Article | March 21, 2020
Support for Small Businesses In a Time of Global CrisisBusinesses around the world, whether bricks and mortar or ecommerce stores on Shopify or other platforms, may be experiencing disruptions resulting from the global outbreak of COVID-19. However, to help ease the burden on businesses, Facebook has this week announced it is offering $100M in cash grants and ad credits to help during this extraordinary time.
Article | August 18, 2021
The term "Horeca" is an abbreviation of "Hotel", "Restaurant" and "Café". It represents a very diverse sector, i.e. from star-restaurants to catering and canteens to brasseries up to small, local cafes. A small country like Belgium counted end 2017 almost 60.000 horeca-enterprises (7% of all Belgian enterprises), thus showing the importance of this sector. Furthermore with a total revenue (also end 2017) of over 15 billion EUR and more than 75.000 people employed in this sector, it remains an important economical actor for the Belgian economy.
It is undisputable that the Covid crisis has been a disaster for this sector. However, now that life gradually returns back to normal, it is likely that the trends which were already launched in the horeca sector before the crisis will be even enforced and accelerated.
With new habits come new customer needs related to the horeca. Think about the company canteens. With more people working from home, this sector will have to reinvent itself. Most likely they will start offering also prepared meals directly to consumers via supermarkets and other distribution channels. Obviously, this will force other actors in this market to reinvent themselves, thus launching a chain reaction.
Even more pronounced is the impact of take-away and delivery. While a large group of the population was still a bit hesitant to consume take-away, the Covid-confinements also forced this group to start exploring these new services. At the same time, restaurants which were not offering take-away services before were also forced to adapt. As a result, take-away and meal delivery services have known an exponential boost and this trend, although it will know a small set back when the pandemic is fully over, is here to stay.
Unfortunately the horeca sector was already a sector with a lot of difficulties before the crisis. The sector historically copes with one of the highest percentages of businesses bankruptcies , especially when looking at the first 5 years following the establishment of the business. This is often caused by the fact that many people consider the horeca as an easy way to entrepreneurship, founding their businesses with a poor of even no business plan. At the same time there is of course the strong dependency on labor. As this sector is very labor intensive, margins are low due to the high labor costs. Furthermore with hard work and irregular and long working hours, horeca businesses have more and more difficulties to find motivated and qualified personnel. Additionally the sector, being so fragmented, often lacks professionalism, not really for the horeca-activity (i.e. the preparation and serving of food and drinks) itself, but rather for the supporting activities like financial management, supply chain management (like good stock management), procurement… This makes that many restaurants have a poor view on the breakdown of their costs and revenues, thus losing a lot of money in inefficiencies like expired stocks due to too large ordering, certain dishes which are not sold at the right price, employees being paid too much expensive overhours, bad negotiations with suppliers…
Apart from the above very obvious trends, there are still a lot of other trends. These map perfectly with the 8 universal trends, I described in my earlier blog "Universal trends - Common over all industries?" - https://bankloch.blogspot.com/2021/01/universal-trends-common-over-all.html, i.e.
Pressure on margins: margins are historically already low in the horeca sector, but are becoming even more under pressure, due to new forms of competition, like meal boxes (like HelloFresh or Foodbag), prepared meal services (like Mealhero), sharing platforms (like Thuisafgehaald or Menu Next Door), virtual restaurants (also called Dark Kitchens, i.e. restaurants without a physical location, but only serving online delivery platforms), living room and concept restaurants… This forces restaurants to work more professionally and efficiently and find a specific niche (of clientele willing to pay extra for specific product or experience). These efficiency gains can be achieved via digitalization (with regards to personnel management, cash register, stock management…) and new technologies (like 3D printers or cocktail machines like "Tenderone", "Bottletender"…), but also by being more selective on opening hours/days (especially for weekends and holidays), putting less (more specialized) choice on the menu card, making dishes less complex by investing more in the quality of the ingredients, by pushing more self-service (e.g. let the customer cut the food for the whole table, which has as a welcome benefit that it increase the customer experience).
Trustworthiness: clients must have confidence (trust) in a horeca place they are visiting. Obviously, the customers must have the feeling of being treated fairly and respectfully (e.g. via a transparent and correct pricing), but they also want to be able to trust the product they are consuming (eating or drinking). This means providing more transparency, like providing more info about each dish and more its ingredients (important for specific diets and allergies), nutritional value and origin of the product (i.e. farm-to-table).
