1. Update your branding.
Your brand is the face of your business in the world, and both new and existing customers alike respond positively to a fresh face. Updated branding signals to existing customers that your business is thriving and relevant. Use this opportunity to find an angle that separates you from your competitors. Maybe it’s your knowledge of the local community, the personalization your staff provides for your customers, or your business’s values and charitable work.
Whatever you decide to focus on, make it the centerpiece of your marketing and protect it with a trademark. If you don’t want to go it alone, hire a marketing consultant to help you plan and implement your new branding strategy. Similarly, you can hire a creative professional to help you design a professional logo or new marketing materials.
2. Host special events.
Special events give customers a reason to re-engage with your business, and can help with building a community around your business. If appropriate for your business, consider throwing parties for product launches or hosting annual or seasonal events. Even online-only events can still generate interest and drive engagement.
Sweepstakes, such as raffles or guessing games, create an atmosphere of excitement that can drive customers to your store or website. Hosting a contest related to your business, such as to name a product or redesign a logo, can create even more community engagement for minimum cost. These can, however, be legally complex. Be sure to draw up official Sweepstakes Rules or Contest Rules, and reach out to a Rocket Lawyer network attorney to be certain you follow your state and local laws for sweepstakes and contests.
3. Create a customer loyalty program.
Customer loyalty programs offer rewards such as discounts and free products in exchange for repeat purchases within a given period of time. Such rewards encourage customers to return to your business. For example, access to special early-access events can make an enticing reward for a customer loyalty program.
A customer loyalty program can be as simple as “Buy 10 cups of coffee, get 1 free” or as complex as a multi-tiered structure with privileges tied to spending levels. While some businesses now use apps to track purchases, many still rely on old-fashioned punch cards or stamps. Whatever method you choose, be sure to offer extra incentives to customers who refer new customers to your business.
4. Offer discounts.
Increasing revenue by slashing prices may seem counterintuitive, but offering limited-time discounts on new or popular products is a surefire way to pique customers’ interest and increase your volume. Additionally, once a customer is in your store or on your site, they are more likely to buy other products or services, including ones that are not on sale.
Timing a sale right can have a big impact. For example, retail businesses may want to consider scheduling sales around holidays when customers are likely to be looking for gifts, while landscapers may want to consider offering a 4th of July discount for new customers.
5. Be proactive about communication.
Don’t wait for returning customers to reach out to you. Reach out to them first. It can simply be a general update about new products or upcoming sales and events. Many small businesses hire social media influencers to help them reach their target customers.
Whether it is through a customer’s mailbox, inbox, or their social media newsfeed, every time your business captures a customer’s attention, it is an opportunity for engagement and revenue. Social media posts and regular email newsletters provide cheap, easy ways to communicate with clients and customers regularly. If you are too busy to run social media accounts or don’t know the first thing about influencer marketing, you can hire a social media manager to do so for your business. If you do go this route, be sure to draw up a Social Media Marketing Contract.
6. Make it easy to give feedback.
Effective and personalized customer service is one edge small businesses enjoy over their larger competitors. Maximize this advantage by creating prominent, easy ways for customers to provide feedback on their experiences with your business.
In addition to monitoring the feedback you get on online platforms, you can ask your customers directly for feedback. This can help you avoid bad online reviews by giving your business the opportunity to fix a bad experience before an upset customer puts a review online. For example, create an email address devoted to feedback and include it on receipts, social media accounts, and newsletters. Monitor the account daily and take the feedback seriously. Every interaction with a temporarily dissatisfied customer is an opportunity to create a loyal repeat customer by making them feel cared for and heard. Proving that your business promptly addresses any problems increases the odds of customers bringing any issues to you first rather than to the internet at large.
Proactively seeking feedback can also pay off. Following up with first-time customers a few days or a week after their purchase to make sure they are completely satisfied can often lead to repeat business or referrals.
7. Prioritize low-cost, fast delivery.
If your business model requires you to ship products to customers, invest resources in getting your goods to them as quickly and cheaply as possible. Data shows that long shipping times consistently drive customers away from purchasing items they’ve already added to their cart. At the same time, customers don’t like to pay a high surcharge for shipping. Low-cost or even free shipping can dramatically increase both customer retention and sales volume. Adjusting your prices or margins to cover the cost of fast, low-cost shipping can result in a net profit for your business. Once you decide which low-cost, fast shipping options are right for your business, get those commitments in writing from your shipping or fulfillment vendor, then be sure to advertise your new shipping options prominently.
If you have more questions about protecting your business during difficult economic times, reach out to a Rocket Lawyer network attorney for affordable legal advice.
This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.