WASHINGTON — While focusing on your business is a year-round activity, the beginning of the year is a time when many owners reassess what they’ve done in the past to build for the future. To take advantage of this mindset, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) recently hosted a webinar, “7 New Year’s Resolutions for Your Business,” to help owners get themselves and their business ready for 2023.
The webinar was hosted by Beth Milito, executive director of NFIB’s Small Business Legal Center, and Holly Wade, executive director of the NFIB Research Center.
In Part 1 of this series, we examined how making — or revising — a business plan can allow small-business owners to focus their efforts on what really matters for their company. Today, we’ll continue by looking at how to keep marketing efforts from falling by the wayside, and why some customers might be costing your business more than they bring in.
Create a Marketing Schedule
In the day-to-day activities that dry cleaners and other small business owners must focus their time and attention, activities such as marketing planning often fall by the wayside. Reaching out and engaging customers, however, isn’t a luxury in today’s business environment, though. It’s a necessity.
“Focusing on these efforts and carving out some time in your schedule, I think, is very beneficial,” Wade says, “especially when marketing strategies have changed quite a bit over the last few years and are becoming more sophisticated online.”
The first step in creating a marketing schedule, Wade believes, is focusing your efforts on the right clients. “It’s a good idea to systematically go through and see who are the clients that you want — and who are notthe clients — and then target your market strategies accordingly.”
Asking questions such as why these clients use — or should use — your business, as well as determining what problems they have and how you can solve them, are key in creating a marketing message that will resonate with customers.
Then, once the owner has a clearer view of who their ideal customers are and what they want, he or she can focus on building relationships and getting the word out. Wade says there are four steps that are key to an effective marketing strategy:
- Have a mix of timely, seasonal content — Providing relevant, updated messages can engage the customer more than offering generic, never-changing content.
- Get it on a calendar — It’s easy to neglect marketing efforts, so having a schedule set up in advance ensures that this practice doesn’t get lost in the shuffle and becomes a helpful habit.
- Don’t be afraid to recycle content — “It’s perfectly acceptable to recycle content when appropriate,” Wade says. “You don’t need to be inventive all the time — you don’t need to reinvent the wheel.”
- Consistency is key — Connecting with customers is the ultimate goal, Wade says, and having a consistent marketing message keeps your business at the top of their mind when they need something cleaned.
Review Your Customers
While small businesses never want to chase away customers, there are some who aren’t worth the costs, hassles or headaches it would take to keep them.
“Don’t be afraid to fire your customers,” Milito says. “Take a look at your customers. You want to keep your customers who pay. You want to keep your customers who give you good Yelp reviews. You want your customers to review you online and give you good reviews. But you also have the right to review your customers there. So, you know, take stock of your customers — the beginning of the year is a good time to do it. This also ties in the marketing component, too, if you want to get a fresh batch of customers.
Come back Tuesday for Part 3 of this series, when we’ll look at how to build a plan to maintain your company’s greatest asset — your employees. For Part 1, click HERE.
Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Dave Davis at [email protected].