Small Business Survival: Wage War on the Competition with New Marketing IdeasIn these difficult economic times, small businesses are closing their doors everyday. But there are a wealth of low-cost or free marketing possibilities still available to aid small business owners.The low-price offers of big retailers like Target and Walmart on items from clothing to electronics in an effort to dominate the market has forced countless small local retailers to shut down. When small businesses lose the competitive battle against these massive companies, hard-working entrepreneurs lose their shirts and irreplaceable establishments are lost by local communities. I live in a remote community of 10,000 people and I have certainly experienced this. It has been a terrible blow to watch people I know suffer. Our community has lost many businesses near-and-dear to our hearts and we are left with few shopping options.So, how is a small business to make its mark n these difficult times?Business owners who run a physical business location are fighting an uphill battle, particularly if they offer anything which is sold by corporate giants. To carve out their own niche in the marketplace, they need to be well-versed in their product or service, endeavor to be unique in their approach while delivering the finest customer service to attract and retain customers. Certainly a massive undertaking, but one that will pay off.Determine what your large competitors don’t offer: that’s where you, as the small business entrepreneur, can find your niche, or your targeted segment of the marketplace.1. It is clear when visiting chain stores that they do not place value on customer service.
2. Every location looks the same.
3. If they don’t carry what you want, there is nothing they can or will do to help you.Find a better way to serve the market in at least 2 and possibly 3 of these ares.1. Provide the FINEST service possible to your customers. Always keep an employee available in the store or at the register to answer questions. Hire friendly and courteous people to answer incoming calls. Try your best to learn the names of your frequent customers and address them by their name. That’s a great way to endear yourself and your business to your customers and will encourage shopper loyalty!2. Make your location a destination-a pleasant place to visit. Paint a mural inside. Provide free water and cups. If you are in the food business, hand out samples. Isn’t it fun to visit Trader Joes to taste the new food they are sampling each day? Setup a comfortable sitting area for people to relax who have come along with their friends to the store. Set aside a little area of the sales floor for a kids corner with toys and possibly a TV or DVD playing. If your customers’ children are being entertained, they will spend more time at the store and visit your business more often. I personally have chosen to shop at a specific store because my children enjoyed coming and I could look forward to a half hour of uninterrupted alone time to concentrate on what I wanted to buy!3. You are hopefully in the business you are in because you are excited about your product or service and interested in helping others learn more about it. Make yourself available to your customers. Give them tips and suggestions. Display signs that say “if you can’t find what you need, let us know and we’ll order it for you.” Now there is something Walmart and Target can’t provide. A personal touch.How Google & The Web Can Expand Your Reach1. Google is pulling out all the stops to entice small local establishments to develop an internet presence. Sign up to be listed on the Google Local service. If you serve a very specific market niche, your website can jump to the top of the search page for Your Town and your exact product or service. Just this easy-to-execute, low-cost marketing strategy can attract plenty of new shoppers.2. For a minimal cost, get listed on local directories and your city’s Chamber of Commerce website.3. Try getting connected to Angie’s List.4. Make sure your business is listed on Yelp with stellar reviews! Yelp has a great reputation among consumers and is a trusted source for finding local business options. Place a link to your website on Yelp and provide directions so those searching on Yelp can find your location. Ask your loyal customers to write a glowing review for your business. You can even create a promotion or coupon that you email to customers when they write a Yelp review for you.5. Setting up a website and keeping it updated is not hard to do or cost-prohibitive. These days, a professional-looking WordPress page can be created in just a few hours. The only expenses include monthly hosting fees and purchasing a domain name. You can use GoDaddy or NameCheap for these services.6. Once you have your domain and site setup, another way to generate income is through affiliate marketing and adding Google AdWords to your site.7. Your company can build an email list by placing an opt-in box on your site. Use the email list to send promotions, special offers and coupons to your customers. This will promote good will and increase customer loyalty.8. Get online visitors, or traffic. To establish a stronghold on the top of the search engines, you need to get a high-ranking and then stay highly ranked so online surfers will come across your website when searching for your particular niche. Some of the factors for staying at the top of Google and other search engines include: the online age of the site, the total backlinks to your site, the price and relevance of your offerings and how often you update the site’s content.