New year, new plan. If 2023 is the year of "increased sales" for your business, you can jump-start your goals with these 4 simple action-items. Action item 1: find your niche. Creating useful, memorable products or services that offer unique solutions to customer needs is no easy task—but it’s one of the most important principles for sales growth. What sets your business apart from the others in its category? Maybe you’re the first salon for curly haired clients in your neighborhood. Perhaps you’re the only landscaping company in town willing to work through all 4 seasons. Or, you’re the one bakery in the neighborhood serving my favorite Scandinavian pastries. Whatever the niche, once you can clearly visualize the answer to this question, find creative ways to communicate it to your customer. Utilizing social media can be a powerful way to convey your small business’s niche to your customers, new and returning alike. Partner with like-minded small business owners to spread the word, as the company Omsom—makers of “loud, proud” and utterly delicious East and Southeast Asian sauces and recipe starters—does with their “tastemaker” program. These talented chefs serve as virtual brand ambassadors for Omsom’s offerings, spreading the word about their unique products and lending them credibility through their work as restauranteurs. Ensuring that you have a unique product or service like Omsom’s—and knowing how to describe what makes your product or service remarkable—is a critical tool to increasing sales and improving your place in the market. Ultimately, if you can’t differentiate your product or service from everyone else who offers something similar, your business will struggle. Action item 2: Increase the upsell. A sales professional once told me, “There are 2 ways to increase sales within your territory: find more customers, or get the customers you already have to buy more.” Once your customer is in the door—or on your e-commerce site—convincing them to combine or add items to their purchase should be a foundational part of your sales pitch to them. What’s the best way to convince customers to buy more? Personally, I’m a sucker for the latte-upsell, but that may not work when my furnace is on the fritz, unless the repair van doubles as an espresso truck. An air-duct cleaning or annual maintenance plan that helps me prevent another emergency repair, however, might. Free-shipping thresholds and bundled product sets with discounts, like my favorite e-commerce skincare site Glossier offers, can be a great way to attract online shoppers to add more to their carts. In person, it’s all about the impulse buy. Next time you go through the checkout line at your favorite local market, notice the candy bars, gum, news magazines, and other miscellaneous items designed to get your attention. Successful merchants in any business are always trying to use these last-minute add-ons, once you’re already in line to pay, to “add to the invoice.” Action item 3: bring customers back. Although I sometimes lose track of punch cards, I use them—what’s better than a free sandwich or pastry? Even better, virtual punch cards or app-based points systems motivate me to shop at my favorite retailers, knowing that I’ll earn some free treats or cash back with my customer loyalty without overflowing my wallet. However, the best way to reward frequent customers is with what’s called a “surprise and delight”: an unexpected free treat or discounted item to reward them for their loyalty. When my neighborhood bakery threw in an extra croissant for my spouse—for absolutely no reason— I knew I’d be back for more. Perhaps for your company, this means waiving a consultation fee after a customer signs a contract for service or throwing in a travel-size hairspray at no cost after a cut and color. How can you entice your returning customers to become regulars? Customer service, whether online or in person, is key to building lasting relationships with your customers—and increasing sales as a result. Action item 4: make friends with your neighbors. Look around: you’ll find other businesses in your area that cater to the same type of customers you’re looking for. For example, a photography studio could partner with a flower shop or event venue to offer bundles to prospective newlyweds. A dog-boarding center could sell another area business’s homemade dog treats and toys. Returning to my beloved bakery, their commitment to fellow local businesses introduced me to other shops and services in the neighborhood. I even have a plant from the same shop as the one in their window, and I shop there any time I need a new one. The beauty of building these symbiotic relationships with other local businesses: because you work in different parts of the same industry, your customer base probably overlaps. Look for opportunities to form strategic partnerships—or alliances—that are mutually beneficial. Best of all, these types of synergies are good for customers, too. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Lendio. Any content provided by our bloggers or authors are of their opinion and are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, individual or anyone or anything. The information provided in this post is not intended to constitute business, legal, tax, or accounting advice and is provided for general informational purposes only. 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