This is Chapter 2 of our business insights series. Check out the insight below for some helpful guidance from a number of experts across industries. Make sure to read the final articles in this series for more success tips.
A happy “tax surprise,” (never thought I would write those words in the same sentence, but it’s for real), is that the Internal Revenue Service is giving a big break to people who withdrew retirement funds, due to the pandemic.
Under normal circumstances, participants withdrawing these savings would owe a percentage of their redemption, based on their tax bracket, by the following April 15th. Not this time. Due to Covid-19, the IRS is giving people in this situation THREE YEARS to pay taxes owed. That’s quite an extension and can help with cash flow. This is so new that customer service staff at even the biggest funds don’t know about it. Some of the ones who do, are demurring and suggest the customers research further on their own. I write this as an award-winning business consultant with small business clients who grapple with their changed circumstances, due to the pandemic. (I have a home office.)
– Sharon Geltner, Froogle PR
Embrace Technology Wherever Possible
Many small companies often boast that they offer a more personal touch than their larger competitors, and that might be true. However, don’t let the high touch be the enemy of the high tech. Embrace technology wherever possible, and overcome emotional resistance to learning about tech and how to use it in your business. What we have seen time and again is that — in the end — tech wins. It always wins. And the velocity with which tech innovations are putting conventional businesses out of business is multiplying.
Internal processes are not immune from this trend, either. Take hiring for instance. If you’re still relying on paper or face-to-face interactions, the pandemic made it abundantly clear that you’re at a disadvantage. If you have been avoiding tech and hoping for a return to normalcy, be careful: the end of the pandemic in 2021 will not stop the push toward automating HR services. If you’re going to compete in the post-pandemic world, you need to move as much of your processes to the cloud as possible, including seemingly off-line activities like drug testing and pre-employment occupational health testing.
– Jared Rosenthal, CEO of StaffGlass
Build a Community on Social Platforms
Having a social media presence is crucial for widespread success. Social media allows you to build a community within your brand. As a company, we have a focus on BIPOC and inclusivity within the skincare industry, and interacting with young girls and boys that feel heard through our brand is not only essential, but incredibly rewarding. Our tip for utilizing social media is to have a clear message through your branding. Make a statement, demand societal norm shifts, and display passion.
– Olamide Olowe, Co-founder & CEO of Topicals
One of the hardest parts of being a small business is getting noticed. The great thing about the internet is that anybody can start a business and put it out there. The worst thing about the internet is that anybody can start a business and it seems like most of them are. This makes it hard to stand out in the crowd. You can’t out spend your bigger competitors and the marketplace is flooded with smaller businesses trying to get noticed just like you. One way to find success is to build relationships and a reputation. Start interacting with people, let them know what you do and how you can help them. Once you get a couple people to give you a try, over-deliver. With some initial success you can start building. Ask them to tell others about you, offer a referral reward. You can also ask them for a quote that you can use as social proof to other potential customers. Social proof can go a long way in convincing people that you’re a good choice. All you have to do is get the snowball rolling and then keep building on each little success.
– Todd Ramlin, Manager of Cable Compare
Social Media and Delegate
Automate social media or delegate to a freelancer. It’s still important to have a social media presence in 2021 but business owners need to focus on growing their business and I see too many of them get distracted and spend way too much time curating their social media profiles. Incorporate tools like Buffer or work with a freelancer to free up your precious time.
– Cody J Murphy, Founder of Visual Oak
Think through your customer experience. Customers are used to a high level of service today, and you should go above and beyond to make your customers feel appreciated. If you make your customers feel appreciated, they’ll become brand advocates that will refer new business to you in the future and help you grow your company. Make your customer experience awesome, and you’ll see some amazing results.
– Colin Palfrey, CMO at Majesty Coffee
Lasting Relationships Aren’t Just for Marriage
The greatest tip for 2021, or any other year, is to focus on creating lasting relationships. The goal should always be to create, and nurture lifelong relationships with customers, staff, vendors, partners, everyone in your business life. Do this by engaging the relationships within your business world even when they are of no immediate benefit to your business. Especially if they are of no immediate benefit. There is no better way to let someone know that they are valuable than to make an effort to keep in contact, and genuinely be interested in their life, despite them having nothing that you need. There is a balance here. Don’t be a bother or pry into someone’s personal life, but be genuine, and be interested. That’s what it’s all about.
– Alex Birkett, Head of Content at everythingbuttheplant.com
Local SEO Tips for Businesses
In 2021 it’s more important than ever to take advantage of local SEO marketing. You want to drive the right customers to your website. Make sure your name, address and phone number (NAP) appear exactly the same everywhere they’re posted on the web. Then increase those local citations as much as possible because the more your NAP is listed, the better chance you’ll show up on Google’s top three Local Pack results.
First and foremost, set up a Google My Business account. Then make sure your NAP’s listed on the big sites like Yelp, Foursquare, Facebook, Yellow Pages and more. It’s essential to write unique bios for each citation no matter how tedious — don’t recycle one. Make sure to include high-ranking commercial intent and informational intent keywords in your bios and a link to your site via relevant anchor text. Add images and videos whenever possible. Then choose the right categories for your business!
