We’ve been having some interesting Twitter conversations about the concerns of small business owners like yourself. Of course, the number one is HOW DO I GET CUSTOMERS IN THE DOOR? If they don’t come in, they can’t spend money, right? Not necessarily. Let’s look at how these ten approaches to increasing sales might work for you.
1. Give them as many ways to buy as possible. If you can convert ANY of your services or products to be purchased via your Website, do. Give people the ability to pay through bank account transfer, debit/credit cards and PayPal.
2. Promote business events on Facebook. It isn’t just for college students anymore. It is likely you or someone you love is on the site, along with all of your old high school friends, business buddies and more! If you have events or sales listed on your Web site, link to it in a status update on Facebook. Add as many citizens of your local area as you can on the site. Don’t just hawk your wares, though – it’s not all about increasing sales.  Interact on a personal level to gain trust and confidence.
3. Consider a referral program of some kind. Reward existing customers for sending business your way. Advertise this on Facebook!
4. If your business is bricks and mortar, do consider advertising in your local paper as a way of increasing sales. Despite the death of traditional newspaper publishing, many small town community papers are still doing very well and are a trusted source of local news.5. Advertise services and products, usually for free, on craigslist.6. Consider setting up an affiliate marketing program. If you have a product or service that is conducive to this, allow others to advertise for you on their site in exchange for a small commission. You can read more about that here.7. Host an event at your local business, depending on what it is. Hire a popular local band, provide free soft drinks, offer service/product discounts for people coming in. Put a status update about this on Facebook.

8. Mix things up. If your business is truly “old school” and has looked the same for a hundred years, consider a new sign, a new logo and/or a new exterior paint job. Anything to draw attention from the street can help with increasing sales.

9. If you are a craftsperson :cabinet maker, furniture builder, automotive restorer, etc.), video the process of what you do and put it on your Website and YouTube. Let people know more about your background and the care and quality of the work you do.

10. Partner with other complimentary businesses. If you own a flooring store, partner with a plumbing fixture or furniture store. Provide them with postcards and information for their customers and do the same for them.

Instead of focusing on the possibility of failure, focus on how you’ve succeeded in the past and how many people are coming in the door, despite the economic downturn. Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard is a great, new business book that will help you consider success and failure from new angles. I highly recommend it!


by Steven Schlagel