As you begin 2011, think about how you can build your business despite the challenging economic times. Recessions often weed out weaker players and provide opportunities for savvy ones to emerge even stronger when the good times return. Here are 5 techniques growing businesses can and should adopt now to thrive in the new year:
- Collect your customers’ e-mail addresses – having your customers’ e-mail addresses lets you send them, with their permission, targeted communications that will motivate them to come back to your business for more products and services.
- Start a quarterly newsletter – Provide useful advice in your newsletter, not just blatant sales promotions. Example: if you are a heating and cooling company, tell customers how they can insulate their home in winter to reduce heating bills.
- Sign up with an e-mail service provider (ESP) – E-mail service providers like Constant Contact take the hassle out of managing your newsletter and monthly service costs are reasonable ($15-50 per month depending on level of service).
- Digitize your product inventory and make it searchable – If your inventory isn’t already in electronic format, input it into a spreadsheet like Excel and make it viewable on your website so customers can see what’s in stock.
- Build your website – If you don’t have a website, build one! Your site need not be jazzy – a simple informational site is often best. Services such as Intuit.com can acquire a domain name and build and host your site for around $25 per month.
Often small businesses find they want help from a local web consultant or web designer to get started on the web. If you don’t know a good local consultant or designer, study your competitors’ web sites and sites of other local businesses you admire and see who built them – often the designer’s name is at the bottom of the first page. Good luck!