Small Business Marketing

4 Strategies to Increase Sales at Your Small Business

Sep 23, 2022 • 6 min read
increase sales strategies
Table of Contents

      Think for a moment: What do you love most about how your favorite business connects with its customers?

      For me, the business that comes to mind is my beloved neighborhood Chicago bakery. They offer pastries with a Scandinavian influence, differentiating them from the other cupcake shops and bakeries nearby. They know me by first name—so many cardamom buns later—so the cashier usually can talk me into adding a latte to my breakfast pastry order. They make custom branded boxes and tins that I can reuse to bring my friends treats later. And, perhaps most importantly, they work with other businesses on the block to enliven their space and offerings, from featuring a nearby coffee roaster’s beans to placing a local nursery’s gorgeous snake plant in their window.

      If your small business is looking to increase sales and build lifelong customer relationships, look no further than this bakery for inspiration: it’s already utilizing 4 simple but key strategies for growing their business within the community. I bet the business you pictured at the beginning is also using at least one, if not more, of these principles to connect with customers. And the best part? You can use these strategies to your advantage, too.

      Ready to get started? Read on for more tips and tricks on how to grow your business with these 4 plans of action.

      #1. Determine 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.

      #2. Grow Your Invoice Items Through the Upsell

      A seasoned 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? Obviously, 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.”

      #3. Motivate Your Customers to Return (and Buy Again!)

      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.

      #4. Be Neighborly

      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.

      Invest in Your Business and Your Customers

      I’ll admit it, there’s nothing really new about these 4 simple strategies, but simple doesn’t mean they don’t work—really well. Invest in your small business and in your customer-retention program by implementing at least one of these strategies today.

      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. Readers should contact their attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor to obtain advice on any particular matter.
      About the author
      Rachel Mennies

      Rachel Mennies is the owner of The Little Book, LLC, a small business that provides writing and editing services to individuals, nonprofits, and businesses of all sizes. At last count, Rachel's writing and editing skills have helped shape nearly 500 articles and blog posts for Lendio.com.

      Share Article:

      Business insights right to your inbox

      Subscribe to our weekly newsletter for industry news and business strategies and tips

      Subscribe to the newsletter

      Subscribe to our weekly newsletter for industry news and business strategies and tips.