I’ve been asked by quite a few small business owners recently to help them out with something. Except when I talk to them, they don’t really know what they need. They usually don’t know how to promote their business. They have no brochures or leave-behind type of material either. So, they’re kind of at square one in the “grow my business” ballgame.
The first thing that needs to be done is write down all the ways that your product or service HELPS people. Why will they buy it. There are probably lots of reasons, but start writing them down. What situation does someone have to be in to contact you? And how many variations of that situation are there?
Next, you’re going to determine if there’s a reason someone would rather do business with YOU versus your competitors. Do you have a snappier product? Do you offer a service that nobody else does? Do you provide something for free that others might charge for?
The things you’ve written down so far (of course you haven’t because you think just reading this will be enough)…the things you’ve written down are the start of how you’ll present yourself to prospects – how you’ll sell them. It’s raw data that will be refined and beefed up to put into your marketing material.
We’re trying to figure out your marketing STRATEGY. A well-planned strategy will give your advertising more traction. It’s one thing to just tell people what you offer and how you can help them. But it’s far better if what you tell them helps them differentiate you from everyone else. So, to figure out your marketing strategy, you need to take a deep look at your competition.
How are your competitors advertising? Do they claim to BE something? What’s their slogan? What’s their overall message to the public. If they are cemented in people’s minds as the ______ people. Then, you want to NOT be that. You need to be something else. But it needs to be something that people care about. What kind of ketchup is Heinz? It’s the “slow” ketchup. What kind of toothpaste is Crest? It’s the cavity fighter. What about Papa John’s? Do they talk about fast delivery? No, that’s Dominos. Are they a family-type sit-down place? No, that’s Pizza Hut (at least it used to be). Papa John’s wanted to talk about a better tasting pizza. So, their slogan became “Better Ingredients, Better Pizza.”
A marketing strategy takes your competition into account so you can BE something. It allows people to KNOW you as something. What do you stand for? If you passionately stand for and kick ass at something…THAT should be part of your strategy. But not if someone else kicks ass at it too…and most of the public know them for that. I hope I’m being clear on this. Strategy tends to be a tough thing to describe.
I don’t want to know how a big ad agency would describe strategy. I’m assuming they’ll use big words that nobody cares about or even understand. And also sugarcoat everything to make sure that no feathers are ruffled.
If you’re a service business that has lots of trucks to drive around to neighborhoods and fix things (plumbing, drain clogs, electric, heat/AC, etc.), then you have a tough road. It seems everyone is the same. So, if I were to help you with a strategy, I’d first look at the NAME of your business. Don’t overlook the power of a name. Then, you have to dig deep into HOW you operate. I’d recommend figuring out how you can do SOMETHING different from all the others. Don’t be a copycat and think you’re going to make some dough. Why not stand out and really go after a bigger market share? Why not build a business that you can retire from in style? Don’t half-ass it.
If you’re in business, there is ALWAYS someone gunning for your customers. ALWAYS. Think about that. Some business is targeting your customers right now. Doesn’t that chap you just a little bit? Don’t let them. Be the big dog that isn’t afraid to market differently. Don’t be afraid to alter your business model. Don’t be afraid to be unforgettable. Make your competition uncomfortable!
Strategy takes a big look at everything. Inside your doors and outside your doors. Once you find the missing pieces, and even upgrade a few pieces here or there…your kick-butt marketing strategy will do many things. It will help your advertising dollars perform far better, it will help you retain customers longer, it will help you attract better employees, and it will make you more successful.
What can you do right now? Start looking at every part of your business and your competition with a microscope. How does everything match up with what your customers REALLY want? Have you listened to them lately? Better yet…what have you ASKED them lately?