2020 was a tough year for small businesses. And 2021 doesn’t look much better so far. The “pandemic that shall not be named” has led to 43% of United States businesses temporarily shutting their doors (according to pnas.org). Employment stats don’t look much better: there’s been a 39% downturn during the last 12 months.
With vaccine rollouts looking shaky and governments scrambling to increase spending, the future picture doesn’t look very rosy. But we’re not here to spread FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt), but rather, we want to help spice up your campaigns and lead to growth.
Snail Mail Still Works (Yes, Really!)
Okay, we’re going to start with an oldie but a goodie. It may not be the most exciting or modern option, but there’s a reason why businesses still use snail mail: it works. And these days, it works better than ever.
This is because the return on investment for digital alternatives like mailing lists or Facebook ads are not quite as effective as they used to be. Sure, they still have their place, but the market is slightly oversaturated. People tune out, or have their browsers set up with adblockers.
However, not many people ignore the traditional mailer. In fact, over 90% will open what you send them through the post. Compare that to emails, where your open rate can be as low as single-digit percentages.
We’ll sign this one off with a specific strategy you can use: the thank you card. Just like grandma taught us growing up, the thank you card gives you that warm, fuzzy feeling. It builds human relationships in a world where individuals are numbers or faces on a digital profile.
Embrace (the Right) Social Media Channels
You’ll often hear people say that you absolutely must have a presence in social media. We’re going to be a little contrarian. Going for a spray and pray approach is not going to work. Don’t sign up to every single social media account you can find. This is why:
- You may spread yourself too thin. Do you really have the time or resources to manage Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.? If you don’t have an in-house marketing person, it’s probably not worth it.
- Where do your customers hang out? Maybe it’s just us, but we seriously doubt that people looking for pool installation or new braces will hang out in your Discord channel. Do some market research first, and figure out where your target audience spends their time online.
Leverage Local Business Groups
At most, small business owners tend to look for answers on Google, forums, or Facebook groups. But once again we’re going to point you to an old-school method, local business groups. There’s a wealth of good stuff you can get out of doing this:
- Meet people who operate in your area. There’s no such thing as a universal strategy. What works in one part of the world will most definitely not work in others (just have a look at these international marketing blunders). Having a local edge can help you avoid what won’t work.
- Partnerships. Local business groups are great for marketing and networking. Plenty of joint ventures come about as a result of local business events. Try and see how you can help each other.
- It gets ideas flowing. Getting together with other like-minded business owners will help you get out of your comfort zone, drive ideas forward, and help you look at a problem from a different angle.
This is another low-cost (read: free!) method that can help improve your Google rankings, spread word of mouth, and get new customers through the door. The problem? Most businesses get content marketing completely wrong.
You see, it isn’t about churning out short, meaningless blog posts. But that’s what most people are doing. However, you need to focus on quality content, relevant topics, and stuff that is far better than anything else out there. It needs to be useful, not just a cookie-cutter copy of another piece of content.
We’ll leave you with this: leverage your knowledge, be yourself, and focus on value proposition. Remember what makes you stand out, what your USP is. Don’t be afraid to show people you know what you’re talking about, that you’re an expert in the field. Give value for free, and you’ll see it come right back to you over time.