This article will present you fast and easy to implement the best modern ways to boost your small business’ sales today. This method is highly customizable and very well working for all kind of companies – from coffee shops and clothes stores to restaurants and service companies. Keep in mind this is a practical approach to the topic and not just some general theoretical stuff. If you have any doubts whether it is a good solution for your business just contact me and I would love to help you.
1. Increase small business sales by augmenting the customers’ velocity of a purchase
In other words this strategy of business grow will increase the revenue by only using your existing customer base. This strategy is based on increasing small business sales by increasing how often your loyal customers do make a purchase, also known as sales velocity. I will also show you a trick how you can use this method to also attract new customers.
So here’s how to increase sales revenue using this strategy
Let’s assume we are a boutique donut store. We make all donuts in house, using our special recipes for the whole process. People from all over town come occasionally and buy a box of donuts. Generally, people in town/area know us and some additional advertising may not be as effective – it will remind existing customers about us but on same time it will not yield much new ones. Therefore, we need to increase velocity of our customer base – which in simple words means to decrease the time between two purchases of a single client. How we do that?
We give the discount if they do make a purchase in a given period. First, it is necessary to obtain some information – how often do usually regular clients come. As I worked to optimize such business I know that there are in general three types of people:
- Type A – come every day to get a donut and a coffee, they live very close to the location or it is on their way to work.
- Type B – come every 3-4 days.
- Type C – come few times a month (9-12 days between purchases).
In this case we can prepare three types of coupons that we will give after the purchase is made. There is little chance to increase the velocity of Type A customers even more. Yes, they may not come some morning but generally they are very regular. Therefore, we can either give them 10% discount if they come the next day too or very good discount if they buy additional donut and/or drink. This will have some positive effect and also those customers will not ask a question why they do not receive any coupon.
Type B customers are actually the ones that can give us most value and so boost in revenue. The right approach is to try to increase their velocity by about 30%. This is a realistic target. So if they come every 3-4 days we would love to make them come every 2-3 days. 15% discount if you come in the next 3 days is a very good approach. If you then observe a decent amount of people coming regularly and using this promotion then change it. Make it 10% if you come the next 3 days and 20% if you come in 2 days and give them a choice at the cashier. It may sounds very difficult but for a small business with few location it is totally feasible to apply this strategy. Usually, for a single location donut store you would have about 70-80 people that become regular on this deal. If those people come twice a week and average purchase is 5$ and we make them come 3 times with the 20% discount then revenue will increase from $750 to $960/week. It is important to notice that this additional revenue does not require more capital.
Type C are the occasional customers. There is huge value to be gathered from this group. I suggest to make a coupon valid for next 7 days. Making the transition from coming occasionally to be regular every week is huge step forward and will really increase sales in long term.
For some small businesses this approach is the best way to increase revenue fast. Furthermore, the long term effect is also significant. It creates habit to the consumers and then they continue to come more often. Something more, the coupons for discount easily attract new customers as well. All you need is the right mindset and willingness to change the situation. This article may help you, especially if you are selling services – Increasing Sales Velocity by Making Customer References a Competitive Advantage.
This method is feasible and easy to implement. All it is necessary is a leaflet/coupon that communicates well what is the promotion about and a date stamp so we can know when the purchase is being made. Furthermore, it will be even better if the cashiers are also trying to communicate the promotion and engage the customers even more.
Here are the pros and cons using this tactics
Lower risk – it is not necessary to estimate in advance how well will this marketing campaign work, as the investment is mainly going to printing and transaction costs, and not advertising. In other words, it only necessary to produce the leaflets and then be able to handle the situation at the cashier and give the proper discount. Effectively, in this situation the business is paying marketing money only when there is a sale. So there is less risk, but of course return on investment is also more stable and some huge downswing or upswings cannot be expected. All this characteristics makes this approach perfect way to boost sales of a small company.
There is always a chance that the terms of the campaign are not the best ones. For example we have set the deadline of a second purchase too soon or too late. In the first case, customer will not receive enough additional utility on a following purchase and so will not do it. If the deadline is too far away, then we many not increase the velocity of a purchase but only give discount on customer’s usual purchase. So it may be tricky to get the time periods properly, but once you do then you can launch many campaigns and everything should be ok.
2. Increasing revenue by successfully using social media
As you probably already heard many times, social media presents fantastic opportunity to not only connect to existing customers but also gather new ones. During the years I have mastered Facebook and for this particular example – boutique donut store – this is the best approach. However, I will lay out the foundation of how to use Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn as well.
