The success of small business is vital to any economy, but small businesses are perpetually under fire and their customers under siege – the battle for small business to retain, or gain, new customers has only just begun.
Combine this with the reality that consumers only have so much money to spend every month – and due to the global recession and growing cost of living, their disposable income is shrinking by the minute – it is of critical importance for small business to integrate marketing and loyalty building as fundamental parts of its strategy.
The internet has dramatically changed the outlook for small business and as a result, competition is no longer a local measure – the mere fact that you are reading my online column is proof… should you need any. Businesses are vying for customer attention and prospects’ wallets in every nook and cranny of the World Wide Web, irrespective of their location.
Companies use a single-minded, multiple marketing media attack comprising social networking, online banner ads, promotional mailers, search engines and SMS, to name a few, with a ‘no matter what’ approach to reaching email inboxes, mobile phones, tablets, laptops and desktops.
The one ray of hope possibly resides in people’s support of local is lekker (nice), however, studies have shown this only to be true in communities where businesses respect and support their local custom.
Combine this with the reality that customers now probably have less money than ever, it is imperative for small business to make marketing and loyalty building key focus areas in its business strategy.
Gone are the days of doing things manually – for small business it’s like a kite going into battle with a fighter jet. The biggest challenge? To win the battle for relevance. The first and most important step would be to put to rest the fear of technology and embrace the opportunity to use it to your competitive advantage. Technology – some of which you may already own, like a website and email system – needs to and can work for you, even while you can’t.
Don’t wait or play catch-up, for it may be too little too late. There is no better time than now to re-engage, re-invigorate and re-energise customer relationships; optimize your highest yielding self-owned media channels; differentiate your brand; build and grow customer lists and profiles and communicate relevant and targeted messages that are guaranteed to stimulate repeater and referral business, increase new business and grow customer loyalty.
Change can be scary and difficult. It is very easy to argue it away by “I simply don’t have the time and resources to do this as well”. If you want to stay relevant and successful you have no option but to engage in an active marketing and loyalty plan. The excuse that it’ll take even more of your valuable time, resources and skills is not only a “cop out”, but couldn’t be further from the truth.
Simple, easy-to-use tools and technologies exist with which you can go to your market, saving you time and money to boot.
Over the next few weeks I will be discussing a number of technologies and innovative strategies to help you help your small business to punch above its weight.