By Nick Joelson, Marketing Manager at Liberis
Every small business owner knows it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to keep yourself afloat and ahead of the competition.
According to recent research by Simply Business, there has been a 110% increase in the number of independent retailers launched in the last five years, suggesting it’s a great time for retailers to do business.
However, research from The British Independent Retailers Association states there are more than 220,000 independent retailers across the nation and last year (2013 – 2014) whilst 15,908 independent retailers opened , there were 15,182 closures.
One of those surviving the tides is Liberis, business cash advance specialists. Here Paul Mildenstein the CEO of Liberis offers his top 6 ways to grow and sustain your business.
1. Spend money on social media
What you portray on social media builds your brand image and it can reach a never ending audience which is always growing. Consider using a professional photographer to take pictures of your products. Visual Facebook posts with pictures attract 84% more clicks than those that don’t include pictures: see hiring a professional photographer as an investment. You can use these images across your social media channels and your website, so it’s well worth it in the long run. Chocolate Clothing, who are 2015 finalists for a Drapers Award, use professional photography shoots and visuals across all of their social channels. Here’s a post from their Facebook site:
With behind the scenes footage of another product photoshoot shared on Instagram:
Now you have the visuals covered, you could look to hire a professional copywriter, or social media expert, to manage your Facebook output.
If you have a physical store, holding regular in-store events can drive foot traffic your way.
For example, Lush cosmetics regularly hold seasonal blogger events at their stores nationwide. Recently, they invited local bloggers to come to the store to check out their summer skin range. Bloggers then went away and blogged about the event and their favourite products. Here’s a recent review of an in-store event from a blogger who attended:
Holding an in-store event is a great way for retailers to connect with bloggers on a personal level, market products through demonstrations and then gain further promotion from the blogs of invited guests.
Why not host an event at your store? Invite local bloggers and loyal customers, supply some nibbles, and let your guests do the PR for you. It’s a fantastic way to spread the word about your business both online and in person.
3. Fully embrace online
Customers expect a full digital integration from your brand as a way to interact with you and carry out research before they commit. There are a number of key things to consider when you’re optimising your website and media channels for digital; from ensuring your site is mobile-friendly (as this is now how many consumers get online), to ensuring that your website’s content is search engine optimised and accessible by Google.
Paid advertising such as AdWords and ads on the display network play an important role in re-engaging visitors with your brand and products so should not be overlooked in your online strategy.
You might be reading this article thinking that many of the tips require additional investment, but perhaps your business has limited cash flow or you’ve previously been turned down for financing by the bank?
Over recent years there has been somewhat of a lending revolution for small businesses with the introduction of alternative finance solutions such as merchant cash advances and peer to peer lending schemes. These alternative finance sources are giving business owners the opportunity get a business loan even with bad credit and secure finance without using their personal possessions as collateral.
Securing funds for your small business might seem counter-intuitive if you’re cash strapped, but getting additional help now will pay dividends in the long run, especially if you’re able to realise a project that will help your business to grow.
5. Try ecommerce for your website
If you have a website, but don’t have an option for customers to buy from you online, adding ecommerce functionality to your site could really boost revenue for you.
Making the decision to add ecommerce might be a difficult one, but if in store sales are great and traffic to your site is up, plus customers have been asking via your site whether you have certain items in stock, it’s a good indication that you will do well to sell online.
The added benefit of having an online store means that you can broaden your visitor hit and conversion rates because even more people will be able to find your products and buy from you online. You could even consider registering your goods through Google’s shopping product listings, which will pull your products into Google’s shopping results and has been proved to almost double revenue for some businesses.
Furthermore, you can then take advantage of Google’s display ad network to remarket to customers who looked at particular products on your site but didn’t go on to buy something.
6. Connect Online with Offline
With almost everything available at their fingertips, today’s shopper is way savvier than ever before. Despite more than half of shoppers now using digital tools to pre-shop, the overwhelming majority still want to make a purchase in store. So, when retailers plan their digital marketing, they shouldn’t just think in terms of capturing online sales, include a store locator on your website and be certain that all of your in-store product listings are up to date. Ensuring your local SEO plan is well-executed can be incredibly valuable in generating in-store purchases too as well as online sales.
Even though digital is taking marketing and businesses to the new places, independent retailers who can mix both online and offline marketing activities will take advantage of fresh new ways to reach their audience. Remember, it’s important to consider your objectives with your current finances and not to be afraid of seeking financial help for your business if you want to realise your potential.