Small Business Saturday this weekend is time to shout out about how SMEs are thinking big. Our smaller size gives us the flexibility to offer a friendly, personal service that may be harder to maintain in larger firms, but we don’t want to think small in terms of our ambition and getting the right products for our customers.
But SMEs are up against it. With limited budgets and a busy schedule, it can be difficult to find the time and resources to promote your business. So, to celebrate Small Business Saturday, we’ve pulled together our top tips on raising your profile…
Start with your objectives
Always start by thinking about what you want to achieve. If you have clear, SMART targets, your team can work more effectively to smash them. If you’re participating in Small Business Saturday, ensure that you’re clear on your goals in order to measure its success. With this data, you can assess how to make changes the following year or at your next event to continuously improve your business.
Meet, greet and promotional gifts
Events and networking opportunities are tried and tested ways to promote your small business. However, at busy conferences you need to find a way to cut through the noise and make your brand memorable. Providing something for the audience to take away can be an effective way to do this. Look for good value, high quality merchandise - a poorly produced promotional item could actually have negative effects on your business – and do your research by checking out product reviews on promotional goods websites.
Reward your customers
It is generally thought that it costs around 4 to 10 times as much to acquire a new customer than retain one making a customer retention strategy worth pursuing. First and foremost customer service is a paramount. If you are taking on new or temporary staff to help with seasonal demand, ensure that they are trained to your high customer service standards. Loyalty schemes and exclusive offers can also work well to encourage customers to return.
Being creative is important for small businesses to get their message out there in a cost-effective way. Look to larger brands or other sectors for inspiration. Take for instance, the movie industry, which really knows how to tell a story. At the première of the film, Frank, we provided their marketing team with related branded masks for the audience to wear. This created fantastic photo opportunities, and encouraged people to share via social media. Personalised masks give you added value with the chance to leave a further call to action on the reverse side.
Blog – tell your story
Do you have a blog? It can be an effective way for SMEs to promote themselves and engage their audience. A blog can show brand personality and give an insight into the day-to-day running of your business which is a good way to develop trust. Writing a blog can also start to position you as a thought leader, again building credibility in your business.
Blogs are also an effective way to improve SEO as search engines love regular, fresh content. Links from other reputable, relevant sites to your content can help your website move up the search rankings, and external sites are more likely to link to interesting content on a blog, than your sales pages.
Social media is a cost-effective way for small businesses to reach a wider audience, find out more about their interests and develop leads and brand advocates. Don’t overstretch yourself. Choose the social media networks which are most relevant to your audience and which you can manage. Remember on social media, it’s not all about you. We like to follow the rule of social thirds – a third promotional, a third about other relevant, interesting content and a third conversations.
Add your social media channels to everything including your offline materials, and encourage people to share. Don’t forget to ask for customer reviews as testimonials are an effective way to build trust in your audience and increase sales.
Connect with your local business networks
It makes sense to network with other local business professionals both on and offline to share information and tips. These connections can also help you attract new business. (Remember to take your business cards along!)
Have you tried out any of our tips? We’d love to hear how it’s gone. Tweet us on @printster_uk. If you’re thinking about creating merchandise to promote your company, do get in touch.