Frictionless experience: the customer experience should be at pleasant as possible, meaning any friction should be removed where possible. This consists of frictionless ordering processes, via digital menu cards (providing details of each dish and allowing easy filtering) and direct ordering (directly to the kitchen), all the way to a frictionless checkout, consisting of digitally receiving and paying the bill. A multitude of solutions are available here, like full ERP solutions for horeca businesses (like Apicbase, Horeko, Square for restaurants, HorecaMakers, Growzer…), digital menu card solutions (like Kimeru, Digital Wizards, Futuresto, EasyButler…), ordering terminals and apps (like Futuresto, EasyButler, MyOrder, QCard, PayMyTable…), cash registers (like Lightspeed, RestoMax, Gastrofix, HorecaMakers…).
Personalization: the most important trend for the horeca is obviously the personalization. This results in products and services adapted to the specific needs and desires of every customer. Additionally horeca businesses are being converted more and more into "Experience" places (i.e. surprise your customers, by selling them moments and letting them escape from the stress of day-to-day life), i.e. ensure to give the customer a unique, unforgettable experience, not only via the food and service, but also via the texture and color of the dishes, the building, the interior design…
More in detail this trend means:
New types of restaurants, like living room restaurants (enforcing a more personal touch and home feeling), concept restaurants, food markets, pop-up restaurants…
Accommodating for different food and drink choices. Already around 20-25% of people have a specific food choice, meaning restaurants have to accomodate for people wanting to eat vegetarian, vegan, lactose-free, gluten-free, halal, kosher, paleo, biological… Additionally people want alternatives for the traditional wine-card like different types of water, mocktails, non-alcoholic wine, champagne and spirits (e.g. Seedlip), luxury soft drinks (e.g. Crodino, Finley, Pinky Rose, Fentimans & Fritz-Kola) or special types of tea to drink the meal.
Horeca places should become places to socialize, i.e. provide a home-feeling (i.e. a feeling of comfort, stability, trust, intimacy, warmth…), engage socializing between guests via guest tables, street food or sharing plates…
Allow customers to compose their dishes themselves, cfr. Subway, Hawaiian Poke Bowl…
Democratization: by working more efficiently, more automation and digitalization, it becomes possible to offer certain services and products in higher volumes and at lower costs and thus at a lower pricing. This means certain horeca products, which were before only available to the happy-few cannot be offered to a larger segment of the population. A good example are star-restaurants offering a standardized (simpler) version of their dishes via a take-out or catering service.
Authenticity: restaurants are focusing more and more on providing an authentic experience, e.g. by transforming old factories or churches to restaurants, integrating open kitchens where guests can see the cooks preparing the dishes, chefs finishing plates at the customer’s table… Additionally there is a trend towards pure, simple and honest, meaning natural, artisanal and/or high-quality products (ingredients), which are prepared and served in a simple way. A good example of this are also the traditional dishes in a more luxury fashion, e.g. new types of éclairs (Chez Claire), croques (RemorK), hamburgers (Ellis Gourmet burger), meat balls (Balls & Glory)…
ESG (Environment, Social and Corporate Governance): with customers being more sensitive about the environment and society, horeca places need to accommodate to this customer desire. Restaurants are working more and more with local, healthy (e.g. use of superfoods, use of less salt and fat…), biological/organic and Fairtrade products, but also with products with a lower ecological footprint, like e.g. replacing meat with insects, soya-based meat replacements or vegetables. Additionally horeca players need to avoid waste, via a no-waste kitchen concept (via e.g. smaller portions, trash cooking, creative usage of waste…), via anti-food-waste platforms (like Too Good To Go) and by reducing/avoiding packaging (e.g. avoiding plastic straws, cups…).
Partnerships: as many businesses, a horeca business is more and more integrated in a concept, like incorporated in a shop or combined with an experience (like a horeca place in a brewery). Additionally due to the digital revolution, horeca places need to partner more and more with online ordering and delivery services (like Deliveroo, TakeAway.com or UberEats, potentially integrated via Deliverect), social media (like Facebook and Instagram) and food review platforms (like Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato, Foursquare…), reservation platforms (like TheFork, Tablebooker, Resto.be…) ordering and payment apps (like Dorst.app or Yummy.app). Additionally new players are coming on the market to help horeca businesses with their typical problems, like procurement (e.g. Tippr or Horeca Direct Shop) or recruitment (e.g. Mise en Place).
