Owning your own business is part of the American Dream. If you are successful, you can attain a measure of financial freedom and create a legacy to leave behind to your family and the world. Even if you’re not successful, you may take the lesson and start with another business.
But starting a business and turning it into a successful enterprise may be one of the hardest things you ever do. Even if you have a great product, it won’t matter if no one actually knows about it. You have to find a way to stand out from your competition so that you get noticed and attract customers. Here are a few ways you can do that:
Create an Inviting Customer Space
Though more and more businesses are operating online, customers still trust those that have a physical location more. Even if you only have a small office with a receptionist who answers customer questions, you will make a bigger impression on customers and build your authority.
Just make sure that space is inviting and professional. Money can be hard to come by when you are running a small business, but financing is available.
Provide Excellent Customer Service
Most niches are saturated with competitors. They mostly offer the same products at around the same price point—the market dynamics ensure that they do.
Unless you get some dynamite deal at wholesale, you won’t be able to undercut your competitors, and unless you find some supplier that no one else knows about, you won’t have vastly different products. The one way you can stand out is in the service you offer.
People remember the service they get more than the quality of the product in most cases. If you go above and beyond for your customers, they are going to remember it. Return calls and emails quickly, follow-up on concerns, resolve problems to the customer’s satisfaction, and apologize when you make an error. Personalize your service by calling customers by their names and learning everything you can about them.
Get Involved in the Community
Community participation shows that you care about the people in the area beyond how much money you can make from them. Volunteer in your community, take part in festivals and sponsor events. Not only will you get your name in front of more customers, but you will also build goodwill.
Give back to your community as much as you can. Host blood drives, food drives, clothing drives, and more. Volunteer at local soup kitchens, and sponsor needy families at Christmas. Customers will support businesses that support their community.
Develop a Great Marketing Strategy
People shop with the businesses that they know about—and the best way to make sure that people know about your business is to develop a smart marketing strategy.
Marketing includes traditional tools like television and radio commercials, print ads, and billboards as well as online marketing tools like search engine optimization, content marketing, social media marketing, videos, and all types of advertising.
Trying to create a successful marketing strategy is a bit too much for most people to attempt on their own. It’s important that you hire a professional who can advise you on the best strategy to get you the most return on your limited budget. You can always start small and expand your campaign later.
Build Business Partnerships
Other businesses can be your best allies in reaching your customers. You may not have a huge marketing budget or great brand awareness, but you can hook up with a business that does.
It’s best to work with a business that is not your direct competitor but that is related to your niche. For example, if you sell nursing scrubs, you can partner with the local hospital or other health care providers.
Brainstorm to identify potential partners and the type of relationship you want to propose. Your partnership might be as simple as offering discounts to the business and its workers or it might involve developing a product or service together. The bigger the business that you can entice to be a partner, the more benefit you will get from the partnership.
If your business isn’t performing the way you would like it to, it may be time to re-evaluate your position and find ways to stand out from your competitors. Gaining that visibility may be all you need to get more customers and drive more sales. Try out some of these strategies to turn your business around.