Build a Company That Has Something to Lose: 5 Simple and Cost-Effective Techniques Small Business Owners Should Use
Increasing reach doesn't have to be complicated.
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One of the key issues I hear consistently from my small business clients, especially the ones whose customer acquisition strategies focus on the B2B customer segment, is how difficult it is to acquire customers because of their size. The rub for them is that a lot of businesses view their operation as small, and are not confident in their ability to deliver a product or service of comparable quality to a larger, more established business.
Usually, businesses that find themselves in this predicament look for help after they've tried a discounted pricing model. At first, it seems to work great. But over time, they find that customer growth isn't large enough or consistent enough to justify the steep discounts in pricing. A good majority of these businesses have a great product or service — the business owner just hasn't done enough to instill the confidence needed in the business.
Here is some food for thought: No one wants to deal with a person or business they feel has nothing to lose. By employing a little bit of ingenuity, you can change the trajectory of your business and have the opportunity to grow a solid, trusted brand. Here are five ways that small businesses can increase their reach and magnify their presence.
Develop a professional, quality website
In today's technology-centric world, the trust of your company will, often, start with a prospective customer visiting your business's website. What will the prospective customer find when they get there? If the answer is a website powered by cheap software, stock images and little meaningful content, the prospect will simply click away and find what they need somewhere else. There is no confidence in a poorly thought-out, cheap-looking website. First impressions are everything in life and in business.
It always amazes me how many small businesses make this mistake because they were trying to save money and thought the money could best be used somewhere else (often, that somewhere else is an even worse deployment of capital.) One of the most important places to spend as a startup is on your website. It is where prospective customer will likely go first, and it is here that confidence and trust will begin to be established or destroyed. For most start-up businesses today, their website will likely be the start and end of the customer's transaction lifecycle. If the site is poorly done, how can you expect a prospective customer to feel comfortable entering sensitive data there? Would you?
Related: Launching a Website? Here Are 5 Common Intellectual Property Pitfalls to Avoid.
Invest in shared office space
Never underestimate a prospective customer's willingness to check out the details of your company before they spend money with you. It is easy to take the address listed on a company's website and search it on Google. It isn't a good thing if your home shows up once the Google search is complete.
Ever heard of WeWork, Regus or Industrious? All of these companies and a host of others provide cost-effective solutions for small businesses when it comes to their office space needs. Some of these companies even have a mailbox option that allows you to use their address as your official business address, receive mail there and have it forwarded to your desired destination (for a small fee.) Even large businesses are using shared office spaces to house some of their staff.
Harness the power of automation
Being a small business owner is demanding and requires you to wear many hats. You have to be the CEO, accountant, marketing director, customer service agent and quality assurance specialist among other roles. It can be overwhelming and cause you to miss small, critical things that are vital in acquiring and retaining customers.
This is where email automation comes in. Using tools like MailChimp, AutomateWoo and Optinmonster can be a great way to create interactive forms that provide customized, automatic email responses to your customers. You can also use these services to offer automated coupon offerings, surveys, review requests and to build email lists.
Related: Automation Is Becoming a Business Imperative: Don't Wait Until It's Too Late
Use social media
Social media brings the world into the palm of your hand. Using social media properly not only broadens your reach, which allows for a wider prospective customer base, but it is a cost-effective way for you to showcase your products or services.
By using these platforms to display your depth of knowledge in your field of expertise, social media can build brand credibility and trust.
Encourage customer reviews
Nothing boosts the credibility of a business's products or services more than customer reviews. In an age where Google is only a thumb tap away, the vast majority of prospective customers will look up a business, product or service to read what others say about it. Encourage reviews by sending customers automated emails asking them to review your product or service. Reward them for doing so by providing them discounts and perks on future purchases, which will also help with customer loyalty and retention. Make it easy to leave a review by providing a link to your product review page in your automated emails. Limit reviews to those who have actually purchased the product, as verified purchaser reviews are much more credible.
Due to the power of customer reviews, especially for small businesses, some business owners try to create their own reviews in an effort to boost their brand value and credibility. These types of reviews are generally pretty obvious to sniff out, especially if they use stock photo images. Google actually has a software product called Google Lens, which can easily detect a stock image and show other places on the internet where it appears. Simply put: Don't do it.
Employing these simple, cost-effective methods in your business can have a substantial impact on your ability to gain new customers and grow your business.
Related: Here's How to Get Your Customers to Leave Positive Reviews (And Why You Can't Afford Not To)