Did you know that there are about 30.2 million small businesses in the United States? These are establishments with less than 500 employees.
If you’re starting out, you might have worries about fighting all the competition or missing a milestone. It’s especially worrying when you’re a mom and pop shop goes up against big names on the industry.
Fortunately, there are a lot of tools and techniques in your arsenal that can help you distinguish yourself. You can start by building business credit and following the steps laid out below:
1. Showcase Your Brand’s Personality
One of the biggest advantages of mom and pop stores over the big, generic retailers is the brand. What this means is that you need to move your focus on identifying and highlighting your own unique brand personality. You need to do this instead of trying to get the appeal of anyone.
When it comes to your brand personality, you need to make it show in a lot of ways. That means it shouldn’t only be on the products you sell, but also in all other business aspects. Some of these include:
- Social Media Posts
- Website Formats
- Store Setups
- Marketing campaigns
For example, if you’re selling greeting cards, you need to match its tone. If it features famous movie quotes, make sure that your brand looks fun and clever. For organic beauty products, you might want to include recycling types for the containers instead.
Having a clear brand identity helps customers notice your company’s uniqueness. But its more important benefit is the fact that it lets you establish a means of connection. It helps your customers become more loyal as the culture surrounding your business grows.
2. Use Local SEO to Become Competitive
Your brand identity might get stronger, but it’s not going to last without search engine optimization. SEO helps you make a better and friendlier website for your customers. After all, its focus isn’t limited to search engines—it caters to people the most.
If you have a website for your mom and pop business, its main reason should be to increase your customer base. It’s a known fact that businesses grow twice as much if they have a working website. With SEO, you gain better ranking in search engines, especially Google.
Remember, this search engine titan holds about 92% of the search engine market worldwide. Get a high ranking in the search engine results page and you get more website visits. It’s essentially more chances of you getting new customers.
But what can you do to improve your SEO? Here are some things to consider:
Get Local Listings in All Directories
It’s easier to put your business in front of your current customer base. But if you’re trying to get new customers, you need to use business directories. These sites do a great job of putting businesses at the forefront of your potential clients.
Business listings often feature a small snippet detailing your business. It also displays some business reviews as well as your contact information. The good thing is that there are hundreds of these directories out there.
To increase your chances of customers finding you, do your best to get yourself listed in as many directories as you can. You can do this process in a manual way—going through each directory and listing yourself. A good alternative is to make a single master directory listing for all directories.
If you’re trying to make new profiles, make sure to run directory reports. This helps you determine whether your business already exists in that directory. After all, duplicate listings will harm your ranking.
Keep Contact Information Consistent
For SEO, consistency is the key. That’s why it’s important to keep your contact information the same across all your directory listings. This boosts your SEO rating while ensuring that your brand identity remains intact.
Your contact information should include the basics—name, address, and phone number. It’s recommended to use a master directory listing for easier directory updates. Check your business logo and make sure it’s consistent across all directories.
Using an old logo for one listing and the current one on another will lead to confusion. This will undermine your efforts when establishing a brand identity. It hurts your SEO rankings too.
Get a Google My Business Listing
With Google remaining at the top spot for search engines, their Google My Business feature is your friend. It gives you a huge boost in visibility, especially in the local scene. You need to go through a process that verifies your listing, but the efforts are worth the benefits.
Once you get a listing verified, ensure that it’s filled out with the right information. Even the littlest information can help increase your chances of getting found in local searches. You can add photos and videos of your location, as well as store hours and other important data.
Once you’re done with your listing, it’s time to make it work for your goals. Make some posts about your events and deals, as well as other news about your industry. In particular, the Q&A section will help increase your SEO ratings.
Optimize Your Content for Local Keywords
Local keywords will help a lot in ensuring that you’re found. That doesn’t mean you should cut corners with your content quality. Remember, Google likes high quality, valuable content on your websites.
If you aim to get higher rankings, use keywords on your web pages. These phrases are often the ones people look for when they want to find your business. Add your location to them and make sure to include stop words to make them look coherent.
Optimize Your Website for Mobile Use
Google’s gradual shift towards mobile-friendly websites is noticeable. After all, these sites tend to rank higher than those without the right optimization for mobile consumption. With the most recent update, Google now places fast-loading mobile sites in higher rankings.
