Less Is the New More: Keeping it Simple in Small Business

The success of brands like Google and Apple have proven that, when it comes to messaging, product offerings, and user experience, simple is better. Current research also backs up this idea: According to Siegle + Gale’s most recent Global Brand Simplicity Index, 75% of consumers are more likely to recommend a brand because it provides a simpler experience and communication. Simpler brands also inspire greater trust and loyalty than complex ones.
How can you make sure your small business’s branding, communications, and overall customer experience remain simple and straightforward? Here are 4 areas you can streamline.

1. Simplify Your Market

It’s tempting to try and keep your target audience broad so that you have more potential customers to go after. But trying to be all things to all people will only water down your message and complicate your business offerings (see point #2 below). Our recommendation: Go after a well-defined market segment and commit to it.

2. Simplify Your Offerings

Take a hard look at your product and service list. If you own a diner, do you really need 20 different kinds of sandwiches on the menu? If you own a salon, do you really need to offer 15 different mani + pedi packages at different price points? When in doubt, stick to the following mantra: Less is the new more. Keep in mind that the fewer products and services you provide, the more time and effort you can spend perfecting them.

3. Simplify Your Process

Whether they’re checking out from an online shopping cart, bringing in a product for exchange, or having something repaired, consumers hate to waste time on confusing, inefficient, or laborious processes. Wherever possible, make sure your customer-facing processes are as simple as possible. Fewer steps will lead to a faster resolution, which is good news for both customers and employees.

If your internal processes are also complex, you may want to consider making changes there as well to promote employee productivity and job satisfaction.

4. Simplify Your Communications

There’s no quicker way to turn a customer off than to overwhelm them with too many details, too many selling points, or inconsistent messaging. Once you’ve nailed down your brand’s position and story, stick to it. Your customers will retain your brand’s message and value much more easily if you always talk about your business in a simple, consistent way.

The Bottom Line

From a marketing and customer service perspective, more isn’t always better. Keep it simple, and you’ll keep your customers happy.

2014 Marketing Trends for Small Business

As 2013 winds down, we not only look backward to take stock of all that has happened, but also begin to look forward to the new year and all that awaits us. It’s a time to celebrate accomplishments, learn from mistakes, and set goals for 2014. You may already be done with the bulk of your business planning for next year. However, there’s still time to nail down a marketing strategy that will set you up for success. Here are 6 key trends to be thinking about as you develop your plan.

Trend 1: Visual Marketing

People in the social media industry have been talking about the merits of visual marketing for the past few years. In 2014, it’s primed to take center stage. If you’re not already incorporating images and videos into your social media channels and marketing campaigns, now is the time to try your hand at visual content.

Trend 2: Inbound Marketing

Historically, businesses have focused their marketing efforts on outbound marketing—that is, marketing efforts aimed at a large audience with the goal of converting a small percentage to paying customers. Examples of outbound techniques include advertising, trade show attendance, purchased email lists, and cold calling.

In recent years, marketing has been shifting away from a traditional outbound model to an inbound model, which focuses on helping your business get found by people already interested in your industry. This type of marketing aims to make your business visible on search engines, social media, blogs, and listings sites as you create and share compelling content for consumers to interact with.

In 2014, the shift away from outbound marketing to inbound will be even more pronounced. Make sure to budget for the time, personnel, and money needed to invest in developing solid inbound channels.

Trend 3: Mobile Marketing

In October, we discussed the growth in mobile device usage for local search and mistakes to avoid when developing mobile marketing campaigns. Numerous studies conducted in the past year all point to the importance of mobile search for local businesses. If you’re not already present on mobile, make sure to plan for it in 2014! (Pro tip: SinglePlatform can help you with this.)

Trend 4: Brand Authority

In today’s saturated market, it’s not enough to merely say that your business provides products or services worth using—it’s up to the business owner to prove their brand’s authority over time.

This process is not something that happens overnight. It involves investing in a number of areas, including messaging, service, and content. We’ll cover the specifics of how to build brand authority in another post later this month.

Trend 5: Personalization

In November, we covered a few different ways that you can personalize your communications. Personalization is hot right now, and will remain so in the new year. This ties in with the aforementioned inbound marketing and brand authority trends. Today’s consumers want to interact with businesses that are relevant, engaging, trustworthy, and include a human element in their business marketing.

Trend 6: Less Is More

Consumers deal with a growing amount of virtual noise every day. As a small business, you may be tempted to try and stand out from the crowd by being bigger, more extravagant, and flashier when it comes to marketing. But the success of campaigns from Apple, Google, and other major brands has shown that simplicity is often the best tactic when it comes to messaging.

The Bottom Line

There’s no secret formula when it comes to creating a successful marketing plan. However, it is important to incorporate current trends into your efforts to make sure your time, effort, and budget are spent wisely.

Have specific questions or exciting ideas when it comes to small business marketing? Share them in the comments!