Many businesses focus on sales growth as a goal for the coming year. We do this because it is easy to measure and there is no way to misunderstand the directive.
The unspoken goal for the owner is more positive cash flow, not just an increase in sales. As the owner of a small business, you are likely in charge of marketing, branding, sales, setting prices and management. Your staff needs to hear that it is critical to maintain the gross margin while increasing sales. People like to do business with people they know, like and trust. The more visible you are in the community, the more people in the community will buy from you.
This is true in a town of 300, 3000 or 300,000 people. As a quick example, think about your top 10 clients. Chances are you have a relationship with one or more of them. A relationship consists of knowing their name, their business needs and knowing what makes them tick. Chances are you like them as a person, too.
Here are 5 things you can do right now to grow your business:
1. Networking: Make it a point to be visible outside your business. There are many ways to network! There are Chamber Meetings, these are great ways to be visible in your community. Chambers are soft networking connections, there could be competition in the room or in the group. There are groups like BNI (Business Networking International) and Biz to Biz, which are hard networking groups, designed to funnel business between each member of the group. Clearly, hard networking groups are the best place to generate additional sales. There are casual contact networks like community service clubs, church/religious organizations, social media and the like. If you want to grow sales more quickly, be involved outside your business. The more you are visible in the community, the more trust/relationships you are building.
2. Get customers in your store! Temporary signs and banners is the perfect way to get noticed by customers. This is a quick and easy way to gain new clients, especially of you have a visible location. Make sure you have a call to action on your banner such as a sale, new inventory, closeout on old inventory or something else that grabs their attention. Spend the money to have a graphic designer put together the sign/banner. There are way too many signs that are poorly put together and are not effective. They should maintain your brand and have a call to action. Your sign/banner should be temporary and removed after a couple weeks or changed out with a completely different sign. People notice what is new, the same sing up for a couple months will not grab their attention. You can break this rule if your business model is based on transient traffic/clients. If you are on the Las Vegas Strip and selling a yard of margarita, every day is a new crop of potential clients, keep that sign up! Conversely, if you are selling carpet in a strip mall, changing the color, size of sign and the offer frequently will grab the attention of potential clients.
3. Have a sale! Work with your vendors to get special pricing on products your customers want and need. The best way to have a sale is to utilize discounts from your vendors and keep your same gross margin in the product or service. Initially, retail businesses might think that a service has a fixed margin. This is far from the truth, there are a number of fixed costs in service businesses, ask your vendors for discounts on the products used in conjunction with the service. Vendor discounts are not required! Find a reason to have a sale. Memorial Day Sale, Fall Sale, Stock up Sale just to name a few.
4. Start selling your product on the internet. There are many places to sell on the internet: Websites, eBay, Amazon, Etsy, Facebook Market Place, Craigslist and links from your email blasts just to name a few places to sell online. Depending on your product, often sales from your website will yield higher margins. If you are selling on Amazon, there is additional competition and often you are competing on price. When you are selling unique products there is less pricing pressure, therefore Amazon may be a good fit. I recommend at least two internet revenue streams.
5. Email Campaign: Sending emails to your existing clients with a call to action is an excellent way to remind them you have what they need. The ROI (return on investment) with email blasts is through the roof! "That's because done right, it produces phenomenal results. In fact, the ROI for email marketing can be as high as 4400%. That's $44 for every dollar spent on an email marketing campaign." Plan your marketing! Spend time (or delegate) to set goals for your campaign. Carefully decide what your clients want, their price point and your expected ROI. Blindly spending money on marketing without a clear vision or expectation will yield disappointing results. Even William Tell (I'm showing my age) could not shoot the apple off his son's head if he did not know which direction to shoot. When you have a clear target and keep shooting in the same direction, you will hit your mark. Decide what direction you want to shoot in and focus your energy in that direction.
A business coach is a great way to clarify your vision and set a marketing course to grow your sales, increase your free time and improve your business.
Stev Stegner, MBA