Reposition Your Business
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Prepare for Sales Growth and Profitability
W. Kenneth Yancey Jr.
Day by day, optimism is overtaking the gloom of the recession. Now is the time to seize opportunity and prepare for sales growth and profitability in the coming year.
The Conference Board reported that its index of leading economic indicators rose for a sixth-straight month in September to a two-year high. The mood among entrepreneurs is decidedly upbeat. In a survey by Constant Contact, Inc., an e-mail marketing provider for small businesses, 70% of small businesses expect to finish 2009 with moderate or significant growth.
In the recovery economy, strengthening the value proposition between a company and its customers will be more important than ever. “People will continue to buy things; they’re just being more careful about who they buy from,” observes John Jantsch, author of Duct Tape Marketing and a noted small business expert.
Create Growth Through Customer Focus
Staying close to your customers and continually asking what matters to them is especially important. An increasingly powerful means for building and strengthening customer connections is through social media tools such as blogs, e-mail campaigns, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
Blogs have proven their potency as a marketing tool, boosting Web site visits by 55%, according to a customer survey by small business software developer Hubspot. In addition, 45% of respondents to a BlogHer/iVillage social media survey said that they decided to purchase an item after reading about it on a blog.
Expand Your Reach Without Expanding Your Budget
Constant Contact President and CEO Gail Goodman says that small businesses should find e-mail marketing well suited for an environment in which marketing resources are limited. And don’t forget Twitter. “A small business that is consumer-facing should think of Twitter as advertising in your local free newspaper,” says Guy Kawasaki, managing director of Garage Technology Ventures, an early-stage venture capital firm, and a columnist for Entrepreneur Magazine.
Think New, Not Old
While other, more “conventional” marketing strategies will still have a role in the recovery economy, small businesses should look out for ways to put a new spin on their offerings. Retailers should host special events such as demonstrations and trunk shows and offer rebate programs that will repeatedly bring customers back to their stores, according to retail and luxury marketing behavior expert Pam Danziger. She also advises retailers to makemerchandise appear fresh. “Simply rearranging your merchandise can make a difference because it changes the customer experience.”
Finally, make the most of peer networks, professional groups, and advisors, including SCORE mentors. Surround yourself with people and perspectives that energize you.
More than 12,400 volunteer SCORE counselors in 364 offices nationwide provide free and confidential small business mentoring and training.