Fast-loading pages are one of the most important parts of your SEO strategy. Today’s visitors crave a fast website experience. Visitors will click off a page when you make them wait for more than 6 seconds.
3. Use Social Media Marketing Tactics
These days, most people own at least one social media account. Out of these, Facebook remains as the platform with the most active users at 2.2 billion each month. If you want to maintain competition in business, you need to use social media marketing tactics.
But what are the most common tactics for social media marketing? Here are the most common steps:
Build an Audience Persona
Your social media message is ineffective unless its design fits the audience you want to target. Developing your audience persona will do a lot in ensuring your success. There are three pieces of information you can use to identify your ideal audience:
Happy Client Reviews
This is your prime starting spot when you’re building the ideal audience persona. Make sure to identify their demographics, as well as their goals. Having a close understanding of these will ensure you know who you’re targeting.
This information aims to answer your product or service’s purpose. It helps you identify how your business makes things easier for people. If you get a thorough understanding of this, you can understand how people value your business.
Customer Support Surveys
If your business has a customer support feature, talk to your representatives. Ask what your customers ask often. This knowledge will show you the right direction for your content to ensure it’s engaging and interesting.
Use the Best Platforms
It’s not a wise move to try out all platforms and get as many people as you can. If you’re a small business, you might get overwhelmed. This puts you off-track and your results might end up inconsequential.
Out of these, one of the most common staples is Facebook. But you still need to ask a few questions to ensure you’re focusing on the right platform. For example, you need to know the people in need of your business.
After that, you need to know where your competitors are. Check out the platforms your competitors use. Make sure to take note of their presence as well as their follower base.
About half the consumers on Twitter rely on influencers when making buying decisions. What this means is you should focus on finding out the experts on your industry. The easiest way to identify them is through their follower count.
Once you do, try to reach out and build a relationship with them. Always come prepared to answer how you can benefit them in turn. This ensures that you bring them value while giving you equal or even greater opportunities.
As soon as you agree, look into the things your influencer posts about your business. Make sure it’s in line with your brand image. If they tried out your business and didn’t like their experience, you need to know it beforehand.
4. Get a Business Loan
There are a lot of reasons for you to get a business loan. But if you want to stay competitive, you might want to secure financing to invest in new equipment. This helps your business stay on top of the competition, especially in a fast-paced environment.
But what are the benefits of securing a business loan? Here are some:
Low Interest Rates
When taking out a small business loan, you’re assured that you get low interest rates. This will depend entirely on various qualifications as well as your creditworthiness. Once you apply, the rates can get as low as 6.75%.
Unlike other long-term loans, you won’t see the interest rates climbing into double-digit territory. Don’t worry about getting a loan other than the Small Business Association. It has higher rates, but they’re still cheaper compared to other types of loans.
Good Repayment Terms
Small business loans have the longest repayment terms. Its payment schedule isn’t stressful for your business too. It’s especially the case if you’re trying to get a loan from the SBA.
For example, SBA loans give you a lot of allowances. Your monthly payments are within 25 years if you’re buying real estate. As for the equipment, they’ll give you a decade to pay it up.
If you need money, you need to get a detailed plan to ensure you get approved. With an SBA loan, you can use the funds you get for almost any purpose. You can refinance your existing debt, buy lands, or make a lot of equipment upgrades.
Flexibility is great if you’re trying to manage your small business finances. Getting cold, hard cash will ensure that you get the funds you need to pay your vendors on time.
5. Stay at Competitive Prices
Most industry titans win customers over due to the fact that they’re cheaper. As a small business, you need to stay aware of the rates for the products and services you offer. Make sure that your prices remain within that range.
There are a lot of pricing comparison resources on the internet. It’s especially important if you want to see your competitors’ average prices. It’s easier to do since most brands will put their prices on their webpages.
Build Your Mom and Pop Shop Today!
When it comes to small businesses, it might be discouraging to compete with bigger companies. After all, they have the resources and manpower needed to stay relevant. But you’re not without tools or techniques to ensure you stay competitive.
If you want your mom and pop shop to thrive in this environment, use this list. It’s a good starting point, helping you get a decent share of customers in your local area.
Looking for more tips? Planning to follow our steps above and get a loan? If so, read our guide here and learn how to avoid predatory lending practices.