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How to Grow a Small Business in 2020

Small business employees discuss growth and marketing strategies around table with laptop

Growing a Small Business: Tips for Marketing in 2020

A new year is the perfect time to look for opportunities to improve and expand your business. That said, increasing sales is easier said than done. Particularly if you’re a new business owner, you may be wondering: How do I grow my small business?

Whether you own a hair salon, construction company, accounting firm or any other small business, a well-built-out marketing strategy will help you bolster growth while working within your budget.

Start by examining your marketing strategy: figure out what’s working and what’s not, so you can fill in the gaps. If you’re looking to grow within your target market, expand to new audiences, or achieve other growth goals in 2020, a robust, well-thought-out strategy will help you hit the ground running in the new year.

Here are some of our key marketing strategies for small businesses.

Start with the basics

If you’re starting from scratch, either because your business is new or you’ve never created a formal strategy, it’s important to establish a foundational marketing plan. Start with an honest, thorough assessment of your business and goals. From there, identify your priority audience(s), where they get their information, and your budget. Based on that budget and your business goals (for example, raising awareness of your brand in a new geography or retaining your existing customers), set concrete metrics and a timeline for achieving them.

Gain a better understanding of your customers

It’s your responsibility to stay attuned to your target audience. Even if you’ve been in business for a while, don’t assume you know everything your customers want or need — take some time to dig in by conducting online market research, reading up on industry trends, sending out surveys to get direct customer feedback, or speaking with your existing customers to gain a better understanding of their pain points. Use these insights to direct your marketing and ensure that you are providing a product or service that fulfills your customers’ ever-changing needs.

Polish your online presence

Make sure you’re giving customers as many ways to view and buy your products as possible. Most consumers today expect for businesses to have both a physical and online presence. Even if your business is primarily driven by storefront or in-person sales, having a well-designed, functional website builds credibility for your business and opens more avenues for your customers to reach you. Consider enhancing your company website to make it easier for customers to view your products, read reviews, and make purchases. Take it up another notch by optimizing your website for online search engines (SEO), which can help you increase site traffic and drive sales.

Engage with customers through social media

Make sure you have an active presence on social media — whether it’s through Twitter, Facebook, Yelp, Instagram, LinkedIn or other forums. Social media is not just another venue for you to market your goods and services; it can also help you communicate directly with your customers and gain insight into what they’re saying about your business. This will make it easier to respond quickly and directly to feedback or issues, and provides a personal touch that will help make your customers feel like you value their thoughts.

Offer additional resources

A great way to drive traffic to your website is by offering free, online resources. Consider starting a company blog, podcast, emailed newsletter or YouTube channel to discuss industry-specific news, provide insight into trends, or share relevant how-to guides and tips. By providing your expertise, you can establish leadership within your target market and show customers that you’re here to help them.

Motivate your customers to buy more

A quick way to boost business is to provide sales and seasonal discounts throughout the year. Discounts or coupons can motivate new shoppers to come to your store or existing shoppers to make more purchases, which is ultimately beneficial for your bottom line. For regulars, consider creating a loyalty program that rewards frequent buyers with additional discounts or benefits.

Get inspiration from the competition

Consider auditing how your key competitors approach marketing and which of their strategies have been most successful. Look at what they’re doing differently, whether it’s a robust online presence, a solid referral network, or community partnerships. Start by analyzing their ads, signing up for their newsletters, or checking out the events they’re attending. Purchasing online tools, such as Sprout Social, SEMRush or Buzzsumo, that can do a more in-depth analysis of your competitors’ strategies and their effectiveness can also be a worthwhile investment.

Leverage your network

One of your best resources is your personal network. Don’t be afraid to reach out to old colleagues, other small businesses, or leaders within your community to get advice, ask for referrals, or explore partnerships that are mutually beneficial. Attend local networking and community events, and always keep your business cards on hand. Make sure the relationship remains reciprocal and that you’re not only contacting your network when you need something — reach out occasionally to offer help, provide referrals or just check in.

Look into paid marketing opportunities

While small businesses may be reluctant to pay for additional marketing or advertising services, as the adage goes, sometimes you have to spend money to make money. Look into the return on investment (ROI) of paid opportunities such as Google AdWords, Facebook or Instagram Ads to decide whether they’re worthwhile for your business. There may also be a number of affordable local or trade-specific advertising options that can help you boost your audience reach without breaking the bank.

Consider going green

Businesses of all sizes are increasingly adopting “green” business models or policies to place a focus on sustainability, which can be attractive to customers, partners and employees who hold the same values. Consider ways to make your business more environmentally friendly, such as going paperless, creating products from reusable materials, and developing recycling programs.

Having a well-built-out marketing strategy cannot be underestimated when you’re examining how to grow your small business. Marketing your small business can be difficult when you’re working within a limited budget and balancing a lot of different business priorities. However, by putting customers first, engaging with your community, and keeping up with new trends and technology, you can ensure you’re reaching the widest audience possible and setting your business up for success in 2020.

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