This is part one in a two-part series. You can read part two here.
You’ve risen to every challenge your small business can throw at you, from renting space to staffing, but marketing is still giving you trouble.
There’s no shame in it, a lot of small businesses have this problem. The important thing is that you realize you need help before it’s too late to turn back. Before you can really create effective marketing, you need an effective plan, and one that’s rich in detail. This means more than just a few notes on where to advertise, you can think of it as a grand unifying plan of marketing action.
Here are some tips to get started:
- Check out the competition. There’s nothing like taking a look at the competition for generating ideas. Choose a company that’s a lot like yours and that caters to the same sort of customer. If there isn’t something like that nearby, at least find someone in your niche. Examine their marketing efforts and decide what you like and what you don’t like about it, take note of elements that are being repeated because, presumably, they’re working.
- Determine your target market. It’s easy to go into a business and assume you’ll be the end all be all for everybody, but it’s simply not feasible in our increasingly fragmented world. Instead, dig deep and figure out who it is that you’re really wanting to work with, be that Millennials with children or Boomers with disposable income. You have to know who your market is before you can market to them and win their hearts and minds.
- Develop your brand image. Now that you know what the competition is up to and who you want to attract to your small business, you can focus on crafting a top-notch brand image. This concept will help guide all the marketing you do, from choosing images to determining what outlets you’ll use to advertise. One common way to focus brand image is to choose a slogan that describes your company, another is to define your company’s core values. Some people choose to do both.
- Establish relationships with helpful partners. Although partner relationships aren’t direct forms of marketing, without them your marketing efforts are worthless. Before you accidentally outgrow your ability to maintain your customer relationships, start hunting for partner companies to help you take the load off without having to hire more employees you probably can’t afford just yet. Answering services and 3rd party logistics (3PL) companies are obvious choices for most types of businesses. Other useful allies to have might include marketers, writers and manufacturers.
- Network with others in your field. It may sound crazy, but get to know your competition in a personal way. There’s nothing as powerful as word-of-mouth advertising, and if your competition knows you carry something they don’t, they will be more comfortable referring a customer to your business if they feel they can trust the service you’ll provide. Having a good working relationship with the competition and others related to your niche will never hurt your marketing efforts.
These are just a few marketing musts for your small business. Check out part two in this two-part series for even more marketing ideas!