Pro Tip: You can see all your local listings via the MOZ Local tool. Search for your keywords and see which directories show up in the local organic results. Then register for those too!
– Matt Bentley, Stanford Engineer, Founder and CEO of CanIRank
Do Less with More Focus
If you want to grow your business, you need to do less with more focus. As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to get swept up in the day-to-day activities of your company and forget to work on the things that push your company forward. Find the 20% of your work that’s going to yield 80% of the results you want to achieve, and focus on those key elements.
– Ian Sells, CEO & Founder at RebateKey
Digital Marketing Strategies
Integrate AI in SEO. As we dive into 2021, artificial intelligence is set to become more relevant. Use AI-powered SEO tools like UberSuggest for data analysis, keyword research, link-building, and content creation. It’s quick and gives accurate results. And the best thing, most of these tools are free.
Use social media to your advantage. It’s set to get bigger in the future. Social media will help you create brand awareness, visibility, and target a wider audience. Plus, it gives valuable insight into customers’ behavior and preferences.
Use the human approach as much as possible. Most businesses seem to miss this important aspect of marketing that dents their growth. Try to establish a bond with the audience through your content and let them know that you care for them. It builds brand loyalty and trust.
Set growth goals. Prepare a basic framework of your business plans and analyze them quarterly. It will help you carve a better strategy and bring you a step closer to your goals.
– Dave Nilsson, Founder and Director of ConvertedClick
Importance of Market Research
There are so many tips that one can give any business, but my main tip is in market research. I learned this the hard way. I had a product that I was set on, and after creation I then sought a market for it. This was like trying to fit a square into a triangle. It just didn’t seem to fit. I learned then how important market research is. You want to know who your market is so you can tailor your product as you create it. Rather than the costly strategy of creation and then going back and making changes later.
– Ravi Parikh, CEO of RoverPass
Be a Trusted Source
We’re in unprecedented times. Our past metrics of success no longer apply, and we need to adapt to the new normal of remote work. Businesses can grow in 2021 by moving away from third-party e-commerce sites like Amazon in favor of their own websites. With retail moving primarily online for the duration of the pandemic, cementing your brand name as a reliable, trusted source within the e-commerce space will increase your repeat customers. Bringing your customers directly to your site will also allow you to capture their information and better understand your customer profiles.
– Shaun Price, Head of Customer Acquisition at MitoQ
Embrace Digital Transformation
One thing businesses can do to grow is embrace digital transformation in 2021. Regardless of whether or not competitors in the field are diving into the digital space, small businesses should definitely go for it. Think, how can you incorporate digital technologies into everyday operations? Perhaps using QR codes to encourage touchless transactions, save paper, and spread the word about the business digitally.
Perhaps, taking on digital marketing and utilizing social media platforms to connect to larger audiences is a good option. Or maybe selecting a fitting merchant service is something you have not considered before. Adding digital communication channels, like live chat could be a viable option as it could make customer interactions better and more efficient. If customers can quickly connect to a customer service agent whenever they need to, their experiences will improve immensely.
In 2021 customers will look for ease, touchless solutions, and simple interactions with businesses. If you have not embraced the digital world yet, you should.
– Natalya Bucuy from LiveHelpNow
Smart and Selective Investments
The best way to grow your business is to be extremely smart and selective about your investments within the first year. Money will be tight when you first start out, so where you put that money is crucial. Putting those funds towards a great marketing team can go a long way towards the long term success of your company. Whether you choose to outsource or hire your own team, think creatively. Be unique with your marketing ventures. One of our opening activations was, if a customer spent enough in the app, to send a bartender out with their alcohol and have them make drinks for an hour. We also partnered with an underwear brand and had underwear models do our deliveries. Do something that’ll get people talking about your company.
– Chris Vaughn, CEO and Founder of Saucey
Get Creative and Know Your Market
To grow your business, especially in the digital world, you have to know your market. Be aware and keep an eye on trends in your industry.. Get a great marketing team that understands your vision and can execute it flawlessly. You also need a user-friendly website that won’t be driving traffic away. It is important to invest in someone who can build a website that is easy to navigate. Don’t be afraid to get creative! Being an innovator in your industry is the best way to gain traction, so stepping outside the box sometimes can pay off in the long run.
– Omid Semino, Founder & CEO of Diamond Mansion
Mastering Your Product or Service
Having a successful business is about mastering your product or service. When you know what you’re talking about, people tend to gravitate towards you. You have to be driven by your values as well. Stand firm in who you are, what your value proposition is, and look towards the future always, without forgetting your roots. I am strong in my belief that what keeps our customers coming back for more is our complete dedication and love for Sichuanese food. When you create something that has so much heart in it, people always notice. I spent years perfecting every detail of my product and researching the perfect flavors to make it all come together. Fly By Jing started as a pop-up dining experience where I shared my flavors in person with those who choose to attend. All the effort and care I put into what I do resonates with our consumers, and always keeps them coming back for more.