2.1. Increasing sales vie Facebook campaigns
If you are complete rookie in Facebook then create a personal profile and then create page for your business. Here is a great checklist what you should do after creating your Facebook page. Then your first step should be towards acquiring 1000 fans. It is not an easy task for many small businesses. However in the case of donut store we can easily get them by posting photos of our donuts. And because everyone loves sweet and they look very promising it is very often that they receive huge engagement.
This photo is great example of this principle. You have to agree that it is very tempting to give a like, comment, tag a friend who loves donuts, etc.
On other side if it is a service company or office supply store then it is much more difficult. Therefore, I recommend reading this article – How to get your first 1000 Facebook fans.
Once the page reaches at least 150 or so fans you can start promoting posts successfully, as well the page itself. The reason to wait for this amount is that few people are giving a like to a page with only 4 likes or so, this will make your ad campaign inefficient and thus very expensive.
Your next step is to evaluate your customers. I recommend you to start with your most frequent ones. What is their gender, age, interests and geo location? Sometimes you cannot obtain all of the information, or you know just roughly but it is fine. Give a try, make a promotion campaign and input only the details you know. Initially I recommend to start with small amounts – $10 is good. And see how it is going. You can Google more information about Facebook ads and average costs, but it is best if you manage to calculate by yourself whether this investment is worth it or not. Here’s a beginner’s’ guide to Facebook ads that would be useful if you are about to set up your first campaign.
In the most basic example, let’s assume we are launching a campaign to sell a box of donuts. The Facebook ad is linking to a page at our website where the customers just need to choose what 6 donuts they would like in the box, pick and address and finish the purchase. Even if your website do not have some additional tracking code you may be able to determine whether the campaign is successful. For example for every $10 spent check how many visits you have from Facebook, then check how many orders from new users you have. This is the most basic way to track how you are spending money. Google Tag Manager is a free way to get more sophisticated tracking – here is a guide how to use it.
If you do not like the results try a different call to action text, another image and if it is necessary fix the settings – target older people, or just women, or even only people interested in weight loss. What is the logic? If they are looking to lose weight then it is very likely that they love to eat sweet thinks like donuts, it is cruel, but that is business. We are looking to increase sales not to save the world.
The two main strategies using online ads to increase sales of a small business
- Design process to send customers to physical store.
- Design process to make customers purchase online.
Before starting you should be sure whether you want to get them buy online or come to your store/call you to set up a meeting.
Of course, you can put a map and invite them to come buy at the page that they should choose what donuts to be delivered but this is a great distraction. It is very likely that many people would decide to postpone the purchase because the location is not so far away and they might stop by some time. It may also has positive effect but from my experience I know – it is better to focus on a single strategy per campaign.
Using such simple ad campaigns may be very effective, especially if you manage to find the right audience and the right way to engage them. Be prepared to waste some money, the first 5-6-7 times it is normal to not get the things right but once you get the principle it is just matter of time to do some tests and see what works for your business.
2.2. Using Pinterest to boost sales
Pinterest is another place where you can easily get tons of traffic to your website. The problem is that it is not working for every niche. The reason for this is the demographic of the audience, as well as the image representation of every post – your post is as good as the image. Furthermore, it is used for leisure and so business services here are out of the game.
On other side, a donut store may succeed to drive a good amount of traffic but the problem would be the targeting. Here’s an infographic that describes well what Pinterest is in reality, so have a look and think about whether your business may fit and benefit from it.
2.3. Twitter and LinkedIn
Twitter is great tool for the business. It not only allows you to interact with your customers but also allows you to see what is going on with them. Same is valid for LinkedIn. The difficulties in those two networks come when you need to get the right audience to follow you. They are much more difficult to be exploited and require deeper knowledge in order to develop a whole process of attracting and converting clients. That is why I suggest not to rely on them until you are very successful with Facebook.
3. Email Marketing
This is one of the most popular ways to engage with your loyal customer base – let them know about new products, deals, news or just remind them about yourself.
However, it is becoming more and more difficult to properly manage your list. The two most important questions ahead of you are:
- How often to send emails?
For a small business and especially if you are a rookie in email marketing I suggest one email every week or two. It depends how good content you have but even if you have many good stuff to offer/tell about do not send more than one campaign per week, at least not for the first month. Then if you see that people are really well engaging you may try to increase it.
- What to include in the emails?
