Sometimes it doesn’t seem to matter how digitally advanced your small business is, or how dedicated you are to making it the very best it can be. If potential customers don’t know who you are, where you are, or what your product or service is going to do for them, all your hard work and the most up-to-date technology available isn’t going to help you succeed.
Effective marketing can make you master of your domain, but not if you gloss over or simply ignore the concept of creating real value for your customers. Below we consider a handful of marketing concepts that the small business owner should pursue diligently, think twice about, and outright avoid.
As one of the prime marketing vehicles for the small business in terms of value and cost efficiency, networking is a great core skill to develop. The secret is to start small and focus on one-on-one encounters with the goal of developing bona fide relationships with anyone who matters to your business. Look to coffee and lunch dates as the basis for getting to know these key players better first, and benefitting from their connections second.
When it comes to exploiting the web, think of social media as your friend, not your enemy. Many business owners worry that if they give too much away for free in terms of sharing valuable strategies and insights, they won’t have any buying customers left. The truth is that this is a great way to show your followers the kind of quality they can expect from your company once they become actual clients. Hubspot has created an entire company around this truth.
Regardless of the marketing scheme you choose to test drive, it’s always a good idea to run it through the “And … so?” check first. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes, drill down to the central message your advertising is trying to convey, and confirm that it actually answers the “And … so?” question. Your promotional efforts should always be directed toward honestly convincing exactly who you’re selling to that you have what they need.
The last thing a potential customer wants is to feel like they’re being talked down to, or worse, being taken for a fool. Forget the empty promises, the tired clichés, and the confusing jargon in your promotional content, and just get straight to the point. What does your customer want, and how are you going to give it to them? If your product or service is going to save clients time, money, or worry, or is going to make their lives better or more fulfilled in some way, then that’s what your marketing efforts should tell them.
To follow up, or not to follow up - the jury may still be out on this one. Many businesses rely heavily on the idea of bombarding interested customers with sales letter after email after phone call. But if you’ve really done your homework and are wisely marketing to qualified prospects, this heavy-handed approach shouldn’t be necessary. In fact, if you’re simply barking up the wrong tree it won’t be effective anyway. Research your market; then consider drafting a one-time, powerfully supported message that makes all the right points to all the right people.
Much like your business plan, or the financial infrastructure you gain when you outsource your bookkeeping, in the end you may just have to accept the ugly truth that your passion for your business is only going to carry you so far without a well-crafted marketing framework. But creating one really doesn’t have to be that hard.
Think about what appeals to you personally when you look to invest in a new product or service. Let’s face it: spam spilling out of your inbox and sales calls that interrupt the dinner hour can be a really ugly thing. Unless you truly enjoy being on the receiving end of tactics like these, don’t inflict them on your would-be clients.
The actions that will get your business noticed, and that will attract and win over more customers, should be the first and last things you think about each day. Regardless of the promotional vehicles you choose, you can easily turn your marketing strategy into a beautiful thing by ensuring that the message these vehicles carry is always compelling, specific, and relevant to your clientele.