But what to do if your business isn’t keeping pace with your plans? Here’s some inspiration to help get your business moving again.
Pull together a SWOT team
In business, it pays to work out what you’re good at (and not so good at) to focus on opportunities that are most suitable for you to pursue. Doing a SWOT analysis is the best way to figure this out. Encourage business partners and staff to join in where possible, as you might discover that others are better at identifying your biz strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats than you. For example, loyal customers may be a strength, and poor cash flow a weakness. An opportunity may be expanding your products or services, while a threat may be a new competitor on your turf. Once you have completed your SWOT analysis, you can prioritise what helps you get momentum. Learn more in How to Conduct a SWOT Analysis.
Find your promotional hook
If it’s short-term sales that you’re after, and that alone, identify what has hooked your customers on your most popular products and services in the past. Do sales spike on discounting, and at percentage does that become material? Or do free gifts with purchase do one better? How you advertise your promotion will depend on how you currently communicate with your customers. If you collect email addresses, you could promote your offer through email. If you tend to focus more on social media, then you could get the word out through this channel.
Refocus on repeat business
You can have the best products and offer the best services in the world, but, at some point, your market could start to peak. What do you do when you are struggling to attract more customers? Repeat after us, ‘build repeat business’. According to Bain & Co, a 5 per cent increase in customer retention can increase profitability by up to 75 per cent. These days, customer experience simply means the contact between you and your customer. This includes how customers discover and research your business, then buy and use your products or services. Satisfied customers are more likely to recommend you to others. Research by McKinsey revealed that 20 to 50 per cent of purchasing decisions are primarily based on word-of-mouth recommendations. Get the details in What Is Customer Experience and How Can You Improve It?
Stay top of mind
The old saying ‘out of sight, out of mind’ applies in business too. You know how it is. When people don’t hear from you, it’s easy for them to forget about you and go somewhere else. If you’re worried that’s happening, consider creating and sending an email newsletter, connecting and posting on social media platforms, or simply making a call to say ‘Hi’. Whatever you choose to do, a customer relationship management system (CRM) will increase your effectiveness, and it won’t cost you an arm and a leg – check out HubSpot CRM.
Develop cross-promotion marketing
Cross-promotion marketing is like a B2B version of the sharing economy. With cross-promotion marketing, you collaborate with complementary businesses to promote each other. A carpenter, electrician, plumber and plasterer walk into a bar… oops, wait, promote each other’s businesses through word of mouth. This could also apply to a lawyer, financial planner, accountant and insurance broker who refer each other to their clients. In professional services, this might include holding a joint seminar and inviting clients. As well as highlighting your expertise, you will get in front of a new set of potential customers.
Zero in on that niche
It has been said, ‘there are riches in niches’. For some, that rhymes, for others, it doesn’t. It doesn’t matter. All that matters is that you develop the right products and services to fit your niche. Focusing on a niche will also enable you to narrow your marketing efforts and do more with less. That way you avoid trying to be all things to all people. For example, if you sell shoes online, you can sell all types of shoes – women’s, men’s, children’s. An example of a niche is selling a range of shoes that suit nurses. Nurses are on their feet all day and need comfortable shoes that are solid enough to protect against needle stick injury. By choosing this niche, you can focus your marketing online to cater to this market. This can include creating informative content designed to help consumers in your niche.
Get business finance
Cash flow helps you capitalise on opportunities in business. When a business is short on cash, the focus turns to survival instead of growth. Cash flow can fluctuate throughout the year, with February traditionally a month where business owners grapple more with cash flow problems than other months. Research from Xero shows that 49.44 per cent of businesses were cash flow positive in February 2019, below the trend line average of 52.21 per cent.
Whether it’s the cash flow dip, you’d like to spend more on marketing, or you’re after capital to purchase inventory, machinery or equipment, a range of small business finance options may be available to suit your needs and goals.