“As with any business, if you’re not morphing, and changing, and growing — you don’t have to be growing huge but growing — you’re slowly dying.” – Andrew Martin, owner of Honey Pot Hill Orchards
Scary when you think about it, isn’t it?
If your business isn’t growing, it’s slowly dying.
As a business owner, you’re constantly trying to figure out how to bring new people in and how to retain existing customers and how to improve your marketing. It’s true for new and established businesses.
There’s good news though. A few simple tweaks to your marketing efforts can have major impact on your ability to generate repeat business and find new customers.
Interviewing successful small business owners for the Small Biz Stories podcast, I’ve observed things they’re doing well with their marketing and identified areas for improvement.
Use these three tips to improve your marketing and keep your business growing.
1. Review your current email marketing practices. Make tweaks to improve your marketing.
Ask yourself the following about your email marketing practices:
Are you doing all that you can to collect email addresses online and offline? Email marketing makes it easy to stay in touch with customers, keep your business top of mind, and drive sales. But it only works if you are diligent about asking for the email addresses.
Be honest, can you do a better job collecting emails?
I know. You hate to ask. Keep this in mind: people like to receive email from the businesses they love. Be one of those businesses and have customers coming back again and again.
Are you sending email on a consistent basis (at least once a month)? Consistency is one of the easiest ways to build trust with your prospects and customers. Just ask Pamela about the impact her regularly scheduled blog posts and newsletter have had on her business.
You must set a frequency that makes sense for the nature of your business and that is manageable for you to follow through on.
Stick to it. The every so often, when I get around to it approach won’t give you the best results possible.
Are you making it easy for customers to consume the information you send? At Constant Contact, we’ve found that emails with three or fewer images, about 20 lines of text, and a call to action receive the most engagement. That’s a picture, a paragraph, and a call to action.
When you consider that the majority of emails are now opened on mobile devices, it starts to make more sense. Make it easy for people to scan and consume your content.
At the very least, use the return key to break up dreaded walls of text.
2. Give your customers more stories to share.
Every business has a story. Every product has a story. Yet many owners underestimate the power those stories have on word of mouth for their business.
Think about your own experience as a consumer. How often do you talk with family, friends, and colleagues about what you did over the weekend?
A great experience with a business is often enough to make you rave about it. But think about how much more you have to share when there’s color to add.
Giving people interesting tidbits about your business allows them to take ownership of the stories they share.
For example, when I’m talking about Honey Pot Hill Orchards in Stow, Massachusetts, I’m not just talking about apple picking, cider donuts, and apple salsa — although those are crucial topics. I’m also talking about the rich history of the family business that’s been around since 1926. I’m talking about how Andrew and Chelcie Martin are third and fourth generation farmers who still prune the 24,000 trees by hand.
Or, when it comes to The Cheese Shop in Concord, Massachusetts, I’m talking about the annual cheese parade where a 400-pound wheel of Crucolo cheese is brought in on a horse-drawn wagon, rolled down a red carpet, and sliced in front of spectators, singers, dancers, and town officials from Concord and Scurelle, Italy. I’m also sharing what I’ve learned about each of the cheeses I’ve purchased on that particular trip to the shop.
Stories give your customers the chance to brag. They get to show off their newfound knowledge and feel like the expert.
You have stories, even if you think you don’t. Don’t be afraid to dig in to uncover these stories and share them proudly with your customers.
3. Partner with more non-competitive businesses.
Dawn Noble, owner of La Provence in Rockport, Massachusetts, understands the benefit of partnering with other local businesses:
“Rockport is known as a seasonal town, unfortunately. I am open year-round. A lot of my fellow business owners through Dock Square and Main Street are open year-round, but we still have that stigma that we shut down. It’s tough. We’ve tried to do different promotions, and to promote throughout the summer that yeah, we’re here. We’re here all winter long.”
Dawn overcomes this seasonal problem by creating and participating in events with other local businesses. They promote each other and the Rockport experience.
Kellee Twadelle, owner of Rose & Dove Specialty Gift Shop in North Andover, Massachusetts agrees, “Partnering was probably one of the best things we could have done, because we sort of tapped into different segments of the area.”
Look for local or online business networking groups to find partners so you can extend the reach of your business and continue to grow.
Breathe new life into your business
You know what’s working for your business. The simplest way to grow is to make those things work even better.
Review your email marketing, share your story, and find the right partners to keep your business moving up and to the right.
What simple tweaks have you made to impact your business? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.