In this article, we’re going to look at what will make the difference when creating a small business strategy and planning in 2024. As you know, a successful business draws on many strands. Starting with a revenue stream, perhaps including outside investment, how do you progress your business in 2024? Progress will include strong foundations for your admin needs and forward thinking.
We’re also going to point you to one online tool for marketing trend research and it’s free.
We’re going to help your planning with these five vital elements:
- Embrace Technology & Services
- Analyse Market Trends
- Test a data-driven strategy
- Attend business education events
- Benchmark and track KPIs with a Dashboard
Embrace Technology & Services
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is here to stay. How can you use it in your business? Some businesses will embrace these tools but yours may not benefit. The key to using A.I. is to know its limitations, for example in marketing. Where AI succeeds best is in coding. If you have a product or are creating your internal systems, then A.I. will save you hours of mundane coding and bug fixing.
Where A.I. falls, is in the creation of copy for websites. You’ll find the copy bland and like everyone else. If part of your strategy is to use an organic search tactic you are likely to find that Google is not likely to send the traffic.
Other technology and services worth investigating include a professional live telephone answering service. Telephone answering, at first glance, looks to be just about answering your telephone calls but it’s all about customer service. The right service you will claw back your time (no more unsolicited sales calls but more leads and sales that would otherwise go to your competitor) and allow you more focus on carrying out your small business planning and executing the strategy.
Such a service can also make you more money (no calls are missed), allow you to survey customers (for a product or service ideas) and most importantly, offer outstanding customer service. Excellent customer service leads to greater loyalty (customers are happy to buy more) and word-of-mouth marketing, which is invaluable.
Analyse Market Trends
What is your market doing? What trends can you harvest and use in your production and marketing? At its simplest, this requires reading relevant magazines and signing up for information-led email newsletters. Then there is your knowledge, along with your network. Ask questions of that network.
You can also harvest what your customers are looking for, by using your telephone operators to note customer ideas. Along with this you can use outreach on social media and ask your customers, even your leads what they want.
One FREE tool to consider for market trends is Google Trends. Google records the number of searches for many keyword terms (these are the terms you know people search for to bring them to your website). You can compare several terms at once and narrow the location to the UK. You can also search on time frames, the last five years or back to 2004. Some terms will not have enough data to be meaningful but others will give you an insight into any seasonality of the business. Once you know any peaks you can create content and publish at the best possible time.
Other things to note with Google Trends include the ability to look at the market in different ways, Web Search, Google Shopping, YouTube Search and News Search.
Take some of your valuable search terms and see what insights you can make into the market with this free tool.
You may not have accumulated a large amount of data for your business. Do look at the analytics for your website or shopping platform (Shopify for example). You should be able to make some decisions. For example, if you sell online, you can see which type of traffic buys the most. Is it Search (via Google), is it paid Ads, is it referring to websites? Now you have an idea of which traffic tactic works best and align your budget accordingly.
Business organisations like your local Chamber of Commerce or independent social enterprises can also provide some limited amount of data about demographics in your business catchment area.
There are also A.I. solutions that may be able to provide data but this data may not be as accurate as possible due to the fact they can be using tools to ‘scrape’ websites.
Attend Business Education Events
As above, the Chamber of Commerce and business social enterprises support will put on educational events. Many software companies will also put on events, physical and online, that will provide insights and shortcuts to help your business. Look out for one that concentrates on digital marketing, so you can knit together all the elements that will make your small business strategy 2024 successful.
Benchmark and track KPIs with a Dashboard
There are Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions that can draw together the elements that inform your plan. A word of caution, these try to be everything to everyone (therefore not focused on your KPIs) and they will make you think in a particular way.
What is better, for your planning is to use a simple spreadsheet as your dashboard. Track your vital statistics on a weekly and monthly basis. When you start this process, you will have a benchmark your current situation accurately. Then you can create obtainable targets.
What is the most important data to track for your business in 2024? This can be sales, Average Order Value, Margin, new customers, Life Time Value etc.?
Add your online traffic sources, and visitors via Search, Paid, email, and Social. Which source is most profitable? Which source is easiest to grow and create the most revenue?
You can also add items to do with website health and growth in domain authority. These would be items like, incoming links, time on page, average amount of pages per visit, downloads, and newsletter signups. Find the blend that gives you insight into your business. Look for patterns that could lead to new initiatives or sources of traffic and revenue.
Success for a small business in 2024 is a mixture of concrete information and planning. Strategy is what makes your business different in the market and from your competitors. Are you going to aim to have the best possible customer care? Will you be the best-priced? The most knowledgeable when it comes to service?
Once you have an idea of your strategy, which technology and services to use along with data you will be on the road to business success in 2024.