Does your small business stand out from the crowd?
Statistics show that brand loyalty is being replaced by consumer demand for tailor made service. Data from consultancy McKinsey demonstrates this, with 58% of consumers saying they are no longer brand loyal. This has profound repercussions for running a small business effectively. There has never been a more competitive time to launch or run a small business. And in this highly diverse, innovative and disruptive marketplace, small businesses must do everything they can to stands out from the crowd.
How to ensure your small business stands out from the crowd
These steps can be taken by any small business, regardless of longevity, sector or location. The main thing to keep in mind is that consumer demand is changing all the time. Staying up to date with innovative technology is essential as this increasingly dictates consumer and market demand.
With every iteration of service technology, improvement in e-commerce, extension of services, consumer expectation raises. Small businesses must figure out a way to be available 24 hours a day, across multiple time zones and truly understand their demographic to compete.
Local small businesses often have different priorities to those competing across multinational space. For example, an artisan store must concentrate instead on what their customer base wants, needs and expects. But the wider steps to take remain the same. Above all small businesses must keep one step ahead of market trends, consumer demand and technological advances.
- Customer service must come first
Customer service has to be the most important external activity a small business undertakes. Yes, the quality of product or service matters greatly, but with 76% of consumers saying that customer service is the biggest test of a company’s worth, it has to be at the top of the list.
This means being available to customers in the smartest way possible. Utilise automated messaging, social media, blogs, your website, Tik Tok… anything that fits with your target demographic. Creating an omnichannel customer service experience will pay off in the long-term. Regardless of how good you think your product is, without the customer service now routinely expected by consumers, your small business will fail to stand out.
A third of consumers will go somewhere else based on a single poor experience with a business. One of the best weapons in your competitive armoury lies in customer service and accompanying online reviews. This is an area of communication that needs dedicated resources from all small businesses. Around 85% of customers check out online reviews before deciding whether to buy from a company. Review management is essential so that you don’t miss out.
- Does your branding do what it should?
People form their impression of a company’s brand within ten seconds. It’s important to get it right first time. Your branding must reflect your sector, product and service and stand out from the competition. Differentiation is key, as is creativity and clear communication.
Colour is important, as it increases brand recognition by more than 80%, according to data from industry researchers. A consistent brand colour, font and linked design ensures people will remember your business.
- Don’t underestimate the significance of online presence
Around 97% of consumers look online before using a local business for the first time. It is essential to have a strong online presence, which includes social media channels, SEO management and regular updates.
Consider the quality of your website first and foremost. Professional writers should craft the copy and include appropriate search engine optimisation (SEO). If you have these skills internally then that’s a good use of time. If you don’t, it’s absolutely worth engaging a professional to ensure it’s of the highest quality.
Online review listings and management, blogging, press releases, content updates and a strong social media strategy is all part of this too.
- Create a customer loyalty reward system
People spend more on brands they like. Assuming you’ve been following the first three points in this blog, your small business should be building up loyal customers. You must ensure they stay loyal for the long-term. The best way to do this is to come up with a workable, affordable customer loyalty programme.
Whether it’s points on every pound spent, free products, little extras, money off, a well-designed app or any other perk, it’s one of the best ways to keep customers coming back. But not only that. Research shows that a loyal customer is 17x more likely to recommend your business to family and friends. While new customers are always welcome, the real return on investment (ROI) for small businesses is a trusted customer base.
- Commit to more than your bottom line
Business of all sizes must consider the wider impact of their brand, service or product. To stand out from the competition, your business must do more than the competition. That means giving back in some way, whether through charity, community support, environmental measures or any other positive way that demonstrates you share the same values as your customers.
A whopping 92% of customers say they view businesses in a positive light when they do something for an environmental or social cause. Small businesses in particular can harness the power of their local community. Find a cause that suits your brand and company ethos and demonstrate what you’re doing to help.