Doesn’t it sometimes feel like marketing deliberately makes itself sound way more complicated than it needs to be? I myself have found myself choking on my own jargon and buzz words that mean something to my industry, but are simply worthless to anyone else. To be fair, any industry can get lost in its own language. I’ll say that for marketing your small business, you don’t need CMO level credentials to do some amazing marketing to grow your business. Marketing complexity doesn’t need to confound the small business looking to implement winning marketing strategies for your product or service, nor should it.
Marketing your small business shouldn’t be complicated. In fact, I’ll argue it should be the fun and enjoyable part of the business. It’s the part where you focus on the customer, how your business serves that customer and how you can appeal to even more people with your amazing product or service. In a real basic sense, marketing should work like this illustration. (And please let’s not all get offended. This is an equal opportunity piece right here.)
Think about strategy in a more simplified and stripped down way so that you focus on what you should do versus everything you could do. After all, clarity in message, execution and service is a winning combination. There are so many solutions and avenues to explore when marketing your business, but you don’t need to get tangled up in all of them all at once.
The questions you need to answer are the most basic and fundamental pieces of information required in any great story:
Who, What, When, Why, Where and How
If your small business can answer who your customer is, what value your product or service adds to their life, when they give attention and purchase, why they should choose your product or service over anyone else’s, where they will encounter your brand and where they will purchase and how you are going to deliver your message and measure success… I think you have a pretty darn clear start. Don’t overthink it. These questions should be easy to answer.
Additionally, a marketing strategy is only as good as its mission and goals. What are you trying to accomplish with your marketing efforts? Be so specific it’s painful. The more granular your goals, the more focused your efforts and your ability to measure effectiveness. If you document your goal(s) and answer these basic questions, choosing tactics and implementing them will be much easier and fun than you may have originally thought.
Align your efforts with your customer and you’re already leaps ahead of others.
Here is a simple example to illustrate:
Business: Bob the Plumber, independent with a few assistants
Marketing Goal: Increase referrals to his business through existing clients
Who (ideal customer): Lisa (30-something homeowner)
What: Bob the Plumber, offering same day reliable and affordable plumbing services to fix any residential plumbing need.
When: It’s needed most – urgent need or scheduled service. 24/7, because no one plans to have plumbing issues.
Why: Bob’s certified, been in business over 30 years and fixes the problem same-day at residential rates. And he’s Bob and everyone loves Bob.
Where: Former customers, online (peer-review sites)
How: Do a damn good job, website presence, local offers / happy new and returning customers, redemption of offers
So where should Bob concentrate his marketing effort? Bob’s goal is to increase referrals from existing clients. Bob will probably be most effective by staying in touch with his former happy clients and making it easy for them to refer business his way.
- Bob could send them monthly emails to remain top of mind. He should include a clear call-to-action by providing special offers that his customers can use or share with friends.
- If a former customer recommends Bob, they may very well go to Yelp to read other reviews, so Bob can set up special deals on Yelp to encourage action.
- Having a website will only help more people be able to find Bob any time of the day and get his contact information or schedule with him online.
- Featuring client testimonials on his website would also be a great way to leverage happy clients.
- Bob can create a Facebook page that all his happy clients can like and get useful information about home plumbing maintenence and “what to do when…”
- Creating helpful content tailored specifically for his clients.
- Serving the heck out of his clients and showing lots of gratitude.
There are so many other awesome activities to explore with this one simple example and the joy with marketing is that you may try something and it works (winning!) or maybe it doesn’t work as well as you thought it would and then you adjust. The most important takeaway is that all of your efforts point back to your goal and can be measured in some way. Just as every great piece of writing has a clear thesis statement, so should every great strategy have clearly defined goal. I know this sounds so basic, but it is such an excellent place to begin. You can then continue to add more details, tactics and campaigns to your strategy when you have the core outline of your strategy defined and documented.
Here are just a few more really simple, low or no cost thoughts to leave you with:
YOU CAN get the word out there about your business.
The world is more connected now than ever thanks to social media. Social media can be your small business’ best platform for getting the word out there and letting people know who you are, who you serve and how they can find you. Social media is free free free. Seriously, there are no gimmicks. I know a wonderful small business that gets all their business through word-of-mouth and their Facebook business page.
YOU CAN nurture potential, existing and new customers with email.
Mailchimp offers a completely free email solution for your small business. It even comes with the necessary WordPress plugins to maintain your list of subscribers right in your free Mailchimp account. If you are collecting subscribers for your newsletter or promotion, Mailchimp easily maintains these for you and then you can easily follow-up.
YOU CAN remain present on social, even when you’re busy.
Running a small business or working full time for one means you don’t have as much time to be on social media all day long. Not a problem. Schedule your posts in advance so that when you do have time so you can be active on your preferred social media accounts anyway. Buffer has a completely no-cost publishing service that allows you to set your queue and get on with your day. Just like you make time to check email throughout the day, just make it a good habit to check in on social as well so you maintain real-time engagement.
YOU CAN establish trust and credibility for your brand.
Writing a blog or filming a video blog are the best ways to build trust and establish credibility. Write or film, either way, with a computer or a smartphone – you have all the tools you need to get it done and publish online. Have you seen some of those iPhone videos? Seriously. It’s like movie magic. Your everyday technology empowers pretty impressive DIY when you don’t have a huge production budget.
YOU CAN make connections.
Don’t forget, people are the most important part of your business. Good old hustle is still effective, so get out of your business and be meeting and talking to people. Don’t be a secret business. Tell your family, friends, church members, doctor, hair stylist, etc. You don’t need to sell them anything, it’s simply just part of who you are and you should let people know.
Your small business marketing strategy doesn’t need to be complex and multilayered for you to reach some of your goals. Based on your goals, your customer and your budget – do the things you know you can do right now to be successful in your marketing efforts. And if it seems too easy to work, well then it actually might work!
Your marketing efforts will grow with your growing business. Do what you can. Do it well. And have fun.
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