Growing a business can be difficult in today's times. I don't know if technology is a blessing or a curse when it comes to Branding and Marketing. The days of handing out business cards alone are a thing of the past. It doesn't matter if you stick to the "old school" basics or the newest marketing strategies, one thing is clear, a plan must be in place no matter which direction you are headed. A plan must be in place whether the business is having a season of harvest or a season of drought. A plan must be in place whether you have an all star team or not. Once you have opened your doors of your business and are servicing your valued customers it is time to show and prove. It is imperative to stick to the plan and adjust if necessary.
Here are a few things that can be a part of your plan:
1. Create your personal “Dream Team” of employees. Ensure that all of your weaknesses are covered. If you are unorganized, your manager had better have OCD! Utilize your employee’s strengths. Implement mandatory workshops to maintain the standard and strengthen weaknesses.
2. Take a step back and analyze your current business status. Think of a well-known, successful business. How many changes have you seen? As a small business you have to think like a big business. If your products and services have not changed from day one, that can create a problem. Of course, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it, but there is always room for improvement! Think of questions that are specific to your business. Is your business profitable? Are there products or services that are not being utilized? Do we currently have any customer service issues? Now find solutions!
3. Start a referral program. Get Creative! Think of your clients as AMBASSADORS for your business. A V.I.P card or punch card for clients referring other clients is excellent. Ensure that the reward generates excitement and is not a loss on your giving end.
4. Go above and beyond with customer service. Ensure your business is known for excellent customer service. This will never fail! Employees should be trained in advance on different scenarios to ensure they are always prepared. Never prove a point with a customer. The best reviews are those when a customer had a bad experience but tells the story of how that particular business made it better. Customer service builds strong brand loyalty.
5. Partner with a non-competing business or professional. For example: How about a Dermatologist or a newly licensed Massage Therapist for those in the beauty field? Create a partnership that can be of benefit to both parties. Invite a professional to your business to introduce or supply a sample of a product or service. Have a trial period for a predetermined time to ensure both parties are satisfied. This may be a great way to cross advertise and introduce new products or services. Also, any products or services not being utilized as desired? This is also a great time to re-brand that whole concept and introduce it again.
6. Start a marketing and branding campaign. Just go crazy! Make your name and logo known to everyone. Advertise, advertise and advertise! Advertising keeps your business in the loop and in the face of your target market. It’s not about how much you spend in advertising. It’s about what works and fits your budget. Remember to follow up on all advertising campaigns by asking new clients how did they hear about your business. Stationary, T- shirts, banners, and sponsorship's for local little league teams are great ideas. Don’t forget your target market in your business plan. Always refer back to this reference to ensure you are sticking to your plan. Definitely advertise where your target market can see it.
7. Offer Exclusives to an association. Associations love to have their own “perks” for their members. Also, they can make mention of your business in their newsletters, websites, and other material which would be of a great benefit to both parties. Remember, this may be a commitment over a long period of time. Ensure that the time frame is feasible and whatever the “perk” is it will not take away from your business.
8. Target a direct market. I know you’ve seen signs that say “All military receive 10% off”, “College students receive $10 off on Mondays”, “Thursdays is senior appreciation day, receive 20% off all services”. This is targeting a specific market. Research may be done when doing this to ensure the proper discount, product or service is sufficient for that particular market. You must know where and how to reach your market so definitely speak with someone that will be of benefit to see what they think first.
9. Once you are busting at the seams, open another location. Many times a business can be so busy that it can be an inconvenience to the owner and a turn off to customers. Longer waiting time and rushed services can definitely create a problem. If the man power and client base is there why not go for it! You got this! You've come this far.
10. Start a franchise. We think too small! “As a man thinks, so is he”. You have done extensive in house training. You have corrected many business issues. You have implemented an excellent customer service program. You have opened other locations and maintained the same standard. Why not start a franchise!
Danielle VanRiel is an accomplished professional in the beauty industry. This blog will serve as a forum to share ideas, ask questions, and provide information to anyone and everyone in the beauty industry. Have a question? Let us know! She owns her own salon, Mirror Mirror, in Cambridge, Maryland, and finds great joy in helping other salon owners realize their dream of success through her newest endeavors, The Platinum Gallery, LLC and Ask Dani.