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Change can be exciting... though admittedly, change can often be scary. Because of this, small business owners often shy away from making changes to avoid the uncertainty they may bring. But when it comes to marketing, there’s no time to be shy. Consumers are leading the way when it comes to how businesses need to support them – and because of this, it’s essential you stay on track with keeping your customers happy in 2017 and beyond.

To help your unique business thrive in the year ahead, consider how the below marketing tips can help your store and online presence.

Marketing Tip #1: Embrace Online Engagement

Customers nowadays are influenced by brands, friends, communities, media and more at nearly every twist and turn they make. Due to the constant overload of engagement consumers have, it’s critical to be a part of their everyday discussions. There’s no better way to do this than to engage with them online. From social media to email marketing to text message alerts and even live videos, engaging with customers online is no longer something you need to debate about… you simply have to do it. Even as a brick and mortar business, there are countless benefits to being online to help engage your customers – including the perk of having affordable access to your target audience, the opportunity to share store news with just a few clicks, and the potential to capture new customers thanks to the power of social media. Just remember – it’s what you share and how you share it that matters. Aim to entertain, engage, inform and interact with your online audience while also offering them reasons to come into your physical store.


Marketing Tip #2: Deliver Transparency

While being online has its’ perks for businesses, there are disadvantages, as well. Among them? Easier access for customers to gain quick knowledge about brands and businesses – then deciding to shop somewhere else due to this. Keeping this in mind, aim to be transparent in your store policies, as well as be upfront about your company values, socially conscious brands you may carry and any other details that may help persuade customers to support your business versus another. Sharing these details can essentially help your business capture customers who also share your values and appreciate your policies. Additionally, this can help strengthen customer loyalty – which any store owner can appreciate.


Marketing Tip #3: Leverage Being “Small”  

Recently news broke that American retailer Macy’s would be closing many of their stores – and yet, this wasn’t a huge shock to consumers since many prefer to support niche merchants and small businesses versus traditional, big box retailers. Embrace this love affair that consumers are having with small businesses and leverage the excitement – and sales – it can bring to your business along the way. Among the reasons customers enjoy small businesses are because of their unique charm, their outstanding customer care and their one-of-a-kind experiences. But we know those aren’t the only reasons. Why is it that customers love your store? Seek local press, share customer testimonials and make sure to thank each and every one of your customers for shopping small in 2017 and beyond. Longevity begins with gratitude, so start your year off by saying “thanks”.


Marketing Tip #4: Strengthen Your Mobile Presence

Whatever you’re doing… stop. Look around. How close is your Smartphone? Is it in your hand? Are their Smartphones in the hands of those nearby you? Too often in past years, smaller businesses have ignored the power of mobile for their own brand growth. Yet during this time, consumers have increasingly used their phones to research dining, shopping, entertainment and travel options. Keeping this in mind, make 2017 the year you finally strengthen your mobile presence. From how your website is viewed via mobile to incorporating easier navigation options into your brand’s mobile experiences to using text message marketing as part of your marketing strategy, make mobile a priority for your business. As a result? Welcome more customers to your brands online and offline opportunities.


Marketing Tip #5: Look Ahead

While the year may just be beginning, it’s important to look ahead to how you want it to go for you in 2017. Are you aiming to increase customer loyalty? Gain new customers? Open a second location? Strengthen customer management? Increase revenue? All of the above? Whatever your goals are, identify them now so that you can stay on track for reaching them in 2017. You should even go as far as challenging yourself with deadlines to help reach these goals – then stick to them. The reward will be not only stronger customer engagement with your brand – but also a stronger appreciation of yourself and all the hard work you undoubtedly put towards making your business great.


Finally, as you look ahead into 2017 be sure to look forward to supporting all small businesses around you. This marketing tip is the tip that keeps on giving… particularly if you are able to partner with local, like-minded yet non-competitive businesses to help each of your businesses thrive! And on that note… Wishing you a successful 2017… and beyond!

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About the Author

Nicole Leinbach Reyhle is the Founder and Publisher of Retail Minded, a publication committed to supporting independent retailers through news, education and support, as well as the Co-Founder of the Independent Retailer Conference. Recognized for her expertise in independent retail, Reyhle has published thousands of articles about small business and is the Author of the book “Retail 101: The Guide to Managing and Marketing Your Retail Business” from McGraw-Hill. Additionally, Reyhle has contributed to Forbes, Fiverr, IBM and more, and has been the Spokesperson for Small Business Saturday from American Express since 2014. Learn more about Retail Minded at www.retailminded.com, at @RetailMinded on Twitter or at Facebook.com/RetailMinded.