Marketing is the engine of your small business. Without marketing you’re just someone with a shingle out hoping people with stop by your store, website or ring your phone. We all know hope is not a strategy. The essence of marketing starts with positioning your business as a solution for a specific niche customer. Once you have a detailed customer profile, you then develop ways to attract the attention of that customer. If you start by building a relationship without trying to sell, you can develop an intimate understanding of your customers’ needs. Your marketing plan is all about positioning your business as the best option to meet those needs. The only way to grow your small business is to keep growth as your #1 goal.
There are four main goals of marketing
- Attract new customers
- Sell more products to existing customers
- Sell more expensive products to existing customers
- Persuade your customers to refer you to additional customers
How do you do it?
Message: The story you tell about what you do is critical to the success of your small business. Your message must be authentic and results driven. Be careful not to make your message all about industry jargon; focus on a statement which will drive your target customer to ask more questions. For example, “I can fix any sales team in 90 days?” Now, you want to make sure that you don’t make a statement that comes across as hype or unbelievable, but don’t be afraid to stake you claim for how your business is the best solution for your target customer.
Market: One of most common business mistakes I see is: small businesses (with limited time and resources) trying to focus on too large a market. Focus on a specific niche target customer. If everyone can use your product or service, no one will. Work on being a specialist in your industry. You will be able to charge more, and you’ll not have to compete as often. I remember, when my company focused on video production we were going after a government contract to do a video for the U.S. Air Force, and I will never forget one of the firms competing with us was called Air Force Video Production. Needless to say, they won the contract hands down. When you are a specialist, it’s very hard for generalists to compete with you. Niche your business.
Method: How you communicate with your target audience is important. Social media is the most cost effective marketing tool, but you shouldn’t start with social media. Focus on your website first. Make sure it represents your brand well and that it is easy to do business with you. Invest in an email marketing program such as www.Mailchimp.com to keep in touch with your existing customers and prospects. Once you have your target customer identified, then you should figure out where that customer spends time online and be a part of the conversation. Remember to “friendraise” first online. Build relationships first, then go for the sale.
Money: If you are not making money, you have an expensive hobby. You must make sure that you are pricing your products and services to make a profit. Make sure there’s a percentage of your overhead and administrative costs factored into your pricing along with your labor, materials, and shipping.
If you make sure that your message is converting customers, that you understand what your market needs, are clear on the best methods to communicate with your target customers and are making money, your business will soar.
Do you have any more M’s to add to marketing?
Melinda F. Emerson, known to many as SmallBizLady is America’s #1 small business expert. As CEO of Quintessence Multimedia, Melinda educates entrepreneurs and Fortune 500 companies on subjects including small business start-up, business development and social media marketing to fulfill her mission to end small business failure. She writes a weekly column on social media for The New York Times. Forbes Magazine named her #1 woman for entrepreneurs to follow on Twitter. She hosts #SmallBizChat Wednesdays on Twitter 8-9pm ET for emerging entrepreneurs. She also publishes a resource blog http://www.succeedasyourownboss.com. Melinda is also the bestselling author of Become Your Own Boss in 12 months; A Month-by-Month Guide to a Business That Works and the ebook: How To Become A Social Media Ninja; 101 Ways to Dominate Your Competition Online.
“Building Marketing Text 3d” Image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG / FreeDigitalPhotos.net