Being a small business owner means you wear many hats. That being the case, the role of marketing guru often gets left behind for more pressing matters like keeping the lights on. The truth is, marketing will help keep the lights on for years to come, but it’s often seen as a risky investment to spend the big bucks to engage a professional firm. Here’s the good news—you can market like a pro!
Here are my three tips to market your small business like a pro.
1. Clarify Your Brand Message
What you say about your business matters. Do you downplay your offerings, or do you make yourself out to be bigger than you are? Small businesses often lack right-sized marketing messages because they focus on themselves, their operations, or their expertise. When defining what your business is all about, it’s important to help the potential customer envision outcomes for themselves.
Marketing guru, Donald Miller, suggests your goal should be to make your customer the hero of their story with your business. In his book, Building a Story Brand, he suggests you define who you are as a business by the journey your customers embark on with you and see yourselves only as a guide on that journey, therefore helping the customer achieve their goals.
Taking this approach to defining your brand helps you connect more immediately to the potential customer’s interest and engage them in a further conversation about how you will help them achieve those goals. Write your brand story in as few of words as possible, forming a positioning statement, elevator speech, or tagline that you can consistently use across all of your marketing communications, phone calls, and informal conversations.
The result should be more immediate connection to potential customers, greater clarity in your organization, and more confidence as you make your sales pitch.
2. Embrace Digital Tools
Digital tools help multiply your success. Your small business has likely been a success for years already and you may say that websites, social media, and email marketing don’t impact your business. But are you missing the positive impact they could be having on your bottom line? Chances are, you are missing opportunities to reach new customers if you aren’t embracing new methods of advertising and reaching out to the public.
Many of these digital tools aren’t nearly as intimidating as you may fear. The world of self-built websites, self-managed online reputation, social media, and digital advertising tools is documented extensively for easy access. My impulse is “when in doubt, Google it.” Take a similar exploratory approach to any topic you feel intimidated by with a quick search in YouTube and you will find many other folks feel the same way you do and have learned a new skill.
Still intimated? Never hesitate to seek out help from third-party firms, Craigslist contractors, or your newly graduated niece. There a many digital natives working in the new gig-economy (read: underemployed) happy to help.
3. Measure Your Impact
Good data makes for good decisions. The biggest difference between how small business owners and digital marketing professionals operate is the habits of goal setting, tracking, and reporting. These practices don’t need to be complicated—simply writing down what your target is will help you discover ways of measuring and evaluating your progress. This measurement regimen also makes it easier to delegate marketing tasks in your organization because there are understood methods of judging success. This accountability is rare in small businesses and even many digital agencies.
What are the key performance indicators (KPIs) for your business? Obviously new customers and overall revenue are the most important signs of business success. Can you draw a line from your marketing efforts to new leads, to successful sales? If not, you need to measure every step of your marketing more closely.
Digital platforms provide their own methods of tracking success from Social Media engagement to website traffic. But if you don’t define how those statistics contribute to your overall business success, you can’t really decide whether you are getting a return on your marketing investments (ROI).
I recommend leveraging a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform to track potential clients, or some other spreadsheet to attribute new sales to specific marketing campaigns or channels. How did you hear about our business? Was it that expensive print ad? Was it our pay-per-click Google AdWords campaign? Was it a word of mouth referral? Being armed with this data will help you make smarter decisions and feel confident in your marketing strategy.
Anyone can be a digital marketer, but if you consistently practice these three tips, you will continue to improve your marketing and transform your business online. Hopefully you will start to see yourself and the marketing expert in your business!