It is clear that although the horeca sector is already centuries old, it is also undergoing major disruptions. In the end let us hope that all those evolutions can give us an even more enjoyable horeca experience.
Article | July 1, 2021
We have more upcoming business challenges for 2021 now that the year 2020 has passed. Therefore, we ought to be prepared with some power-packed small business marketing ideas for the upcoming year.
Starting a business, no matter how big or small, is easy; the real challenge is keeping it running smoothly and efficiently. Marketing is critical to the smooth operation of a business. Marketing is an essential component of any business for it to thrive. Marketing allows you to establish and promote your brand, generate sales, generate leads, and so on. It isn’t easy to implement the right marketing strategies for a business. Furthermore, due to limited resources, implementing the right marketing ideas for small businesses is more difficult.
Whether you are starting a new business or already have one, it is critical to have an online presence for marketing and brand awareness.
Before we get into the meat of this blog, let me clarify a few concepts for a better understanding of business marketing.
Importance of marketing for small businesses
Marketing is critical for the success of small businesses. Without proper marketing, your reach is extremely limited. Marketing has a long-term impact on your company. It increases sales, helps businesses grow and engages customers. All this necessitates careful planning. Planning entails deciding on the best platform and tools for marketing your company.
Develop a marketing plan
A marketing plan is a detailed plan that outlines the advertising strategy used to generate leads and reach the target customer and market. It collects various marketing strategies used to promote a company, its products, or services. Thus, preparing a marketing plan is very important to set small business marketing ideas. Knowing your audience, spelling out marketing and promotional strategies, creating buyer personas, generating leads and demands, generating web traffic, , and converting leads to sales, are all part of a marketing plan. It is of utmost importance to keep marketing trends in mind and carry out a marketing plan.
Benefits of a marketing plan
A marketing plan brings everyone on the same page.
Makes marketing strategy documented and easy to consult.
It makes it easy to evaluate new opportunities.
It gives a better understanding of your marketing strategy.
Helps in making the right decision for your business or marketing.
Having a plan implies that your objectives are measurable.
It enables your business to be proactive and aligned with its vision and goals.
There are plenty of small business marketing strategies available for your business. I will assist you in selecting the best ones for your business's success by providing you with a few small business marketing ideas.
Top 8 small business marketing ideas
Know your audience
How would you identify your business's target audience? Any marketing technique aims to attract customers to their brands, but not everyone can be a buyer. For your product or service, you must concentrate on a specific target audience. However, this necessitates some market research, which will assist you in identifying your business's niche.
Market research entails gathering information from customers, such as what motivates them to make a purchase decision? What are their requirements? What do they expect from a service provider or a product vendor?
Emphasize search engine optimization (SEO)
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) optimizes the content on your website. . It is popular and preferred by business owners because organic content is a free source of high-quality traffic and internet searchability. You can bring in more traffic to your content and more leads only through SEO. Top ranking achieved through SEO promotes your website 24 hours a day, seven days a week, where Google searches occur 60,000 times per second. However, reaching the top ranking necessitates a significant amount of effort. SEO is a long-term marketing strategy with remarkable long-term returns.
Here are few tips to be kept in mind for the success of optimizing your content via SEO:
Produce high-quality content on hot topics in your niche.
Create content that focuses on relevant and valuable keywords.
Optimize your header tags so that search engines capture your pages.
Include your primary keywords in all your website's landing pages, titles, meta descriptions, and so on.
Use internal linking that helps search engines crawl and index your pages.
Optimize meta descriptions.
Reduce page load time by optimizing your website's images.
Concentrate on generating backlinks.
Use engaging videos to connect
Customers are getting video savvy on the social media platform. Videos develop a personal connection with the viewers or clients, and in this age of social distancing, it has proved to be a blessing for business marketers. Videos play a key role in brand awareness of the business. People with short attention spans are drawn to videos (everybody). Video marketing is also done with a limited budget; therefore, it is one of the best small business marketing ideas.
Marketing teams use video marketing as a strategy to create, curate, and use videos for marketing their products or services to their target audience. However, the goal is to keep audience members engaged with the brand in a simple and easy-to-digest manner.
YouTube receives five billion video views per day. Besides, the average viewing session is 40 minutes per day, a 50 percent increase year over year. Other platforms for live videos, such as Facebook and Instagram, are also very popular. Facebook live videos have a 4.3 percent engagement rate, while non-live videos have a 2.2 percent engagement rate.
