CONSIDER YOUR COMPETITIVE SITUATION (a few excerpts from my book, “Take a Bigger Slice”)
When you’re trying to come up with a good advertising plan or overall growth plan for your small business…please consider your competition. Your competition, and what they’re doing, as a big impact on your local advertising efforts.
How many direct local competitors do you have?
If you have more than enough competition, you’ll need to be smart, creative, and find a way to stand out. AND not be such a tightwad with your ad budget. You’d love to spend only pennies and make a big impact – good luck. You wish people would magically be lined up to do business with you… but they don’t. Your competition is trying to attract the same people that you are!
Let’s say you’re starting up a used car lot, and you’re in a city where you have about 65 other competitors. And they all advertise in some manner. Yikes! That means you better think long and hard about your marketing plan. You’re going to want to have a niche of some kind. Or a unique guarantee. And you’ll need to budget adequately for your advertising. A “let’s try this for $500″ tactic isn’t going to move the needle. You’ll need to decide WHO you want to be. What NEED can you fill that isn’t being filled? If you can’t find or create a solution to a problem, I’d re-think opening up that business at all.
A good SEO-only strategy can work a little if people were already familiar with your product or service and they could just look online. And “Poof” there you are staring back at them through their computer screen. But sometimes people don’t even know that the product or service you offer exists, or they need to be informed about the benefits you can provide (and why they should buy from you instead of a competitor), so SEO won’t help much. It’s a tool for you, but not something you can depend on if you’re a local business with lots of competition.
For a quick example, how about plumbers? Or fitness centers (or any business that has a lot of competition)? In my area, there seems to be an overabundance of them. The plumbers have tried to advertise locally, but nobody knows how to help them stand out and be remembered, so they stop advertising. They condemn it.
You need a strategy that people will care about. You probably have something you do REALLY WELL. Take that “thing” and make it your ad strategy (as long as people LOVE that thing in which you do really well).
Fitness centers need to decide if it’s worth charging $7 a month. Can they stay in business for that? I don’t think so. Fitness centers or gyms need to figure out WHY their long-term customers LOVE them. Once you’ve figured that out, center your strategy on it. Maybe all of your long-term profitable customers are within a 15-block radius of your gym. If that’s the case, then why not use Direct Mail to that proximity? Don’t try to make people travel across town to visit you. Maximize your profits at one location and then look for your next location to open. Then, when you have multiple locations you can advertise a bit broader… like with a good radio campaign. But find out the real reason your best customers love you…take that and create your strategic ad plan.
Before you throw up a “Hail Mary” with your advertising, consider your competitive situation. Ask yourself if what you want is even possible given the current state of your business. Should your bathrooms be re-done before you put a penny towards advertising? Do your service guys dress like bums? Are you considered a commodity in your industry? You may need to fix a few things. You might need to create some “Wow” so you have a chance to stand out among a crowd of mediocrity.
Don’t ask for the impossible from your advertising if the potential for it to work does not exist. If your competitive situation is kind of scary…you’ll need to find a way to break away from the pack.
Sure, you can create an ad campaign that helps people remember you versus the others…but what can you offer that will help you KEEP the customers you attract? What stops them from looking for a lower price next time?
If you have a lot of competition, then the little things really matter. You have to be near flawless. You need a unique offering. You need above average customer service. Your employees need to be on board with what you’re trying to accomplish. You need better ads and a bigger ad budget.
Non-Fat Advertising blog