effort is the second your customers hop over to your competitor. You didn’t get into the small business ownership ‘game’ to have a luxury life of ease. You did it because you believed you could do it better than others. You need to find that passion that originally drove you, and light that same fire again. Find your customers, build relationships with them, because that is what’s going to build your customer loyalty.