By: Gordon Conner
Here’s the next in our series of solutions to help small business owners be successful.
Not a rocket scientist? No problem, you can still be a good marketer. But, unfortunately, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Every business is different. The marketing plan for a small bank is entirely different from one for a beauty salon. But-building a plan, sticking to it and putting in the time and resources it takes is what’s going to make you a marketing genius.
Here are some suggestions for making you a rocket scientist in marketing:
- Learn how to do it.Remember, knowing what not to do is just as important as what to do. Marketing is a tricky world, so learn what you’re doing before you jump in.
- Customers always come first.Know who these important folks are, what they like, what they want and what they need. And stay in touch with them long after the sale, because you want them to come back.
- Know your target market like the back of your hand.Just because they can fog up a mirror doesn’t qualify them as a target prospect! You need to be sure that your marketing efforts are focused directly on people who need and want your product or service. That’s the secret to getting those wallets opened.
- Remember, marketing is not advertising.Advertising and websites aren’t the only ways to attract business. There are literally hundreds of ways to market your business, so it pays to know which will work and which won’t and eliminate the losers and the ones you can’t afford right up front.
- Define your sales goals and targets.Marketing is a numbers game. If a marketing activity won’t bring in the numbers to reach your goals, it’s a waste of your money. So be sure you know your goals for income, expenses, profit, needed inquires and sales.
- Ever heard of the four Ps of marketing?Getting your product, pricing, placement strategy (distribution) and promotional strategy humming along and working together is crucial to good marketing.
Essential Tools for Good Business Marketing
If you have all of the marketing essentials together, you can’t help but attract customers and get new business. So get it all together into your marketing toolbox so that you’re prepared at all times.
Here are a few items to pack into that toolkit:
- A marketing plan and a budget:Put together a strong plan that will work for you for years to come. It doesn’t have to be a thesis, but be sure you have it written down. Communicate this plan to your team and act on it EVERY day, even when business is great.
- A superior product or service:You can do all the advertising in the world, but if your product or service isn’t something your market wants, values or loves, all of that advertising will just go down the drain. So do your research and listen to those customers before you launch into the market.
- A professional brand:A brand is a whole lot more than just a logo. It’s everything that you do in running your business. Everything your customer sees, touches, feels and thinks about your business goes into determining your brand. It’s vitally important that you invest in the development of your brand so that it stands out from the crowd and promises a strong Value Proposition for your customers.
- Value Proposition: A Value Proposition is a statement that positions you against your competition in the market and outlines why customers should do business with you instead of any of your competitors. Tell your customers how they will benefit by doing business with you. Everything you do to market your business will revolve around your Value Proposition.
- Strong marketing materials:Your business card, sales brochures, sales letters, website, signage, uniforms and car wrap speak volumes about your business and are all contributing to building your brand. Look professional and appealing at all times.
- An elevator pitch:Everyone is always asking, “What do you do?” Don’t bore them with “ I own a craft store.” Have a fun and memorable answer to that question at all times. Something like “I own a craft store that offers the most original voodoo dolls from Jamaica and the teenagers are giving them to all their friends for Christmas this year.” (You get the idea.) Keep it short and deliverable by the time you reach the fifth floor.
- An awesome website:Your website is your home on the web and must grab attention and give real value. You’ll use this tool to keep in touch with your customers, as well as a means to attract new customers. The Internet can be a scary place for some people, but if you don’t embrace it in today’s business climate, you may not be in business very long.
- A simple database:The heart of all good marketing is about building a solid database of past, present and future customers (prospects) so you can keep in touch and communicate regularly via e-newsletters, emails and phone.
Clever Ideas to Market Your Small Business
You don’t have to spend a ton of money. Some creativity and a strong desire to be different from everyone else can make the difference between success and failure. Here are a few ideas to market your business:
- Attend networking events.It’s all about who you know. So meet and greet. You never have too many friends.
- Sponsor local events or charities.You’ll feel great when you support the local community. Everyone wins-you, your employees, customers, the sponsor and, of course the whole community. Win, win, win.
- Conduct public relations.Getting your name on radio, TV, in newspapers and magazines isn’t really hard to do-especially if you have a good story to tell.
- Embrace social media.Create a presence on social-networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Producing your own videos for YouTube or writing your own blog are creative methods of letting people know about you and your business. Believe it or not, it can actually be a lot of fun.
- Present seminars and events.Setup your own events and then invite your best customers and their friends. It’s a great way to get to know people and build relationships.
- Want to be a public speaker? This isn’t for everyone, but if it’s your thing it’s an awesome way to show your knowledge and get new business.
Top Marketing Tips for Businesses on a Low Budget
Most businesses simply don’t have a lot of money for marketing. But there are ways to generate business without spending the big bucks. Here are a few tactics:
Try to focus on activities that build relationships-strategies like networking, business alliances, checking in with old customers, friends and previous co-workers.
Look for people who can help you with marketing by working on a commission basis, or a university student who’s studying marketing and needs some hands-on experience.
Get together with your small business owner friends and form a mastermind group to share low-cost marketing ideas and refer business to each other.
Accept the online marketing world and learn how to use Google AdWords, writing blog posts and selling yourself on social media.
Don’t overlook the free online directories and post articles on other websites along with links to your site.
Don’t jump into the low-cost options until you have the basics covered. Develop your strategy, know your target market and make your product the best in the market.
What are you doing to advance the cause of your business? If you have some unusual ideas that have worked for you, we’d love to hear about it so that we can pass along your solutions to others.
About the Author
Gordon Conner is a Branding Consultant/Coach and Copywriter who helps build killer brands for small local businesses. He has been providing advertising, marketing, branding and copywriting services for 39 years and lives in Midlothian, Virginia. He can be reached at Gordon@BranWorks.com, or www.BranWorks.com.