The new year is on our doorsteps, and most small businesses have begun to plan out their marketing strategy for the New Year. The busy period in the run up to Christmas is often followed by a small lull, but then before you know it, 2019 is arrived and you need to be prepared. In the field of marketing, technology and strategies are continuously changing, presenting a fresh challenge for you. How will you adapt what you’re doing to meet the ever-shifting expectations of your customers? It’s a good time to be thinking things through and planning how you will be evolving your offer through the next year. Sometimes getting started can be the hardest part, so these tips will get you thinking about how to make sure next year is a business success.
Start A Loyalty Scheme
As small business owners who often don’t have access to large marketing budgets, it should be your mission to turn your customers into advocates. After all, making a repeat sale costs about a third of gaining a completely new customer. So it makes financial sense to ensure that people who come into contact with you are primed to come back for more. One powerful way of doing this is by creating a customer loyalty scheme. There are many ways to go about it, all centred around surprising and delighting your customer. In its most basic form, you can issue a card with stamps that are given out for each purchase. When a set limit is reached, you can choose to give something – either a free product or service, an add on or a discount. That way, when people are choosing where to go, they will think of the reward waiting for them if they choose your business. This type of loyalty scheme tends to work well for businesses with small, frequent purchases – such as a coffee bar or a beauty salon. If, however, you work in the B2B arena, incentivising customer referrals tends to work better. You can leverage your existing customer base to bring in new business. Set out what you’re going to do, and then make customers aware of it with an email marketing campaign or Point Of Sale items – you could even send out a New Year card with details of the scheme.
Get Meeting And Greeting
In these days of large corporations, the personal touch is increasingly important to customers and is a huge reason to support local, independent businesses over big box retailers. Make the most of this by dedicating time in person to customers. This could either be by hosting a meet-up, some kind of event or attending a specific networking evening. Or example, a DIY retailer could host an evening showing people how to upcycle vintage furniture, using supplies from their store. A nail salon could host a bring your daughter pamper party where daughters can have a manicure alongside their mother. You just have to find something that is appropriate for your business and that allows you to showcase your expertise, and connect with customers face to face. Don’t forget to give them a little something to remember you by – a money off voucher or some branded mugs for your business to further cement the bond. Look at events as an opportunity to increase your network offline, increase awareness of your brand and create positive relationships with your customer – all the better if you ask them to share images on the event on social media as well.
Revolutionise Your Emails
Thought email marketing was dead in the water? It’s back with a bang in 2019 as customers are stating it’s one of their most trusted and preferred channels of communication with businesses they trust. If you’re still sending the same tired old emails, it’s time to think again and perhaps invest in a new email marketing platform which allows you to create dynamic content based on individual customer data. Not only are emails low-cost for your budget, they are also extremely effective when handled right. Great email content is engaging, shareable and highly relevant to that individual. Plan multiple campaigns for different purposes – you can upsell to your existing customer base, promote your loyalty scheme, provide helpful content about new products or services, let people know about offline events or provide a behind the scenes peek at something. The great thing is that you have an instant feedback loop of analytics at your fingertips, so it’s easy to see what your customers are responding well to. A good email marketing plan is highly adaptable, allowing you to respond to trends, current events and data as you go.
Get On Board With AI
If you haven’t already sorted your AI solutions, where have you been? Yes, 2018 was the year that artificial intelligence went mainstream and for 2019 it’s going to be a standard requirement that customers will expect to see you implementing. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning applications are here to stay, and as small problems and issues are resolved they become more workable than ever. Chatbots including Facebook Chatbots are becoming increasingly standard across websites to resolve simple customer service issues while processing tasks are becoming more automated, leading to great efficiencies and savings for small business owners. An area where this technology can really make an impact is in making your marketing more customer-centric. Enhanced trend analysis, better profiling and increasingly sophisticated personalisation strategies are now open to smaller businesses as well, and those who are clever about how they use them will see big returns. Use AI as a way to understand what content your customers are responding to – it could be user generated content, support documents, or marketing videos – and use that information to further personalise their experience and create more customer satisfaction. Digital workflow can also be enhanced when it comes to marketing with AI solutions on board. For example, you can optimise any paid advertising campaigns you may do using intelligent algorithms which analyse campaign performance data in real time and make live adjustments based on those findings. This could be a real driver for enhanced return on investment, as you no longer have to wait until a campaign is played out to make adjustments and use your budget more wisely.
Delighted customers, smart marketing and better use of budget? 2019 could really be your year!