A recent survey of small-business owners gives fresh insights into what small-business owners are really thinking—as they reflect on the past five years and anticipate the next five. Learning what your peers are feeling about the business climate and their customers can help inform your marketing approach.
The majority (59 percent) feel it’s harder to run a business today than it was five years ago. It’s no surprise that the economy was the number-one reason why, but respondents also said the ability to keep pace with technology, and more direct competition, have made things more difficult.
While times are tougher, small businesses did share some good news. Of the 30 percent of small businesses that said it’s easier to find customers today compared to five years ago, the majority pointed to more affordable and time-saving marketing tools. The shop local movement is also gaining steam, with more than half saying it was a major reason why their customers support their business, compared to 42 percent who said it mattered to customers five years ago.
So though entrepreneurs are facing plenty of challenges, there are some positives to capitalize on too. Keep the good times going, with these suggestions.
Invest in a free education. If you’re finding it hard to keep pace with new technology tools, like the growing number of social media platforms, take advantage of free online and local workshops. Invest in the training time upfront, and the time- and cost-savings associated with new technology tools will pay dividends.
Take note of what good marketers are doing and learn from them. Subscribe to their newsletters, like them on Facebook, and adapt what they’re doing to your business.
Focus on customer engagement. Get over the idea of trying to amass thousands of fans, followers and subscribers. If you focus your efforts on fully engaging a smaller amount of satisfied customers, they will ultimately become your word-of-mouth marketing team.
To do this successfully, you need to:
- Prioritize quality over quantity.
- Immerse yourself in the top two or three social media circles where the majority of your target audience is hanging out, as opposed to trying to maintain a ubiquitous online presence.
- Actively engage your fans and followers with provocative questions, polls and news that will spark conversations.
- Write newsletters that can be easily viewed on any device and are written in a conversational tone.
- Tout your local roots in your communications, and create a personal in-store experience, to tap into the “buy local” movement.
What Lies Ahead
Today’s small-business owner is optimistic about the future—58 percent said that in five years, they see their business thriving as they sign up new customers and bring on more employees. One of the best ways for you to grow your business is through consistent and engaging marketing tactics that keep you top of mind with your customers.
Read more articles on small-business marketing.