Marketing for a small business, where should I start?

Marketing for a Small Business, where should I start?

Having been in business a few years now, you have an existing website which is acting as your shop window, you’ve been playing around with social media and advertising but for all sense and purposes you’re a bit lost.

Social media, blogging, vlogging, PR, case studies, webinars, events, mobile apps, search engine optimization, brochures, advertising, google analytics, email marketing, reviews, Ebooks. It all sounds good, but when you’re juggling several other roles as a small business owner it can all be a little overwhelming.

A lot of people get confused by rushing into the marketing tactics -‘the doing’, looking for immediate sales in return. This is what I would class as a transactional approach, with the custom that you receive being typically short-term, reactive sales resulting in high costs per customer acquisition in the long term.

Anyone who is interested in growing their profits, should know that this is not the best long term strategy for expanding market share. We want to attract clients that will return again and again; fundamentally, their transaction today will be the first of many to come.

Cash flow is a constant worry for any small business, however by building a business around the attraction of long-term customers, you are developing a pipeline for the future. Creating a far more stable and secure foundation to construct your business around.

In this blog, I run through the steps you need to take before rushing into your marketing strategy, so that you can focus your attention and get a good return on your marketing investments.

Identify your targets

I hear it again and again… ‘ But, we want to appeal to everyone’.

News flash! You can’t.

Well you can, but you’ll get nowhere fast, especially without throwing some serious cash at it!

You will get a far better return with targeted marketing materials as you’ve got the opportunity to connect with them emotionally.

First off, identify your ‘dreamy creamy’ clients. They are the ones that keep returning time and time again.  They really value your offering, they bring in the nice profit line and they also don’t have you fire fighting problems all over the place.

Think about what they’ve got in common, the relevant areas will depend on your business but you’ll want to cover topics such as gender, age, location, income, interests, background, job role, home life, career aspirations.

You need to make it more than just a list of bullet points on a page though. I find its helpful to try and create a named avatar that you can picture when implementing marketing tools such as writing blogs or email campaigns.

Ideally you shouldn’t end up with more than five avatars to market your business around. Any more than that you are running the risk of diluting your messaging, you can always change them about in a year or two’s time.

As part of your research there are three key areas that you need to understand, in order to help identify their drivers for purchase, these are your customer’s

  • Fears
  • Problems
  • Desires

Now that you know who you are wanting to attract, you need to use your research to guide your marketing strategy; leading with the customer needs rather your core products and services.

A Brand Audit

What is a brand audit I hear you ask?

In simplist terms, it’s about getting an understanding of where your brand currently sits in the market and its effectiveness in achieving business objectives.

By drawing a line in the sand it lets you take a step back, to see if your current brand is actually positioned to attract your target customers.

It isn’t a quick exercise, but carrying it out will identify the problem areas that you need to address.

Areas to review in your brand audit:

Corporate Information

  • Vision, mission and value statements
  • Unique selling proposition
  • Positioning statement
  • Financial performance and trends
  • Customer service reviews & process
  • Intellectual property
  • HR & Internal communications

Industry Information

  • Competitors
  • Trends and forecasts
  • Industry challenges eg: skills shortages,

Sales and Marketing Information

  •  Corporate identity – logos, strapline, brand guidelines
  • Current & past marketing collateral – print, exhibition displays,
  • Website
  • Social media
  • Content marketing, blogs, videos, whitepapers, Ebooks, Infographics etc
  • Testimonials
  • Reviews

Joining the Dots…

 Once you’ve completed your audit, you’ll be able to analyse if your current brand empathises with your customer avatars and identify the gaps in-between.

It’s only now that you can start to build a marketing strategy that is focused on putting your customers at the heart.

Next time..

In the next blog, we will discuss why education is the key strategy to attracting and building trust with your target audience.