Starting a small business is a daunting task, but it’s even more daunting if you look at the number of businesses that fail. The Small Business Administration reports 30 percent of new businesses fail within the first couple of years, while half fail during the first five years. In all, only 25 percent of businesses will make it to the 15-year mark.
There are a bunch of reasons why a new business might not get off the ground, but one of the biggest is a failure to seek out new customers. If you develop a nice customer base in the first few months, you shouldn’t stop there. Here are a couple of ways to keep drawing in new customers.
Send them mail
For many people, there’s still something special about going outside and checking a physical mailbox. In fact, the US Postal Service reports that 98 percent of people check their mail every day. Sure, people may be checking their email inboxes more often, but that actually can work against email as a marketing tool.
Consider this: you can look at your email inbox on your phone, laptop, or tablet. You can check it while you’re waiting for a to-go order at a restaurant, while you’re sitting on the couch watching Netflix, or even while you’re using the restroom at work. It’s a routine fact of life for most people, but your physical mailbox is something else entirely.
Sending someone a tangible piece of mail feels more personal than sending them an email they can delete in a few seconds. We’re more likely to truly look at something that shows up in our mailbox. After all, we want to make sure we’re not missing something important.
If you do direct mail marketing the right way, you can let people know you’re open for business without annoying them. Send them something that makes them curious about your new business, and then see what happens.
Pair up with other small businesses
If you feel like big-name brands are taking over your city, you’re not alone. There are plenty of other small businesses who are lamenting the effects of major names like Amazon and Walmart on the local economy. While places like Walmart can make it harder for mom-and-pop shops to get by, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
Pair up with local small businesses for events that will attract people to multiple storefronts. Let’s say you just opened up a brewery in your town, but you don’t serve food. In fact, you can’t serve food without going through another long and exhausting permitting process. Since you also know that people usually want a burger or hot dog with their beer, why not contact a couple of homegrown food trucks and ask them to set up shop outside your building?
There are a ton of ways you can combine your powers with another small business owner. Think about what your customers want that you can definitely provide. Then think about what else they might want and start contacting those businesses to see about teaming up.
Maybe you’re an experienced surfer living on the coast who wants to offer beginning and advanced surfing lessons. But most beginning surfers don’t have a wetsuit and surfboard ready to go. If you know of a local surf shop that can hook them up, then the shop might be willing to return the favor the next time someone comes in and asks, “Where can I learn how to surf?”
By making each other stronger, you’re also strengthening the local economy. And a strong local economy is your best chance of standing out in a market dominated by companies so big they could blot out the sun.
Image credit: New Customers via Den Rise/Shutterstock