It’s been 55 years since President John F. Kennedy proclaimed the inaugural Small Business Week. The annual event recognizes the outstanding – and vital – contributions of entrepreneurs and small business owners throughout the country. While this week is an excellent reminder of the past and current accomplishments of the small business community, Small Business Week also serves as an opportunity for savvy small businesses to build toward long-term success.
With the tremendous influx of idea sharing and customer attention focused on small businesses during this important week, there’s a lot to be gained in terms of contributing to the overall success and growth of your business.
Though it can be tempting to direct all of your attention toward capitalizing on increased Small Business Week sales opportunities with short-term strategies – such as offering online discounts or free add-on products or services – there is much more to be gained from Small Business Week than a temporary bump in sales. Your small business will experience greater long-term success by approaching Small Business Week 2018 with an eye toward long-term customer relationship building.
Capturing valuable customer information
Traditionally, the sales process begins by securing and nurturing a customer lead. Once a salesperson has satisfied that customer’s needs with the right product or service, they are likely to make a sale.
Although this is a popular and useful sales strategy, it’s not necessarily where your focus should be during Small Business Week. Instead, take this time as an opportunity to find fresh ways to approach cultivating customer relationships that will last through the rest of the year and beyond.
When closing a sale during Small Business Week, prioritize gathering your customer’s basic information, just as you would when developing a lead. Commit to engaging with your customers to learn more about their current and future needs, challenges and goals. All of this information can be used to develop buyer personas and more accurately target customers for future sales. Make sure you have the right tools in place to capture and organize this vital customer information.
Remember to make a note of what your customers are purchasing, too. There may be opportunities down the road (more on that later!) to follow up with them by offering complimentary products or services.
Small Business Week is the perfect time to start treating each sale or interaction as the beginning of an ongoing customer relationship. That starts with learning everything you can about the people who buy your products and services. If your small business doesn’t make a point of implementing a system to capture important customer details now, you won’t be capitalizing on one of your business’s most important growth assets moving forward – its existing customer base.
You can’t physically be everywhere at once but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a presence and be accessible anywhere, anytime for your customers. Take the opportunity this Small Business Week to connect with other small business owners and exchange ideas about how you might open your business up to customers on the go.
Is your website optimized for mobile to make it easy for consumers to visit, make purchases, troubleshoot and access additional product information? If not, you may be missing out on a valuable sales and relationship building tool both for prospective customers and your existing customers looking to access your products or services online. Keep your ears open during Small Business Week and you may pick up on some helpful tips from fellow small businesses owners, service providers or web design experts for how to best serve your customer base through an optimized mobile-based version of your website.
Additionally, do you have a mobile application designed specifically for the mobile experience? It seems every business has an app these days but that’s no longer enough. If your business offers a mobile application that’s clunky or too difficult to navigate, consider using Small Business Week as an opportunity to evaluate which tools or features should be included on your mobile app and which ones customers will be less inclined to use while on the go. Making this distinction is an important step toward delivering a mobile experience that will ensure high customer satisfaction and pave the way for positive ongoing relationships.
Finally, and perhaps most critically to the development of long-term customer relationships, follow up with your customers – both those who purchase from you during Small Business Week and moving forward. It may sound obvious but Demand Gen reports that just 29 percent of businesses nurture their existing customers beyond the initial purchase. Whether you’ve captured any of the valuable customer data mentioned earlier or not, you can’t establish an ongoing relationship if you don’t pick up the phone, write an email, get in the car or otherwise make an effort to follow up and create an opportunity for an ongoing relationship beyond the initial point of sale.
Let your customers know if there are new products and services they may be interested in based on the customer data you’ve collected. Let them know about updated versions of products they’ve purchased from you previously. And, of course, encourage your customers to reach out to you with any future questions, concerns or needs.
When Small Business Week kicks off April 29, it should serve as more than an acknowledgment of your business’ past success or an opportunity for a short-term increase in revenue. If you approach the event with an eye toward growth, Small Business Week represents an excellent opportunity to focus on building ongoing relationships that will help fuel meaningful growth throughout the year.