Successful small businesses and startups don’t reach a pinnacle of growth by luck alone. The best small business marketers know that success and growth are a result of tactfully implementing the right strategies at the right time. Since these little companies have limited resources and smaller budgets compared to a large enterprise, they have to be more careful in choosing which strategies are worth investing in.
This requires keeping an eye on the horizon for emerging trends, technologies, and strategies that are both affordable and efficient. Sometimes, this is an old plan that’s now much less costly and newly available to the small business budget. Other times, it’s a fresh spin on an old tactic. Or, an entirely new type of content or media channel.
2017 is panning out to be a very exciting year for the small business marketer. With more affordable mobile development and Big Data options becoming available, small businesses are finally going to be able to take advantage of the strategies that larger organizations have proven effective. Other tactics expected to be popular amongst small businesses in 2017 are more diverse content offerings, heavier reliance on competitor data and providing a more valuable customer experience.
Small Business Mobile Apps
Mobile is a topic on every organization’s mind, large or small. Apps present the opportunity for enormous benefits to growing a brand’s customer experience and generating revenue. While big business has already experienced the impact that mobile development can have, smaller companies haven’t been able to afford the thousands of dollars figure out how to build an app. That has changed thanks to affordable app builders and white label reseller programs.
Most small businesses have managed to make their web pages mobile-friendly, but 2017 will be the year they step up to the plate and produce their own app. This means, as a marketer or business owner, you should be immediately brainstorming ideas on how you can leverage mobile and what sort of features your app should have to entice customers to hit download.
Many organizations have done their due diligence and already planned ahead for the design of their app. They’re patiently waiting to make a decision to develop it themselves or use one of the best app makers to build it. This means, if you haven’t done any pre-planning, you’re already behind on the primary growth strategy of 2017.
Self-Service Analytics Solutions
Aside from mobile apps, the other big buzzwords on the minds of marketers and business leaders is Big Data and analytics software. These tools have allowed large companies to utilize their past and present data to discover valuable insights into the minds of consumers and ultimately make better, more data-informed decisions. Thanks to emerging, low-cost, self-service analytics solutions, companies can handle their own analysis projects, instead of needing to hire a trained data scientist.
Data analytics has the potential to be extremely helpful to small businesses. As aforementioned, one of the unique challenges of marketing for these companies is their budget or lack thereof. This means they have to be even more accurate with their decisions, especially concerning how to invest their budget. Adopting a data-informed approach to decision making takes a lot of the guesswork out of the equation and can help ensure that the right choices are made more frequently.
Seamless Customer Experience
The small business marketplace is a particularly competitive one. With more and more companies popping up each day, your pool of competitors grows and thereby makes it harder to stand out. One of the biggest competitive differentiators has become the customer experience. With more options to choose from than ever before, consumers are beginning to assign their brand loyalty based on what value the brand has to give, rather than just the products and services they offer.
Value, regarding the customer experience, can include a number of things. The most common example is blogs and other written content, which is valuable, free information. Value can also be the inclusion of a mobile app, an incredibly compelling social media persona, superb customer service and more. The very best customer experiences are often the ones that offer something no one else does, so get creative when thinking about ways to impart value on your audiences and enhance their experience with your brand.
Diverse Content Offerings
You would be hard pressed to find a company today that isn’t producing blogs, social media posts, or some form of content. What is rarer to see, however, is a brand with a very diverse content campaign. Instead of only supplying written blogs and articles, like most companies, they leverage less common types of content, like quizzes, puzzles, infographics and more. Many of these content types produce significant returns, regarding customer engagement, and allow your brand to stand out even more.
Offering diverse content keeps the customer interested and entices them to come back and see what kind of content updates you’ve made. Some unique content types are excellent at converting because they subtly encourage a customer to make a purchase, without making a direct sell attempt. For example, picture a pest control company that produces a quiz ‘How Pest-Friendly is Your Home?’ which asks questions about how often the customer cleans, takes out the trash, etc. At the conclusion of the quiz, they get a grade. If that grade falls below their expectations, they will reach the conclusion that their house might not be as free of pests as they thought. Suddenly, giving this pest control company a call is very appealing.
Viewing Competitors as a Resource, not a Detriment
Ideally, we’d like to be the only game in town and operate without fear of losing customers to competitors. It may be hard to view your marketplace adversaries as a positive, but you can stand to learn a lot from how they approach their own marketing efforts. Need inspiration for a new blog post? Look at the content that your competitors are producing. The same can be said about building a mobile app, planning a content calendar, enhancing the customer experience and more.
The danger of leveraging your competitors for inspiration is accidentally copying their efforts too closely. Not only will this appear lazy, but the tone and voice won’t match your brand and, ultimately, will damage your customer experience. Instead, use their data to compare and contrast your own strategies against theirs. This will help you target the areas that need the most improvement and also discover content types and strategies that no competitors are utilizing. This can present an opportunity to produce an experience, unlike any others.
All of the above strategies are important and will lead to improved growth rates for small businesses. That said, your immediate focus should be on mobile development, especially if you have little or no plans with regards to building a small business app. Mobile will be the most impactful strategy for small businesses and failing to meet the consumer desire for brand apps could spell catastrophe. Creating an app will have a rippling effect on the other strategies listed; it will greatly enhance your customer experience, create a new source for data, allow you to utilize more content types and much, much more.