Influenced by social trends and technological advances, the shifting business landscape can quickly leave small business owners in the dust. Keeping last year’s business strategy as your 2016 model can stagnate your business, leaving you behind on key trends that could potentially boost your customer base and your bottom line. As you wrap up last year’s budget and start stocking up for the new year, adjust your small business strategy to maximize your success in 2016.
Place customer experience above all else
With the Internet and mobile technology governing everyday life, small business reviews and ratings are only a click away. That in mind, ensuring your customers leave your business with a smile is more important than ever. Instead of spending all your energy on marketing, focus on your existing customers, implementing strategies to develop current relationships. One option is to start up an attractive loyalty program. A customer shouldn’t have to visit or buy from you 10 times a month to see the fruits of their loyalty. Opt for smaller, more frequent rewards using the traditional card-and-stamp technique or a mobile app.
Your customers live in a fast-paced world, so show that you value their time by taking care of their needs in record time. For most people, the biggest wait is at the checkout counter. Speed up the checkout process by implementing a cutting-edge payment system that accepts credit and debit cards to decrease time spent counting cash. Purchase a card reader that never requires a second swipe, and upgrade to a faster receipt printer to save a few precious seconds during every transaction.
Focus on social media marketing
Social media is still the hot spot where customers share small business experiences with friends and family. LocalVox predicts Instagram to be one of the top platforms for user engagement in 2016, which is especially useful if your small business has potential for visual marketing. Whether you work with food or handcrafts, hone your efforts on making eye-popping presentations that leave customers dying to pull out their smartphones and snap a photo. To make the most of an Instagram campaign, create an account to share photos with a personalized hashtag, and promote that hashtag on posters or banners in your business.
Is Instagram a bad fit for your business? Migrate to Twitter to share bits of advice along with some popular hashtags, and re-tweet from other users or companies relevant to your industry to build a following. To increase re-tweets from fans, don’t be afraid to add a touch of humor, sarcasm or controversy to your tweet as long as it’s in good taste. Whatever social media platform you focus on, USA Today recommends dedicating at least one hour every two weeks to your campaign to maximize your efforts.
Develop Your digital presence
The digital side of the customer experience gets bigger every year. In 2016, expect your customers to spend even more time on their smartphones. Ensure your business’ website is mobile-friendly, especially if you sell products or services directly from your site, and test it on multiple mobile platforms to see how the screen displays information and images. Consider using an online app builder to transform your site into a mobile app that lets customers access your business with the touch of an icon. Look for an app builder that creates a multi-platform app that works on Android and Apple’s iOS, the two biggest operating systems as of 2015.
With a focus on social media marketing, customer experience and mobile presence, your small business strategy can pave the way to growth and success in the coming year. Don’t forget to infuse your strategy with intrinsic motivation, remembering your long-term goals and reigniting the passion that drove you to start your business in the first place.