Lets face it, 2011 doesn’t have a whole heap of good news at the start of it, and there’s no doubt it that it’s going to be tough for small businesses. Consumer confidence is going to be low and disposable income is going to be tighter than before.
It’s going to take some serious work.
Of course there’ll be lots of hand wringing about how tough things are. But I’ve been amazed during this year at some of the thing that I’ve seen companies doing or not doing.
Really simple things.
Things that take little or no budget, just some graft, some follow through.
I know it’s easy for me to preach from the comfort of a blogging chair, with a paycheck, not taking a risk by running a small company. I know, and I really admire those who are out there, doing what they want to be doing. My ask is just make that effort worthwhile with just a bit more. These are the things I’d love you to do:
1. Follow through
I cannot tell you how many occasions I’ve been contacted by people over the last 12 months to tell me about their great product, and I’ve always written back to say really happy to get some more information. I know I write a little blog, that doesn’t have a massive readership, although those that do stop by are pretty interested in food. And I guess it’s okay to change your mind, but how many times have I not heard from companies again? I probably am not going to write about those businesses, when there are so many great firms doing great stuff and building relationships.
2. Have a website
Please, I don’t care if it’s the simplest website going with the most basic information, just have one. Not having one is like not being on the phone. There are only two businesses I’ve written about in the past year who didn’t have a website. One of them now does. It takes a very unique business not to need one. And quite often it’s not about whether your business needs it, it should be about your customer and what makes it easy for them.
3. Check your spellings
I cannot tell you how much it surprised, and distressed, me to find a local company with a spelling mistake plastered all over their latest sign on a stand at the East Midlands Food Festival. If you can’t take care over the basics, then your customers may begin to wonder about your products too.
4. Twitter is not complicated
And it’s quite possibly not a fad. If you can talk, and type, then you can be on Twitter. Just remember it’s not all about the tell, it’s about conversation. You wouldn’t talk at people all the time, so don’t use Twitter to do the same.
5. Understand PR
Honestly, if someone wants to write about your product, then that should be seen as a good thing, something you’re not paying for. And at its basic level, we’re not talking about Peter Mandelson level spin, but just having the very basic things in place. You’re going to need some good clear shots of your products, both high and low res. If you don’t know the difference, you should. You need to respond, and I would think writers are often on a deadline, so speed is somewhat of the essence. And no, you can’t vet or check what they write. Don’t get advertising confused with PR.
6. It really is about the customer
Yes, you’ve got to produce great tasting stuff that people want, but you’ve to keep people engaged with what you do, and you’ve got to keep them with you if you’re going to keep going. Never take them for granted. This year’s next big thing can so easily be next year’s has been. Just ask Robbie Williams in the fallow years.
I really, really do wish all of you the very best of luck in the year ahead, but I really hope that you do everything you can to create your own luck as well.
Love the photo by cinnamon_girl on Flickr.