Businesses that aren’t thinking about the next stage of growth won’t stay in business very long. Successful businesses not only strategize ways to reach new customers or develop new products but also how to put those strategies into action. With the new year upon us, it’s time to consider the four quarters ahead. Read on to learn six ways you can position your business for growth in 2020.
1. Reach More Millennials
It’s no secret that millennials represent a huge customer base with a growing reservoir of disposable income, so reaching out to them should be a goal not only for 2020 but for the decades to come. To grow your business with tech-savvy 20- and 30-somethings, focus on new and better ways to draw them into your orbit.
A good first step is to expand your social media and digital marketing platforms. Your business probably already has a strong presence on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn — and if not, start building one now. Next, increase your presence on the following platforms:
- Video: YouTube is the obvious place to promote your business through videos because it ranks second to Facebook in terms of monthly active users on social media sites. Another good choice is TikTok, which continues to grab more market share in the U.S. and elsewhere.
- Photo Sharing: Snapchat and Instagram are the best-known platforms for using photos to market your business, but you should also set up accounts with Pinterest and Tumblr.
- Messaging: The top names in this category are WhatsApp, Messenger, WeChat and Tumblr.
If you don’t have the time or expertise to set up digital media platforms on your own, consider hiring a digital media director or enlisting the services of a consultant.
2. Add Funding Sources
Unless your business is already a cash cow, it’s almost impossible to attain the next level of growth without outside funding. Even if you already have a credit line or high-limit credit card, it never hurts to add more funding sources to finance new products, equipment and marketing initiatives. Here are a couple of non-traditional funding options:
- Non-Bank Term Loan: These are typically available from peer-to-peer platforms or credit unions. Terms can be as little as six months.
- Non-Merchant Cash Advance: MCAs are intended for small businesses that need a quick infusion of cash. They operate like advances on a business’s future credit or debit card sales.
- Investors: Another option is to seek funding from investors, but the hard part is actually finding investors who believe in your company.
3. Tap Into Influencers
If you’re not familiar with social media influencers, 2020 is the year to get to know them. Influencers are non-celebrity bloggers and product endorsers who have anywhere from a couple of thousand followers to 100,000 or more. They’ve become an important marketing vehicle for many small businesses because of the clout they have with so many potential customers. They’re also a cheap way to gain wider exposure for your business if you can exchange a product or service for a review. Here are a few tips:
- Search for influencers on sites like YouTube and Instagram by putting in search terms like (your city) + (your product, e.g. food).
- Identify the best influencers to promote your business based on their product knowledge, number of followers and any niche influence they may have.
- Contact them and request their terms to review your product. For those who charge money, draw up a contract that includes: how long they should keep your link on their platform, any FTC disclosures (if applicable), when the payment is due, your guidelines and terms for canceling the contract.
- Don’t be afraid of the new – TikTok has become extremely popular over the past 2 years and continues to grow (no doubt helped by COVID). Embrace newer platforms for a large reach at more affordable costs than older platforms such as Facebook or Instagram.
4. Add More Payment Options
The primary objective of any business is to bring in money, so it makes sense that the more options you give customers to pay for your product or service, the better your chances for growth. In addition to accepting the traditional means of payment — cash, credit cards and checks — you should expand your online and mobile payment options. There are dozens of choices nowadays, but here are some of the bigger names:
- Apple Pay
- Google Pay
Different fees and charges apply to different payment systems, so be sure to review the charges before adding a platform to your business.
5. Increase Your Focus on Sustainability
Adopting a greener business model isn’t just good for the environment — it’s also something a growing number of consumers demand. Again, millennials are leading the charge here as they look for businesses that prioritize sustainability, whether it’s a restaurant that sources all of its ingredients locally or a clothing manufacturer that uses all-natural or recycled fabrics. No matter your business type, there are steps you can take in 2020 to lower your carbon footprint and make your business more attractive to eco-conscious consumers. These include:
- Reducing waste by going paperless
- Using LEED-certified office space
- Buying used furniture and equipment
- Sourcing materials locally whenever possible
- Using recycled materials at the checkout counter, such as bags, boxes, cups, cartons, etc.
It’s also important to make customers aware of your sustainability program — and to back it up with certifications and awards your business has received from government agencies, environmental groups and non-profits.
6. Build More Customer Reviews
Customer reviews can be a mixed blessing for small businesses — especially if you get a bad review from a customer who’s just having a lousy day. But the positives far outweigh the negatives. Customer reviews provide a cheap way to build more exposure and goodwill for your business. What’s more, a growing percentage of customers won’t make a purchase if they don’t see reviews available. Here are a few ways to ensure more reviews in 2020:
- Collect customer emails at the point of purchase and then email them later to request feedback on the products or services they bought.
- Offer discounts in exchange for reviews.
- Make sure your online review forms are available for mobile devices.
- Share reviews on social media platforms to encourage more customers to submit them.
The Bottom Line
Positioning your business for growth in 2020 doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, but it does require time, effort, inspiration and commitment. Make it a habit every year to develop new ways of expanding your products, services, marketing reach and customer base.
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