“If you can really get these things working for you in your business, then you’re a long way to making your dollar go much further.” Marketing is a central aspect of business but that doesn’t mean it has to be expensive. Here, Michelle Falzon shares the 3 most important marketing lessons to help businesses market effectively on a shoestring.
1. Know what you’re selling!
People often assume that they already know what they’re selling, because it is their business after all. But the key thing to consider here is, try and look at your product in ways that you might not have already. Boil down your product to its bare essentials. You can’t sell something if you don’t truly know what it is. There are a couple of dimensions to what we sell:
- The first level is the actual physical product or service.
- The second level is the emotional outcome that your customer is going to experience as a result.
You need to understand your product beyond what it is literally. You also need to understand the underlying solution that you’re delivering, and the underlying problem that you’re solving. Once you understand these multiple dimensions of your product, you can incorporate them into different layers of your marketing and communications. How clear you are in your own mind about what you sell will affect how well your client understands what you sell.
“That clarity in your own mind will absolutely translate into all of the marketing messages that you deliver.”
The big problem is that is often very unclear. A lot of people just dump information onto their websites. They expect their clients to go through everything and pick out the pieces that are relevant to them. Think about packaging your product in a way that is super clear. Take the concept and think about how you can turn it into a visual model. Don’t make your product invisible; don’t bury it under big chunks of marketing. Be precise. Tell the customer exactly what the product is. No matter how much marketing there is you cant sell it if you don’t know what it is.
2. Know who you’re selling to!
Targeting your audience is absolutely crucial for small business owners. The more specific you are about who your ideal client is, the more effective your marketing will be.
“If you go around trying to be everything to everyone with your marketing you’ll end up being nothing to nobody.”
Often, business owners are scared to narrow down their target market because they feel that they are cutting off the potential clients outside of this, and that a broader target audience will correspond to greater amounts of customers. But in reality this is not the case.
“20% of your clients will give you 80% of your revenue.”
Develop a buyer persona. It doesn’t have to be complicated but you need to write out who your ideal client is. This about that client you love working with, who loves working with you, who pays on time, who is professional, who was easy to attract, who doesn’t complain. Of course you include all of the usual demographics:
- How old they are?
- Where they live?
- What job they have?
- What their income is like?
But you also think about the more personal information that make them interesting:
- What are they reading?
- Where are they shopping?
- What do they like to eat?
- What is their favourite movie?
- What are they afraid of?
- What’s keeping them up at night?
- What are they dreaming about?
- What are their goals?
- What is their biggest problem right now that you can solve?
- What might be stopping them from using your product or services?
Understanding what obstacles the client might be facing is critical in the formation of any marketing for your business. If you need help figuring out exactly who this ideal customer is and what they are thinking about then you can always ask them. If you have a database then draft a survey for you clients to fill out. Customer feedback is the best type of marketing because it is a direct link to the public. You want to find their words and phrases. The public have become immune to marketing speak. If you start using words and phrases that cite specific problems from your ideal client then you’re going to get their attention.
3. Make a plan!
Planning if often thought of as a difficult task for small business owners because they have so many plates spinning in the air that it can be hard to take the time out to do some planning. But plans don’t have to be so daunting, they don’t have to be big at all. Plans can vary from a single A4 sheet to a 3 page document. The size is not the issue, when making a plan you have to be deliberate and you have to be consistent. Once you have a plan you have to hold onto it, and keep referring to it. Position your plan at the heart of your business so that everyone from reception knows exactly what the company is trying to do and what it is doing to get there. Future projections for a company need to be considered in 3, 6 and 12 month increments.
- 3 months – You need to be really specific and have well thought out deliverables.
- 6 months – Have a general map of future plans.
- 12 months – Could be just a rough sketch or dot points but must show some thought about where the business is going