Small Business Marketing Challenges: Reaching and Keeping Local Customers
Through my experience, and learning from others, I’ve identified three key challenges that face all new business owners, large or small.
Determine your positioning
All businesses, large or small, have to have a position. Your position is who you target, the category you fall into, and the main benefits of your product or service. It’s what makes people choose you over your competitors, and will impact everything you do from a marketing perspective.
Whatever it is, this will be what sets your business apart from others. The position you choose will determine your advertising campaigns - where you advertise, who to, and what the messaging will be etc.
Decide where to focus your marketing and advertising efforts
When it comes to advertising options there are so many, it can be overwhelming. From online to offline, print to digital, radio to TV, desktop to mobile, static to video...which is right for your business? While I can’t answer that for you, what I can do is tell you what I’ve seen from my experience.
The majority of small businesses have an advertising mix that is constantly evolving, based on testing, new technologies, and trends. Not all advertising channels work for every business, or provide the return on investment to be worth the expense. Whereas a national retailer can justify the cost of a TV campaign, that won’t be feasible for a small business with a much more limited budget. Their advertising will be solely local - radio, billboards, online advertising, and mobile.
Consumer behaviour has changed dramatically over the last decade, and it’s important to pay attention to where your customers are spending their time. The answer is probably “on their phone”, and if you aren't there with them, you’re missing out on reaching new customers who wouldn’t otherwise have heard of you. It’s important to ensure your marketing plan is constantly evolving with your customers.
Keep your customers coming back for more
Positioning and advertising are great if they work to bring in new customers. However, it’s down to you to keep them coming back for more by delivering what you promised, and meeting customer expectations. If you’ve positioned and advertised yourself as a high-end nail salon, you’ll probably get customers through the door who are expecting that experience. When you only provide a mediocre experience and don’t live up to your promises, those customers a) won’t come back, and b) might tell their friends (and worse, their social media network) how bad the experience was, compared to their expectations (which you controlled).
Unless you sell online, your customer base is limited by the size of your community and how well you promote your business to visitors to the area. Success is aligned with being able to engage local customers and encourage repeat visits.
At the end of the day, how you choose to position yourself, advertise your business, and keep your customers coming back for more is going to be unique to your situation. It will, however, be constantly changing. Nothing stands still, and with every new generation comes an entirely new way of doing things. Don’t be afraid to test something new. You never know, it could be the missing piece in your marketing puzzle.