Many small businesses are challenged with several areas of marketing. Especially, not knowing where or how to start. Recently, I met up with a friend who is about to launch a new service. However, when we discussed her marketing, her strategy was all over the place. In fact, it was hardly a strategy any marketer would recognize. She wanted to ‘just get the word out’ and wanted to solely focus on sending newsletters to a list she had as her marketing.
In an ideal world, your target audience would open your newsletter, read it, and then take the action you want them to. But in the real world, it’s not so straight-forward. There are so many things that impact whether people take any action, even when you lead them to it.
Like my friend, small businesses with limited resources often resort to the same type of DIY marketing. They tend to focus on items that they believe will help ‘get the word out’ like a website with content they believe will sell, some advertising, a newsletter, social media post, etc. However, they often have no clear idea of what they are doing or trying to accomplish.
But this doesn’t have to be the case! You don’t have to be a seasoned marketer to not fall into this trap. In fact, here are a few simple things you can do that will help you and your small business be more effective with your marketing efforts:
1. “Messaging” – Define your value proposition
This is something that many businesses are challenged with. So how can you define your value proposition? First, think about these three important questions: ‘Why are you doing what you’re doing?’; ‘Who is your product designed to help?’; ‘And finally, How are you going to do it?’. These questions will help define not just your product, but how to present it to the world.
Ideally, the ‘why’ question should be answered in a way that stands the test of time. This is something that, no matter the bells and whistles you add or subtract, will remain true today, tomorrow, and years from now. The ‘how’ question however, can adapt based on current market needs, changes in the environment, and etc. Once you have a strong ‘why’, you’ll be able to the ‘how’.
If you’re a local florist, the core of your business is to sell flowers to your local community. But why are you doing it? You may have passion for arranging flowers in a vase, but let’s dig a little deeper into the ‘Why’ question. Why should customers choose your business? What makes you different from the other florists in your community? Is it because you guarantee a 30-minute delivery time from the moment an order is placed? Or do you offer unique flower arrangements and premium packaging? Think about this carefully because this will help you narrow down what’s unique about your business and what you want to frame your messaging around.
2. STOP DOING EVERYTHING – Scale the focus of your efforts
Many small businesses will allocate a marketing budget and try to fit in as many things as they can do in that budget without narrowing down their focus. This doesn’t mean that you should ignore channels or methods that are proven in order to get your business out there. Instead it means that when you’re resource-strapped, you have to look at what’s reasonably achievable. Minimize your distractions and really double down on what you can actually do based on your limitations, not what’s ideal. In my experience, the best way to do this is by setting clear goals of what you want to achieve. To go back to our florist example, your goal could be to double foot traffic to your local store in 90 days. To achieve this, you would most likely want to focus your efforts on local SEO, locally-targeted social media advertising, and building up your presence in your local community through possibly partnering with related local businesses, e.g. a specialty wine store.
3. Social is KING – Build your social media presence logically
Many people nowadays talk about how “Content is King”. However, content has ALWAYS been king, even back in the Mad Men Madison Avenue Ad Agency days. Content is VERY important. When writing content for social media please make sure to think about how your content will engage your audience. Social media is important and it is a powerful medium here to stay.
In fact, social media has even created new behavior patterns. In order to be successful on social media, you have to do some research beforehand so you can discover what medium makes the most sense for you to use. For example, a florist might want to focus on Instagram because it’s a visual social media platform. This would allow for the florist to share pictures of arrangements to customers. It wouldn’t make sense for them to focus their efforts on LinkedIn, which is more text-driven and caters to a different mindset. Having the right social media platform behind you can help you really drive your message.
Also remember that if you’re on social media just to promote yourself and get your audience to ‘buy’ what you’re selling, you will fail. Most of the time, your social media audience is not looking to ‘buy’ things; they’re on social media to engage with a community. They will like, share, and comment on what interests them. In order to build a strong social media presence, you have to first understand the mindset of your followers. This will help your tailor the content you put out so it engages your audience.
There are many things to consider when you start thinking about a marketing strategy for your small business. As a small business, double down on your strengths and scale how you define your success. You can’t do everything, so don’t try to; instead set your goals and break down how you can get there. Don’t do what my friend tried to do by relying solely on one avenue either to reach your audience. Think about what is available to you and what you have the capacity to do well. Don’t allow all the “marketing noise” out there in the world to distract you from the core of what you’re doing and what you want to achieve.