In today’s business world, it is important to stand out —in fact it is the most important thing. Having an excellent product or service are also very vital as well. However, if no one knows about about your business it’s nearly impossible to sell anything. Therefore, it is important to make your business rise above the sea of other business owners offering the same thing that you do.
Here are 13 ways to rock your small business into the spotlight both online and off:
Start a blog
If you have not started a blog yet you need to put it on the top of you ‘To-Do’ list right after you finish reading this post (I’m serious). Having a blog that is constantly updated with quality content is a must for every small business. If you are not a writer hire a professional content writing consultant. Also post images that are relevant to your industry and interesting or aesthetically pleasing. Consider having a v-log (video blog), use your phone to post tutorials or how-to guides or hire a videographer to follow you and your staff around and put together a mini-reality series so that your audience can get some incite on what goes on ‘behind the scenes’ at your business. Whatever you do you must have a blog.
Host a speed networking event
Be the host of a speed networking event. Be sure to invite clients/customers that can benefit, and other business owners within your business community. Speed networking (the business cousin to speed dating) is a fun an effective way for business owners to meet in a controlled setting. If you host the event you will have the opportunity to meet everyone in attendance and you and your business will be remembered.
Create and implement mobile strategy
It is important that mobile device users can find your business on the web. If your website is not compatible for mobile then you are probably losing business to your competitors. According to Harry’s Interactive survey 34 percent of adults made purchases through their smart phones in 2011. The survey also reveals 32 percent of consumers are more likely to visit a store after receiving a marketing text and 38 percent are more likely to visit a brand’s website after receiving a text. Another survey conducted by Pew’s Research Center reveals, 88 percent of adults in the U.S. owned a cellphone as of April 2012, and 55 percent of those cellphone users accessed the Internet with their phones. Incorporate a mobile solution strategy that has a mobile website, mobile app, and text message marketing. By doing so get found online via tablets and mobile phone searches. Also offer deals and other announcements for more traffic to your business location or website.
Apply for (and win) awards
Stand out from the crowd with relevant business awards. Find out about awards that are seeking nominations and apply. Awards can be given out on a local, national, or even international level. If you are in any business/professional associations or organizations see if they have awards that you can apply for. There are many awards that are available such as; Stiletto Woman In Business Awards (SWIBA), The Best and Brightest Companies to Work For, Power 30 Under 30, POW! Awards, MillerCoors Urban Entrepreneur Series, The Stevie Awards, etc. Start applying now to as many as you can so that you can start winning! Awards are great to show your customers, it helps to confirm that they are making the right choice by opting to do business with you.
An easy way to be competitive online is geo-target or localize your business. First thing to do is utilize Get Listed to see if you are listed on poplar search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, Yelp, CitySearch, etc. If you do not show up in one or more of the search engines you can submit your listing right there on the Get Listed website. When you claim and update your listing be sure to add images and video when that option is available as this will aid with SEO. After your business is listed everywhere there other steps that you can take to help localize it:
- Make sure that your address and local phone number are every page of your website and business blog.
- Use location-based keywords, instead of using ‘dentist’ use ‘Atlanta dentist’. Get even more specific by using the town within the city ‘Buckead dentist.
- Encourage customers to review your business on Google, Yelp, Bing, etc. Real reviews make your business more credible to prospective customers and they aid in helping you to rank higher on search engines.
- Guest post and leave comments on other local blogs. Use Google blog search and other blog directories to search for blogs with in your community. Become active by submitting blog posts and leaving comments.
- Become a member at your local Chamber of Commerce. Most Chamber of Commerce’s offer an online business directory with all of their members listed.
- Build links with other local businesses and strategic partners.
Get creative with your business card
One surefire way to stand out and be remembered is with your business card. You can opt for a uniquely shaped card or a different texture. Consider stepping outside of the box having customized water bottles with your business logo and contact information or even personalized candy bars. Items like these make your business more memorable and give you an edge over the competition.
Get involved in the community
Partner with a nonprofit organization and volunteer your time and/or donate a percentage of your profits to a good cause. You can also opt to sponsor a local baseball team or arts program. Getting involved with the community is the right thing to do an it is a great way to put your small business in the spotlight for positive PR opportunities. In addition to the advantages and perks that your business can benefit from, it is wonderful feeling to be able to give back and help your own community.
Create a mail campaign with irresistible offers
Ivana Taylor wrote a very informative post titled, How to Use Postcards as a Marketing Strategy. Ivana explains how small business owners can win by creating a series of irresistible offers that will drive traffic to your storefront and/or website utilizing postcards. She advises that the campaign should take place for at least 6 months. Reading this reminds me of a direct mail campaign that the Buckhead Life Restaurant Group is currently having. I received mail from them inviting me to a specific restaurant with a $25 gift card for me and a guest. If I use this card by the end of July I will receive another $25 gift card to another restaurant for me and a guest for the month of August, and then again in September. For the month of October I will receive another $25 gift card for me and a guest to anyone of the participating restaurants in Buckhead Life Restaurant Group. As the customer I get a fantastic discount (savings of $100) and exposed to various restaurants owned by Buckhead Life Restaurant Group. This campaign is an excellent way to get their target audience into their restaurants (i.e., I’ll be going every month during the campaign and for months to come after the campaign is over). The restaurant group has successfully created a way to make a sale each month from their target audience for at least four months. Create a direct mail campaign with irresistible offer and call to action that will keep them at your physical location or e-commerce site one or more times throughout the month.
Guarantee your products or services
Overcome objections and defeat buyer’s remorse by offering a guarantee. If objectives, deadlines, or other agreements are not met refund your customers money 100%. By guaranteeing your work you are saying to the customer I am the best at what I do, I’ll prove it —and if for some reason I don’t prove it I’ll give you your hard-earned money back.
Make them say ‘WOW’!
One surefire to rock your biz is to come up with ways to make your customers jaws drop while uttering ‘WOW’! Brainstorm unique and original ways to make your customer’s say, ‘WOW’! It is important to get creative and do something that is memorable. Susan Payton recently published a post titled, Why I Give My Clients’ Gifts…On Egg’s Birthday. In the post she details why she gives her clients’ a present on her business’s birthday it is a great read and a fantastic idea. For more ideas to get your creative juices flowing read a post I wrote for Future Simple’s Growth University, The WOW! Factor: 5 Tips to Make Your Customers Say ‘WOW’!. The customers that you WOW will be loyal evangelists to your business for life.
Take the steps to ‘go green’ with your small business. Going green not only saves the environment, it saves money too. It also gives your business a competitive advantage. Appeal to customers that participate in the green movement and perhaps convert a few of your current customers by making the switch.
Join an association that caters to your industry
Join a professional association or organization that caters to your niche. By being an active member you are upholding to a standard or code of ethics in the way you choose to do business (most professional associations and organizations require this). A professional group designation is a great thing to share with customers. Being involved in a niche specific organization also gives you the opportunity to stay on top of industry trends and advancements. There is also the opportunity to network with people within your field.
Observe what your competition is doing and do the opposite!!!
It is impossible to stand out if you are doing the same things as your competitors. Determine what they are not doing and fill in the gaps. For example if your competitors have an active blog community start a video blog (as I mentioned above) using only video instead of images or text to document important things about your business. If they are the rulers of your industry on Facebook, create an interesting Pinterest account for your target audience to follow. Figure out what your competition is missing and service that niche.
Small businesses that blend in with their competition have no competitive advantage and can be easily overlooked. Rock your biz by standing out for all the right reasons. How have you rocked your small biz? Share your small biz diamonds in the comments section below.
Have a successful day!