People watch 16 hours of online video per week on average, a 52% increase over the last two years.
Viewers retain 95 percent of a message when they watch it in a video versus 10% when they read it in text.
Social video generates 1200 times the number of shares as text and image content combined.
Optimize your marketing technology stack
The marketing technology stack is a collection of technologies used by marketers to optimize their marketing processes throughout the customer lifecycle. Implementing a marketing technology (Martech) stack allows you to leverage and improve your marketing activities.
Benefits of optimizing Martech
Marketing teams can streamline workflows.
Martech tools reduce internal friction.
Allows all departments to work together towards common goals.
Marketing technologies help simplify complex processes, measure the impact of marketing activities, and drive more efficient spending.
Make social media significant for the promotion
Social media networks have transformed the face of marketing and are one of the powerful marketing business tools.
According to Global WebIndex research, approximately 53.6 percent of the world's population uses social media. The average daily usage is two hours and twenty-five minutes. The social media platform is the cheapest and most effective for small business advertising. Social media helps you increase your domain authority, brand awareness, improves search engine ranking, and offers higher inbound traffic, among many more.
As a small business owner, you just need to invest your time and effort into it.
Use relevant hashtags in the post.
Visual content (high-quality and eye-catching) along with text.
Encourage comments on your posts.
Find your brand voice.
Make use of influencer marketing.
Social media proved to be encouraging small business marketing ideas.
Automate your important marketing channels
When it comes to simple marketing ideas, automation is the best solution because it streamlines marketing processes. Thus, businesses need to leverage the automation of marketing channels to reduce manual tasks and save time.
Marketing automation is done by:
Repetitive tasks such as email and website actions can be automated.
Marketing process effectiveness measurement. This results in increased operational efficiency. Also helps to increase your revenue.
Creating a schedule for social media posts.
Marketing automation integrates all business channels and outreach into a single customer database. Automation turned up as one of the key trends in B2C business. Marketing automation makes small businesses competitive.
AI is also a part of marketing automation and is often used in marketing efforts where speed is essential. Marketing automation is feasible for small business ideas. Looking at all the above advantages, there is a growing need for automation as a small business marketing idea.
Optimize your content for voice search
Voice search uses voice technology that allows users to perform searches on a device simply by speaking into it; the device could be a smartphone, a computer, or a smart home assistant (like Amazon Alexa, Siri, Cortana, and Google home). Voice search has grown in popularity in recent years. For instance, voice input now accounts for 50% of all searches. As a result, now is the time to optimize your web pages for the same.
The year 2020 predicted the widespread use of voice search, but 2021 is when consumers are using this technique via voice-enabled devices during the pandemic. Small businesses have a real opportunity to capitalize on a local search through voice. Companies that want to stay ahead of the curve in digital marketing are already implementing a voice search strategy. Small business owners can take advantage of such popular marketing technology trends.
Send and respond to review the request and perform referral marketing
Customers trust and rely on the reviews and customer’s feedback. Thus, encourage customers to share their experience with the products or services that the company is offering. Customer feedback acts as social proof that your customers trust. The reviews or testimonials could be positive or negative, but it surely helps businesses to improve their business or marketing strategies.
Send review requests via text or email that will make the process easy for customers. However, it is equally important that you also respond to the reviews. Responding to reviews can help your business rank higher in search engines.
Small businesses often think referral marketing is not their cup of tea and is meant for large businesses. However, small businesses have a lot more to gain from it as it is one of the best ways for lead generation. A referral is nothing but someone you know recommending the product or service to their known or friends. This marketing idea acts as a promotional channel for small businesses.
Everything is going online, and digital marketing is booming. Since you are now aware of marketing ideas for small businesses, you are only one step away from putting them into action and reaping the benefits of the above marketing ideas.
What are the best marketing ideas for a small-scale business?
The best marketing ideas for a small business include social media, search engine optimization, referral marketing, market automation, etc.
Why is marketing strategy important for small businesses?
How you communicate your value to others is defined by your marketing strategy. Small businesses must improve their positioning. A marketing strategy will help you make sound decisions.
How to calculate the online growth of small business?
Companies should have year-over-year growth of between 15% and 45 percent as a general benchmark. According to a SaaS survey, companies with less than $2 million in annual revenue grow faster. When you have a diverse audience base, you have all necessary processes in place that show the online growth of the small business.
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"name": "Why is marketing strategy important for small businesses?",
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