It is very important that your emails are not purely sales ones. You may mention a new product, a promotion or something else, but do not overdo ti. Give your subscribers some value – an interesting article, important news about your company, something funny that is somehow related to your business or else. The idea is to give them some value every time, this will keep them opening your emails and so giving you a chance to make a sale sooner or later.
Those are the two general principles of using email marketing to increase revenue of your business. Follow them and you will find your way to success.
4. Cold Calling
Cold calling is the evergreen for attracting new customers. Especially if your product is a service then, in my opinion, this is your best tool in short term. In long term you may develop a sophisticate process where your website/blog/fan page attracts customer, then they are converted with your content and at last closed by you. But if you need more customers fast then this is the best approach. Just pick up the phone and start calling. The more you call the better you will become.
If your service fits well to most businesses (for example search engine optimization or website development) then it is best just to call a lot. From experience I know that it is best to call 3-4 firms than to think too much before calling one. At least for me this works well, especially if you are smart and do not sound like a very mean salesman. What I mean is that you can make at least a chat with most companies – how they are doing, how they are attracting customers (if we offer SEO or new website and they refuse this will give us important information in what they invest, how they operate) and so on. This way you will soon become better and make a sale.
You should be prepared to make a 300 phone calls and not make a single purchase. Do not ever back down. Have a rest, chill out with friends and tomorrow give a try with 300 more. Better to succeed after 500 calls than never to make a single sale. After the first sale you will become so confident that it is very likely to make soon another one. After 5-6 sales you will know very well the process and if you are going to make a sale since first few words on the phone.
Cold calling is the best way to increase revenue for a service company in short term but it is tough to handle the rejection. If you manage to do that and stay focused and determine to get a client then you will succeed big!
This chapter will in brief lay out the two main principles to increase revenue of a small business using its web properties. To be easier to understand how this can be achieved let’s assume we have a website with 100 visitors per day, 10 from which are calling us and one becomes a client.
5.1 Converting better
Converting better will mean that our website will be better – simple but stylish, one that people feel they can trust. Furthermore, it conversion process should be clean and easy – we should know where people start their session and where we want to get them and how to make them go there.
Every distraction on their way between the starting page and the conversion should be removed. Many small companies have on their website Google ads, big partner logos on main page and so on. All those think are options user to be clicked and user will be out of your website and so no chance to be converted. It is necessary to sit down and think as from user perspective. Make their way to the conversion point as easy as possible.
Improving the conversion rate may lead to 20 calls out of every 100 customers and so twice as many chances to get new clients.
Conversion rate optimization is a very big topic, but this guide will serve you well to get the basics you need.
For majority of small businesses their website is not good. The design is old and not user friendly at all. What I suggest is to make it simple but stylish, nothing fancy, just solid website where content is easy to find. The best solution is the development of WordPress website. That is so for two reasons:
- It has great content management system – this means you will able to manage it by yourself, the same way you manage your Gmail or Facebook account.
- Premium themes (premium website designs that fit to WordPress platform) cost around $ 50-100 and deliver fantastic design.
If you go with US or UK firm such service will costs about $3000-10 000. However I suggest some company like this one – Viyve.com – they will do it for about $1000 and in half the time large agencies do such projects.
5.2. Attracting more visitors
So if we are to improve the conversion rate we will receive more calls based on same amount of visitors to our website. But on same time if we invest to improve the conversion rate then it will be even more worthy to invest into attracting more visitors. Doubling the people that visit the website will mean 40 phone calls per day. But how to do that? Here in brief are the 4 major components of every website’s traffic. You can Google more and try to implement particular method to achieve an increase in your visitors.
1. Ad campaign
We already discussed this in chapter 2.
2. Search Traffic
Ranking well in search engines also requires time and efforts but it is a great investment in long term. Creating solid content on your website and receiving genius links to it by your visitors will assure steady rankings and so steady amount of traffic.
3. Referral Traffic
In short term this is not a solution. Building stable and decent amount of referral traffic requires a lot of time and efforts. However, a must do for every small business is to submit their website to every big directory/business listing websites. Even some premium (paid) listings may be worth. This will make your company more viral online and easy to find. Also will provide some benefits to rank better in search engines.
4. Email Marketing
Check Chapter 3 for more details.
This article presented ways to increase the sales of a small business. The methods discussed are very easy to be repeated by every business type and the practical approach to the problem allows you to see in more details how exactly you can succeed. Get subscribed in order to receive the new post on same topic – how to increase sales in a small business. I plan to do an article where more sophisticated ways are discussed, again using a practical approach and examples from my experience.