I don’t know about you, but as a small business trying to grow, marketing has always taken a back seat to other demands within the business. What an oxymoron! Imagine trying to grow your business without considering marketing at all… yet we all do it.
I suspect much of the resistance to progressing our focus onto this simply stems from the fact that we are in the business of running our own business and for most of us, our business is not in digital or print marketing. So what do we do when we aren’t confident in a task? Procrastinate. Obviously. We use any spare time we may find to review important topics such as; ‘cute animals doing cute things’, watch national yoga and spend countless hours formatting that spreadsheet you’re not being paid to format. Although to be fair, a poorly formatted spreadsheet is sacrilege. I like to call this marketing for small business, Phase One.
Once we have finally woken up to the inevitable, we seek the advise of our modern day oracle – google. This search leads to a plethora of advise – all a little different from one another. Congratulations, you have now progressed to Phase Two of small business marketing attempts. Otherwise known as the ‘bugger this’ phase (go straight back to Phase One, do not pass go and do not collect more business along the way).
Lucky for most entrepreneurs I know, we do have one very handy skill. We have a relatively short attention span to attempts of trial and error (read an ability to move on very quickly from what doesn’t work). We are able to blindly follow our nose to the next brainwave of success which visibly (yet precariously) balances on the horizon. Phase three, we usually also have absolutely no qualms in asking for advice from fellow business owners (or anyone who looks vaguely like they might know something). I was lucky enough to be able to come across some excellent advise which has sent me on a path of totalsuccess (note positivity noted above).
Phase Four – I simply had to accept that this process was not going to be much fun and much like algebra in year 12, I just had to do it…
The ‘Good News’
The small business development corporation has a great 8 step process for starting up. Yes, some of them you’ve seen before, however these are the steps which you simply have to take. Jumping into digital or other marketing avenues without going through these steps is more than likely going to lead to an unsuccessful marketing campaign which will leave you with a sour taste in your mouth and a bank account to match. Sorry.
Step 1: Conduct your market research. Identify your top 3 competitors and have a look at what they are doing. Talk to existing customers, as them what they needed or still need.
Step 2: Profile your target markets. This was a tricky one for me. My answer to this was … all of them! The advise was, choose. They don’t have to be the target forever, but you need to choose. A broad brush simply doesn’t produce results. Consider geography, demographics, behavior and lifestyle.
Step 3: Identify your unique selling proposition. Even if you have hundreds of competitors, you went into business for a reason – you wanted to provide goods or services and produce results for your customers. Every business has a uniqueness of service. You need to find yours.
Step 4: Develop your business brand. Whether we like it or not, our brand is important. It needs to talk to people, it needs to encourage people to want to engage with you, it needs to be consistent and it needs to look good.
Step 5: Choose your marketing avenues. There are so many ways we can go with this, try to work with a professional who can give you the best result for the least investment, particularly early on. Website, SEO, promotional material, advertising, donation & sponsorships… the list goes on.
Step 6: Set goals and a budget. This might be the hardest for small business owners. Many of us will say ‘what marketing budget?’. We have not had the experience to know how much we need to spend for the results that we are looking for but we need to be willing to spend for a few months before the results and a return on investment start to show.
Finally – a shameless plug to Angela Han @ Media On Mars (https://www.mediaonmars.com.au). If you want results, that’s all you’ll get with these guys.
Words of wisdom, over & out!
But seriously, watch National Yoga….