– Jing Gao, Founder and CEO of Fly By Jing
Staying Relevant in a Changing Society
Having a successful business is staying relevant in the wake of an ever-changing society. An important way to keep your content relevant is to not overproduce. Posting too often, clogging your captions with dozens of hashtags, and creating content that is too lengthy can all be off putting to the average social media user. When it comes to keeping your website relevant, make sure you are investing time in SEO. Find the keywords that’ll bring the traffic to your site. You also have to ensure your site is as user-friendly as possible. Users will immediately click off of a confusing website to navigate.
– Jim Beard, COO of BoxGenie
Nurturing relationships with your customers is incredibly important towards keeping them coming back. I have found that sharing stories of satisfied customers with others always makes an impact towards potential new customers. Retaining a base of people who genuinely care about and believe in what you have to offer them stems from great service and a product that directly satisfies their needs. Improve your customer satisfaction by understanding and being sympathetic to their exact needs. In my case, I am helping out diabetes patients who struggle to afford insulin through our standard healthcare system. It’s a difficult subject to take on, as it affects so many lives. For this reason, I love to make everyone feel important, heard, and front-and-center. It is also important to check in with your consumers as much as you see fit. Gather feedback, hear out any concerns and have an educated staff who can answer any questions they may have.
– Kennedy McDaniel, CEO and Co-Founder of Banting
Maximize Social Media Marketing Through Storytelling
The events of 2020 have been profoundly difficult for small businesses. Yet, there are actionable ways to get back on track and grow in 2021. One way is to maximize social media marketing through storytelling. Learning how to use social media to build your brand and tell your story is critical. By telling a story about your brand you create an authentic connection with your audience. After the events of 2020, we are all looking for ways to strengthen our connection with others. Therefore, consumers will be looking for brands that build trust and are authentic.
Our company, Bobbie, utilizes video on social media as part of our storytelling. For example, Bobbie shares video testimonials from real moms and dads to provide them the opportunity to tell their personal stories about their feeding journey with their baby. We also create videos about the making of our product and videos of our team members hard at work.
From Instagram stories to Facebook Live to LinkedIn videos, there are endless ways to incorporate video into your content plan. A call to action within the video will also help to increase engagement with customers and lead to conversions.
– Kathryn Schwab, Head of Content for Bobbie
Improve Conversion Rate
I am a marketing consultant and an established food blogger. I managed eCommerce marketing for a portfolio of my customers. So I would like to share some tips on marketing and landing page design that have helped me improve conversion rate for eCommerce stores.
I implemented these steps on my website landing pages and it worked wonders for me.
- Using countdown clock on my landing page (caused 11% increase in conversions)
- Using exit pop-ups. (I used “Hello Bar” to do this)
- Running dynamic remarketing ads (it got me 23% increase in conversions)
Running dynamic remarketing ads has been most effective for me because firstly, setting them up is very easy on Google Ads platform. Secondly, through dynamic remarketing ads, I could target my audience (shopping cart abandoners) with highly personalized messages (ads had images of products that customers added into their shopping cart but did not end up buying).
– Samiksha S Rawool, Founder of Yummy Tummy Recipes
None of us really know what the business landscape will look like this year but whether Covid-19 is rampant or not, we do know that there is always opportunity for growth. To achieve it, small business leaders will likely need to pivot and adapt through our changing world to remain successful — I believe the best way that can be done is through robust digital transformation, or up and coming businesses should approach all their work digital-first.
A good digital strategy can change any business for the better because in 2021, so many non-digital workflows can be done digitally. Sit down with your team and think about what aspects of your output can be optimised and what parts can be automated. If you’re stuck for starting points, think about: customer service tickets, data monitoring or lead-generation.
If your business hasn’t gone digital already then there really is the option for improvement and enhanced connectivity everywhere.
By empowering your digital workflows, you will empower people you work with too and if you free up time for staff, you will simultaneously improve non-digital workflows effortlessly. All of this will lead to you saving time and in 2021 time, really is money.
– James Croad, Co Owner of Music Grotto
Sales Tactics for Expansion
It consists of making a Pareto analysis of the sales made in the previous years to identify the repartition of sales in volume and profitability.
From this study, you will find that 25% of your sales represent 75% of your revenue or profitability (or 20 % of sales, 80% of revenue).
Make an audit of your website to check for zombie pages. From this study, you will find a load of harmful pages for your SEO.
Focus to promote harder those products that are the most profitable for you.
Delete all the products that generate 0 traffic or no profitability, this helps to delete the zombie pages which harm your good pages.
Find more products with the same ADN that your profitable products and duplicate them.
Those products are keywords that your clients are looking for online, have a good monthly search, are buy intents, and solve your clients’ problems.
– Nicolas Tranchant, Owner and Manager of Vivalatina Jewelry Brand