1. Narrow Your Focus
- Don’t try to be all things to all people. You really must find a target market. That may not sound like new news or new information, but it is amazing how easy to fall into this trap.
- Don’t be scattered and ask your self how do I describe my target market. Prospects want to believe that you can be that somebody that can truly fill and relate to their needs.
- The real issue is to overcome the barrier of building trust. They’ve never heard of you. Why should they trust what you have to say? For many people, if they believe you understand them and you take the time and effort to understand them, then you’re able to serve their needs and even more so if you focus on serving others just like them.
- Take a really good hard look at your existing clients and find some common characteristics of your best clients. The best clients are those who really trust what you do, who really value what you do, who really look to your specific expertise in order to bring them the results they want.
2. Know and Communicate a Core Difference
- You can see that this relates to the first step. In many cases, something to differentiate your business can be as simple as serving a very tight niched market. It also can be the way you price, serve or work with your clients.
- Find something that really makes you the obvious choice for your targets and boast about why you’re different. It’s not enough to say we provide quality work for a fair price. This really is an expectation.
- Ask your clients why they buy from you, how they found you, what makes them stay with you, and why they would refer your business?
- Also, ask your self what do you do for a living? Is the answer the same if someone you just meet inquires about what you do for a living?
- Capture a phrase that really tells it in a few sentences.
3. Package Your Business
Again, this is related back to points one and two. You have heard the phrase “image is everything.” It also refers to what people can relate to and creates an image of what you can do for them. This is where a tag line, logos, images, and your website come in to play. It’s your image that portrays what you do and why you’re different.
4. Printed Marketing Collateral
Do you even need that brochure? Maybe or Maybe not…It could be that brochure, flyer, sell sheets, custom letters or presentations. In most cases…Yes, you need them the real question is why and how to use them to assist with educating and building the relationship with your clients.
We tell our clients to boast about why you’re different and the benefits. So what are the benefits if any for your client? Maybe you just need marketing materials to build an image or assist with your sales efforts during a face to face meeting. Maybe it’s a great tool to generate leads with a mailing? Everyone is different and so are your needs. Remember it should support your image and focus. Try to tell a good story and use testimonials. Stories build trust and clients can relate to your benefit. Testimonials and current client lists can also build an image and a level of trust. Make sure your story, benefits, and image are presented the same on your website.
5. Establish Your Lead Generation Methods
It’s probably the most important step for most people. Lead generation must include three main areas: Advertising, a Referral System and Public Relations.
Many small businesses say they’ve tried to advertise, it doesn’t work and it’s a waste of money. For many small businesses, it is a waste. Not because marketing doesn’t work, but because of the lack of knowledge, expectations, planning, and strategy. Don’t use an ad that basically says Call us, Here we are and pick us.
Any advertising you place, ads or direct mail all provide the starting point to close the sales process. Marketing is the first step in building a relationship.
Lets for a minute agree that your offer is excellent for the product or service all at a great price and is truly the better solution for your target. So let us look at two ad messages as examples.
Sample #1 We send you an email or postcard that told you to come to our office and sign up for a marketing training class for only $1,000. It will be well worth it! Would you be interested to call or sign up today?
Sample #2 We are offing you a free marketing tips session? We will give you lots of great information. You will get to know us and what we are about. Now it’s on your terms and won’t cost you a dime. We are still promoting the same $1,000 class and yes we need to go through one more step to close a sale, but it is needed to build trust and to understand the real value in the training class.
Think in terms of creating relationships by providing resources that people can use now or later. In most companies, you need to start by building a relationship before you would ever take the step of asking them to buy from you.
- Generating Referrals:
Here is something to think about. Some of the best people that generate referrals do nothing more than make it an expectation of doing business with you. This positive strong message also continues when they sign up a new client or make a sale. This positive sales culture lets the buyer feel you’ll do just about anything for them and that they have made a good choice working with you.
Use your current client base to generate referrals
Obviously, this is not a bad practice. Who better than somebody who has experienced your services. But in most cases, your clients are not really properly motivated to generate referrals or maybe they really don’t know that many people. We also find that many of your best clients don’t really want to share you; maybe the best referral is their competition. Here again, after some research, you will need to motivate your client base to be successful in the long run.
Generating referrals by developing strategic partnerships
Generally, this works best if both serve the same market or the other partner has a service or product that complements what you do. This also provides opportunities to jointly market reduce costs and improve or expand services.
- Public Relations:
Business owners are often confused and don’t understand public relations. It really is a very important part of marketing. What if somebody else or the media says you’re the best, have something new, or are doing great things? This third party has no real reason to promote you. The perception of value is very strong when the media speaks, all of a sudden it becomes so much more believable for people.
One of the things that you need to do if you serve a local market, is to build a local media list of people, organizations and the media that write about what you do. Think in terms of sending something to them at least four times a year. Remember when you’re trying to approach the media is that it’s not about you. It’s not about your company. They don’t really care to promote your business. What they care about is good trusted information, current issues, their publication, and mainly their readers.
Marketing to the media is much like marketing to new prospects.
You’ve got to take the time to build relationships. Send information or industry trends or maybe how a national story affects the local area.
6. Digital Marketing
Most of your prospects and clients will gain additional information by visiting your website to check you out…So make sure you provide easy to follow information, resources that support your ability to provide a service or product while educating and maintaining a consistent image. One of the great things about digital technology, the web and web sites is the ability to track results and time your marketing efforts.
When using digital marketing it is important to focus on two different targets when planning your efforts. One is prospecting for new clients while building a prospecting email list and second is to keep in front of your current clients and keep them informed. You should have a complete e-mail list of all your current clients. However, in the retail environment, this will take time and continued efforts to keep your list accurate.
Email marketing, e-news and e-zine’s are a great way to inform clients and prospects. It keeps you in front of that prospect because you’re pumping out this publication on a biweekly basis or a monthly basis. However, you will need to have an effective web site. Your website should also capture the email address of people who visit your website and choose to opt-in.
Blogs can also build trust and get you PR opportunities. There are also many social networking options that may be worth the time and most you can also do this your self with a little education and time.
SEO, Links, On-line Networking, Pay per clicks, Views and Pay per Calls are all digital marketing tools that are needed today to continue to grow and will generate great results if planned and done correctly.
7. Live by the Calendar
Time and the Calendar are very important in running a business and effective marketing.
We don’t believe you started your business because you wanted to become a full-time marketing expert. Marketing is an extremely important aspect of the survival of a business and is very easy to shove aside or cut costs to save money in the short term. We call this Harvest Marketing, cutting back on marketing efforts in tough times will reduce expenses and save you money only in the short term. However, that’s when your marketing efforts are more noticeable and your prospects are more likely to look for new options and change.
Having a good plan in place, based on a reasonable budget and using a mix of both conventional and digital marketing methods, is a must! Everyone involved needs to understand the company’s main challenges, goals, and marketing benefits to getting noticed in a cost-effective way.