What will you do differently in the New Year to help your small business grow? I recommend first optimizing your existing and most effective marketing activities before you initiate any new projects.
By improving strategies already working, you’re almost guaranteed that the extra time and money you spend today will ultimately help your small business grow affordably and swiftly. You already know the strategy works, now you just need to optimize it to enhance its performance.
Too often small business owners look for new initiatives to spur sales. I disagree with this approach. The reality is that you’ve probably been using effective strategies, but just not to capacity. By optimizing current strategies, you’ll save time and money and likely increase revenue more quickly.
Here are three revenue-optimizing marketing strategies:
#1 – Tie Your Marketing Activities to Environmental Triggers
What is a trigger?
According to Jonah Berger, author of Contagious: Why Things Catch On, “Triggers are like little environmental reminders for related concepts and ideas.” He adds that sights, smells, and sounds can trigger related thoughts and ideas, making them more top of mind, ultimately increasing the possibility of customer action.
I agree with him. Let’s put his concept to work for your business…
Let’s say you own a small local eatery that serves breakfast and lunch. You’re satisfied with your breakfast sales; however, your lunch sales are flat. To increase lunch sales, try inserting a trigger. For example, when you prepare and display your daily lunch special in front of customers ordering to-go-breakfasts, you’ll likely increase the chances of these same customers returning to purchase your lunch special. When your customers get hungry later, having seen and smelled your lunch special from the morning will likely trigger their memory about your eatery learn more here.
Perhaps you own a small auto repair shop. Most of your business includes oil changes, tire rotations, and tune-ups. However, you also sell tires and you’d like to sell more of them. When a snowstorm or heavy rain strikes, display your all-weather and snow tires more prominently during the week of the storm, and include signs on top of the tire stacks with specific sales copy promoting the purchase of new tires, e.g., “This week only, when you purchase a set of all-weather tires, you’ll receive free rotate and balances for two years.” By tying your promotion to an environmental influence, your tire sales will likely increase.
#2 – Tie Your Marketing Initiatives to Your Customers’ Habits
The moment you attach your marketing efforts to your customers’ habits, you increase your marketing strategy’s effectiveness.
Many people run errands during their lunch hour. Make your service part of your customers’ errands. Let’s say you’re a hairstylist seeking to optimize your salon marketing strategies. Your lunch hour business is slow. To increase business, post a sign at your station describing a lunch hour promotion, such as “LUNCH HOUR SPECIAL: Always receive 15% off a wash, style and blow dry from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Don’t worry – we’ll get you back to work in time and looking great!” People will run errands, so the idea is to become one of their errands.
If your customers are more likely to respond to email first thing in the morning, before they’ve left for work, then have your emails waiting in your customers’ inboxes for when they first sit down with their morning coffee. Most professional email services report email open times and allow for scheduled distribution. (Mine does. I use Constant Contact.) What’s more, most email services report who opened your email in addition to the day and time. This said, consider segmenting your customer email database by the time of day. Send the same email, just at different times, helping to increase your open rates.
#3 – Tie Your Marketing to Popular Events & Holidays
Generally speaking, as a small business you don’t need to educate your customers about shopping seasons because big businesses such as Walmart and Target essentially take care of this for you. The key is to take advantage of this influx of customer spending by tying your products and services to that very holiday or event. Certainly many of us are already tying our products and services to highly popular holidays; however, are your messages and offerings optimized?
Let’s say it’s wintertime and you own a landscaping business. It’s your off-season and your primary service is snowplowing. How about piggybacking onto the biggest shopping season of the year – Christmas, Hanukkah and others? What do the majority of your customers do starting the week surrounding Thanksgiving? They decorate their homes indoors and out! Consider offering an outdoor holiday decorating service. You have the equipment, you’re already taking care of your customers’ properties, and most people will decorate their homes. All you need to do is let your customers know. The reason for them to decorate already exists; you’re merely optimizing your winter services.
Improving your existing marketing strategies generally takes less time than implementing a new one, and the return is more cost-effective. What’s more, by repeating and improving upon your current activities, you’re compounding your efforts, creating momentum. It’s momentum that sustains affordable and efficient small business growth. It’s what will underscore your healthy revenue growth in the New Year.
Marketing Consultant Sharron Senter is the founder of Senter & Associates, a Boston north boutique marketing communications firm that helps small businesses grow revenue by creating useful, high-quality, distinguishing content. She uses a blend of online and offline advertising, PR and social media strategies that work concurrently to build momentum and expedite small business growth. Sign up for Sharron’s FREE monthly marketing tips at