So, you’ve set up your own business. You have a name, a logo and a stack of business cards and now you can’t wait to introduce people to your product or service. Today, small businesses are spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing marketing channels and routes to market.
But first – a word of warning. You need to be very clear about five crucial elements before you jump into any marketing.
Channel Choices Galore
The lay of the marketing land lies before you with a myriad of options:
- social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat)
- print media (newspapers, magazines)
- direct marketing (mailshots, emails)
- events and exhibitions
- search marketing (organic SEO and PPC)
The problem you face seems to be finding the time to put your message out into each and every one of these channels…
If that’s how you feel, STOP. RIGHT. NOW.
Achieve more, do less
From many years of working with and for businesses of all shapes and sizes, I can definitively say that successful marketing is about quality, not quantity. It’s not how many channels you use, but making sure you are using the right ones to spread the right message.
And that can only be achieved once you’ve answered these 5 questions:
- What are you selling?
This is a key one. And you must think about this from the customer’s perspective and not yours.
What does your product or service DO for your customer? For example: a smart phone solves the problem of missing a business enquiry because you’re away from your desk. It’s value isn’t the amazing 4G connection, but what can be done with it.
So, the first question you need to answer is: what problem is your customer facing, which your product or service solves?
- Who are you selling to?
When asked who they are targeting, so many business owners say “everyone and anyone”. This approach will not lead to successful marketing. You have to dig deeper and really identify your customer – so that you can almost picture them. This doesn’t stop you from selling to other people, but it will ensure that your marketing messages and brand image are honed for your core audience.
Ask yourself, who has the problem that your product or service solves? What sort of person are they? Where do they live? What media do they consume? What is the best way to talk to them and how do you reach them? You need to really understand your customer to get your marketing message heard by the right people.
- Where are they?
It doesn’t matter how loud or long you shout, if you’re shouting into a void, no-one is going to respond. You wouldn’t try and sell leather coats at a Vegan Convention – that’s obvious. Apply the same thinking to every channel you use. If your target is men aged 70+, will they be on Twitter? Is your teenage target market going to hear you if you take a stand at a show? Where are those new mums that you want to sell to?
It’s important to use the most appropriate channel for your audience, whether that be on or offline. If your target customer doesn’t use a channel, don’t market through it. Trust me, this simple change will make a world of difference to your efficiency and your results.
- How should you talk to them?
By this, I mean talk their language – you’ll have a better chance of engaging them. Think of the very different language that teenagers, parents and grandparents use. Use the wrong tone or terminology when talking to your potential customers and you’ve lost them from the start.
By really understanding your audience, you’ll know how to pitch your marketing messages across all mediums. For example, if you predominantly market to a female audience all your marketing will reflect this, from your logo to the language you use.
- What will they respond to?
Everyone likes an incentive or an offer…but we all respond to different things.
For example, when buying mail-order I value free returns. Another person may prefer a discount or a guarantee. By knowing your audience, you’ll know whether they will prefer a % discount or a fixed discount. Maybe they’ll respond better to “half price” than to “50% off”. Get it right, and your marketing will work harder for you. Get it wrong, and it’s a wasted opportunity.
As a small business, you’ve got enough to do without adding unnecessary marketing to your to-do list. Ask the right questions, get the right answers and you’ll be in the best position to deliver efficient and effective marketing.
If you would like some help in getting these fundamentals right – or could do with reviewing your marketing strategy – consider booking on my next ‘Marketing Foundations’ workshop. Its practical, hands-on and I will guide you to the answers to these 5 big questions.