After reading “Is Any Publicity Good Publicity?” by John Mariotti, I started thinking (and rethinking) about marketing. John says the “news media spreads stories in a blink of an eye,” but if messages are so easy to spread, why do small business owners seem to struggle with marketing?
Could it be our mindset? Even though effective marketing is as fundamental to our businesses as the quality of the product or service that we provide, we small business owners have a tendency to put marketing on the back burner. Below are 3 ways to look at marketing to help us shift our mindset.
1. Safe Marketing
Some of us think of safe marketing as “I’ll just market a little bit.” So you toss an ad in the local paper and the Yellow Pages. You pass out some business cards, tell a few friends, hand out some flyers and call it day. You feel kind of good because you did something and didn’t waste your money (hopefully). But it’s the cost of effective marketing that saves your business (and by cost I mean the time it takes to strategize. Hit-and-miss-marketing isn’t good for business in the long run). In my opinion, the only safe marketing is relevant marketing.
2. Relevant Marketing
Does anybody care about what you are talking about? Does it matter to your target market?
What do your customers care about?
Communicating a message that nobody cares about is the worst feeling in the world—and it’s bad for business. A quick way to get started in the right direction is to pay attention to what’s happening in the world around you. Find the events that your target customers care about or would care about if they knew about them. What are the holidays, tournaments and major events that affect them? Discover this, and then plan your marketing around helping your clients and prospects celebrate, acknowledge or participate in that event.
Where are your people?
Relevant marketing also demands that you know where your people (target market) are. Is your target market reading the Yellow Pages? If they are, then buy that ad. Or do they go to Google to search addresses and phone numbers? If they go to the Web for local information, then get into the online directories. Choose to be relevant with your marketing. Talk about what your target customers care about and make sure your information is listed in the key places that they naturally go to.
In “How Objections to Social Media Are Killing Your Business,” Ivana Taylor says that “one of the most common objections to social media is that it’s a fad–here today, gone tomorrow.” But, if it’s here right now and relevant to your target audience, then use it to your advantage, and connect. Social media is not not the only tool in your marketing mix, but it’s one of them. Come up with a strategy and get started. The cool thing about being a small business owner is if it’s not working, you can tweak it quickly.
In “7 Facebook Contest Ideas for Small Business,” Janet Thaeler gives some great ideas to help you use contests to grow your Facebook page, including “tie your contest into current events.”
3. Consistent Marketing
When I say consistent, I don’t mean doing the same old boring things over and over again. I mean that your marketing strategy is consistently applied. You must consistently take the time (at least quarterly) to evaluate and reevaluate what you are doing and how effective it is. Do more of what works — because it works, not because you have always done it.
Effective marketing is strategic and it takes a lot of effort upfront – but it pays for itself on the back end.
Fantastic! This article is right on the mark. So many small business owners pick one marketing method and then wait for it to provide results. Marketing is more than that – it’s a strategy that revolves around value, target market, and message.
You really nail the salient points of effective marketing. Thanks for that!
I like what you said about “relevant” marketing. You wrote, and asked, “does it matter to your target market?”
I’ll add this;
Don’t use any industry jargon that may confuse your target customers.
The Franchise King®
Interesting take. Being relevant really is such a big part of it. It’s said you need to “enter the conversation going on inside your prospects head.” Since they’re often not thinking about your company or the interests your company serves, sometimes you have to cleverly merge things like current events, holidays, etc. with the passion that your company fills.
Thanks guys 🙂
Jamilla, great article! I really appreciate the way it was boiled down to its essentials without all the unnecessary industry jargon (as Joel so succinctly mentioned).
My only criticism doesn’t come from the writing or the information but the picture with the glasses at the top which to my brain is incongruous. If the glasses are because you’re farsighted, his fingers shouldn’t be in clear focus and his face should be in clear focus, not blurry. His face inside the lens should also be clear, but magnified. If you’re nearsighted, his fingers and part of his face inside the lens should be clear and the rest of the face should be blurry.
I understand the point of the picture is perspective and I don’t mean to harp on it for the sake of complaining, but from a marketing perspective, for me, it diminished from an otherwise clear and concise product.
I guess the analogy I can draw to the case the point is to make sure your marketing makes as much sense you up close and detailed and long-term, as it would from your client/customers perspective.
Excellent article. I’ve worked with small business owners for many years. Marketing is almost always a huge weakness. Many companies with excellent products or services fail to succeed because of poor marketing. Usually they have no clue what effective marketing is.
Many business owners somehow think they’re marketing experts, even though they would never consider themselves experts in accounting, law, or other disciplines. They tend to believe all they need to do is use their “common sense” in marketing. That usually leads, instead, to common mistakes. Far too little marketing. And the marketing they do is ineffective.
Your article popped up on Innovation Daily and I want to make a comment.
First, marketing is not advertising. It is not promotions. It is not a message. Marketing is finding customer problems and solving them in new ways that deliver new customer value.
Second, marketing and innovation are the 2 main things a company does all the time, every day.
Third, social networks are channels of distribution and influence. They are a different form of getting the message out and promoting the solution.
Finally, marketing is about developing the proper channels of distribution, long term alliances and partnerships, and developing growth platforms. It is the balance of all these things, not a cool ad, slogan or any other gimmick. It is what business does to exist, i.e. get customers.
As a small business owner in the construction industry marketing is so much more critical now, but unfortunately the back burner mindset is breaking so many small businesses that were use to work just falling into their laps. I like many am having to adjust to the current situation and finding that it is vital to readjust that mindset.