The dreaded plateau. Most small businesses experience it at some point. You’ve seen revenues increase as you reach more and more customers until you eventually see that momentum start to slow. You look over your operations and keep coming back to the same question: Why isn’t your business growing?
With so many factors involved in even the simplest business, it can be difficult to determine what has hampered growth. Assuming that you are providing a valuable product or service, that you are meeting your clients’ needs, then your problems likely come back to outreach. Here are some of the most common reasons that small businesses find their growth slowing to a crawl.
There is always something that needs doing: orders to ship; clients to contact; jobs to finish. As a small business owner, your list of responsibilities might be longer than your list of customers. It is natural, then, for marketing to fall to the back burner. It feels like something that can happen tomorrow.
If you don’t make time for marketing, you are limiting your reach and your ability to expand. The only way to find new prospects and bring them into the fold as loyal, repeat customers is to do so actively. Marketing helps new clients find out about you, but it also enables you to stay in touch with your customer base, ensuring that you continue providing the products and services that they need.
In order for your business to grow, you need new clients. They don’t just appear out of thin air, though. Before you speak to a live person on the phone or shake hands in agreement, you need leads.
An effective lead generation strategy gets your message in front of an audience and pulls them into your universe. This means you need to know where your potential clients spend time and find ways to bring value into their lives/businesses. While leads are not the ultimate goal, they are an essential step in the process of customer acquisition.
Related: Generating Leads Pocket (free download)
You might still avoid creating an online presence because you feel like it doesn’t really apply to your industry or your services. You manage to serve clients well face-to-face and over the phone. You are probably right when it comes to your current customers, but what about new clients?
If you want to expand your base, you need to have a rallying point online. You need, at the bare minimum, a place where new customers can find out about the products and services you offer, even if most of your work happens in the brick and mortar world.
At the bare minimum, create a Google My Business listing! If you already have one, see how visible it is using our free tool below:
Once you do have those new customers, you want to convert them into loyal fans. Maintaining your customer base is much less expensive than acquiring new clients, so you want to be sure that you keep them coming back.
Rather than thinking of customers as sales, you want to view them as relationships. The stronger you can make those ties, the more likely that they will continue to reach out to you as an industry expert.
Those close relationships keep you from constantly needing to drum up new business. They also make it more likely that your customers will refer new business to you.
Of course, for referrals to truly be effective, you need to ask for them. Requesting referrals shouldn’t be an afterthought. Instead, you want to incorporate the practice into the normal flow of your service. Sometimes small business owners feel like they are imposing on clients or asking for favors.
The truth is that we enjoy referring our friends and colleagues. It makes us feel helpful and allows us to show off a bit. If you help a friend solve a problem through a referral, you have done them a favor. So, don’t keep that opportunity from your clients. Ask them to send qualified leads your way. If you have delivered on your promises and nurtured the relationship, they will be happy to oblige.
We’ve all heard that you have to spend money to make money, but what does that look like in your business? You’ve probably invested in the tools and software you need to keep business running smoothly. You likely invested in quality personnel to ensure that your customers receive top-notch service.
When it comes to marketing, though, you might be afraid to invest because you feel like you may just be throwing your money away. The bad news is that a lack of marketing can hamper your growth potential. The good news is that effective marketing doesn’t have to break the bank.
Related: Marketing Without a Budget (free guide)
You can start small with social media marketing, pay-per-click advertising, or any number of other marketing strategies that help expand your outreach without risking the capital you worked so hard to earn.
As you expand that reach, you want to make sure that your voice and messaging remains consistent. While you can adjust your tone or language depending on your audience or platform, you don’t want to leave your audience confused.
It should be clear across media outlets who you are and what you bring to your customers. Too often, your marketing message can get muddy because you are trying to appeal to everyone. Instead, narrow your audience to provide a single, clear voice.
It is easy to get impatient with a new campaign. No one wants to waste money on a failing effort. Don’t let that possibility make you pull the plug too quickly though. Especially when trying a new approach, you need to let the campaign run long enough to provide some insight.
In order to determine if your message resonates with an audience, you need to get it in front of enough eyes. When you are thinking about how long a campaign runs, then, consider not just the time it is has been running but the number of impressions the campaign has had.
Many small business owners believe that they don’t need to worry about social media because they don’t have a social business. They overlook the great potential for outreach and conversion that these relatively new platforms provide.
An effective social media campaign is one that helps you expand your reach and nurture relationships. It is an excellent avenue for finding out what frustrates your clients and positioning yourself as a trusted authority.
No matter how compelling your advertising or social media campaigns are, you will have limited results if your website has issues. Rather than serving as a digital business card, your site should be optimized for conversions and nurturing.
When customers find your site, they should know what your business offers and how you can meet their needs. This means having an effective about us page and clear messaging throughout your products/services pages. It also means having clear calls to action that help your visitors know what steps to take next. Don’t assume that they know how to reach out to you.
One of the most effective ways to stay in touch with your clients is through email marketing. If aren’t collecting emails from current and potential clients, you are missing an important opportunity to remain top of mind with your audience.
The best way to grow a list is by offering something of value in exchange for the visitor’s email. The sooner yourstart collecting emails, the larger your potential for new customers will be.
It can be easy to ignore a growth plateau. As long as business is running smoothly, it can be easy to overlook the need for new business. If you fail to address the issues above, however, you might find that business moves from slow growth to actually shrinking.
Setting goals is a key component of business growth. Download our free pocket guide below: