When the going is good, there is little cause for worry. It is during tough times that good-old business practices come handy, especially for small companies and small brick and mortar outlets. Make use of our tips to stay secure and in business.
Good times are happy periods when businesses do well, customers are well-cashed and there is a good synergy between demand and supply. In sharp contrast, crisis periods are when markets are sluggish and businesses slow down.
Let’s take the current pandemic, it has spelt economic crisis for the entire world. But the doom is a different story for big businesses. They have hedge funds, crisis management techniques and strategies in place and capital to glide through tough times. As for small businesses, any period of recession or slow-moving economy is a period of uncertainty and blurred future.
Business strategist and astro consultant, Hirav Shah feels that it is during such times that small businesses need to set their priorities right and overcome the fear of succumbing to circumstances. In a world where change is constant, times change and things turn for the better.
It is this mantra that Shah wants to reiterate when it comes to businesses that run primarily on customer relations and demand. In a country like India or elsewhere in the world, e-commerce has become a norm. But the brick and mortar businesses do give a sense of nostalgia to customers and also helps them have a face-to-face interaction with the sellers. As we all know and are told time and again that man is a social animal, it is this interaction that attracts a customer or consumer to a brick and mortar store or a website.
So, let’s list out some tips for small businesses to stay relevant even during hard times:
Corona or no corona, it is important to keep the conversation going with the customer. If you cannot do it at your physical store, it is very important to connect with your customers, both present and potential ones, through social media. Create posts, share pictures of products and services, add notes and interesting tips to help them bond with you. Brand image is not just for major brands. Even next-door neighbourhood milk shops or grocery stores need to make sure that it is sending the right signals to the right people. While attracting and converting customers is the primary motive of any business, big or small, maintaining good social connect is a primary prerequisite for any business that wants to be in reckoning.
2) Build credibility
A customer returns to relive his initial experience with you. So, be prepared and well-versed about your product. You might be selling less in terms of quantity, but make sure you don’t compromise on quality. And if conditions permit, try to be innovative in your methods. Creative selling methods are a sure-shot way to attract customers. If you operate a brick and mortar business, spread the word in your neighbourhood; distribute promotional material from time to time; distribute coupons or gifts; no matter how small. This will build goodwill and add to your credibility in the long run.
If you have the resources to build a website, have one. But do make sure to update it on a regular basis, lest your customers get distracted due to lack of correct information.
In today’s times, another cost-effective and time-saving means to promote your business is to get on to social media. Sign up on platforms that you feel are appropriate for your products. As mentioned above, keep the interaction open.
3) Sell your story
If you read business stories or articles about big businessmen, they always have interesting stories to narrate about how their business got started and how it flourished.
Stale sentences like ‘I wanted to do business because I wanted to be independent’, do not connect with the customer base — more so in case of small businesses. People love stories and they love recounting the stories they heard. Have a good reason as to why or what made you start your business. Speak to your customers about it. It will create a life-long bond with them, says Hirav Shah, who is a pro in giving out business techniques. Smaller the business, more close-knit is the customer base. So, have a story to tell.
4) Keep a cool head
It’s during the toughest times, that best reputations are built. Don’t let panic overtake your senses. Be cool. Keep faith and believe this too shall pass. As the saying goes, when a door closes, a window opens. It’s a time to be humble, truthful and clear.
5) Stick to in-office methods
Whatever is the situation, stick to your ethics are rules of business. Never compromise on them and ensure that your employees also follow your example. Keep them motivated and inspired to do their best. For small offices, it is important to keep their means of communication open as it will motivate customers to stick to the company. So is the case with small brick and mortar establishments.
6) Network and be visible
If you are a small business, make sure you are seen at industry-related events. If possible, sponsor something to gain visibility. Face-to-face marketing brings in greater credibility and recall value than emails and social media posts. So invest time in finding the right avenues to take your product forward. On your digital platform, try creating a virtual store. If the customer cannot walk in, they will still get to experience the feel of the store.
7) Make your digital presence worthwhile
In the digital age, make sure you get the right bunch of keywords plugged into your social media messages. Also go for SEO optimization, so you are seen where and when it matters. After all, in digital media, popping up at the click of the right keyword does wonders.
8) Little things will help
If you are a small business, test your products from time to time through genuine reviews from customers or those interested in trying your product. If you are on social media, reach out to different people and get unbiased reviews from them. It’s a good starting point to go ahead with your business plans. At the end of the day, everyone loves a little surprise. Make sure to give even a tiny something to your customers along with their purchase. On digital platforms, go for e-coupons that can be used both online and in the store. The connection will keep the customers hooked, says Hirav Shah, who is not just any astrologer, but a business problem solution giver.
9) Be quick to respond
Times could be tough. But the first rule of business is to respond at the earliest, so you can entice your customer. Always remember this.