The stats are daunting for local business owners, albeit not as daunting as you might believe. There’s a myth that 50 percent or more of all small businesses fold within their first year, but the actual number is about 30 percent in the first two years, according to the Small Business Administration. However, two-thirds of small businesses won’t make it to the decade mark, and only 25 percent will still be around after 15 years.
If you want your business to be around in 2030, you need to make sure that it’s growing all the time. There are a lot of ways for a company to go under, but there are also plenty of ways for it to succeed. Here are three creative ways to grow your local business.
Use Geofencing Marketing
Geofencing does not involve any actual fences. When you use geofencing marketing, you’re zoning-in on a block, neighborhood, or zip code to target customers. Most of us carry around smartphones, and many of us have location services turned on most of the time. Geofencing allows you to connect with customers who are both local to you and interested in your product.
Let’s say you run a shipping and packaging store. You can set up geofencing to show ads to people in your zip code who search for “post offices near me.” If you really want to get aggressive, you can set up geofencing perimeters around your competitors. If someone goes into a post office and sees a long line, they might start looking on their phone for alternatives. Your ad can be one of the first alternatives they see.
Geofencing isn’t only about ads on search engines. If a customer enters your store, you can even send them a deal on their phone. Or if they’re leaving, you can send them a coupon for their next visit.
Hand Out Promotional Items
You’ve got customers in your store. You’ve even sent them a special deal on their phone. But now you need a way to ensure that they keep thinking about you even after they leave. Digital coupons are nice, but something more tangible can really leave an impression.
That’s where promotional items come in. Starting a business is also about developing a concrete brand. And when you start a brand, you need to spread your logo far and wide. Items like promotional pens and notepads should be ordered and handed out freely, especially in the first few weeks that you’re open.
As an example, let’s say a customer attends your grand opening celebration. They buy a couple of items and take some promotional items, but then they don’t think about your business for the next week. At that point, they need to write down a phone number. When they dig through their purse for a pen, they find one with your company’s logo on it. Hopefully, that logo will conjure up pleasant memories and inspire them to make a return visit sometime in the near future.
Encourage Customers to Write Reviews
Think about the last time you personally looked up a local business. If the business had no reviews, you probably hesitated. Reviews aren’t everything, but they can be a useful way to collect information about a business. If a place has no reviews at all, customers may be more likely to decide it’s not worth the risk.
You want reviews, even if they’re not all good. But you should also know that one negative review is more damaging than dozens of good ones. You may have to actively recruit customers to write positive reviews, at least at first. If a customer compliments your service, tell them thanks and invite them to write a review on Google, Yelp, or Facebook. A note like “Please review us on Yelp!” printed on the receipt is also a good idea.
First impressions matter and you want to do everything you can to ensure your initial reviews are more positive than negative.