It is hard out here as a small business and entrepreneur when trying to figure out where to spend marketing dollars in the right place and not feel like it is being wasted. It can feel overwhelming with all of the platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Google and Instagram to advertise on. In order to be a successful business or entrepreneur you must develop a clear marketing strategy and effective one.
If we look at what the definition of strategy – it is the decisions that you need to make so your tactics work better. So in your case, your marketing strategy must have a foundation for creating awareness, generating interest, closing new sales and continuing customer engagement.
Lets look at five marketing strategy tips that can make your business more of a success.
5 Marketing Strategies That Can Help Your Small Business
Finding Out Who is Your Target Customer?
The first decision in any marketing strategy is to define your target customer. “Who do you serve?” always needs to be answered clearly before you can execute any tactic effectively. This should be established in your business plan if you have one or from your target testing campaign. It may take some more testing the market so you have to develop the discipline, but you can’t do effective marketing without it.
Focusing on a well-defined target may make you uncomfortable at first, but stay the course and follow through.
If you are spending time and money on marketing but your efforts are not driving enough sales, the problem is almost always that you haven’t narrowed your target market definition enough to be effective. The narrower you define your market so you can focus on those that you can best serve and those that can best service you, the more effective your entire business will be.
What is Your Category?
Your category is simply the short description of what business you are in. What few words would someone say to describe your business? Starbucks is “high-quality coffee” Chipotle is “fresh Mexican burritos.” My friend’s tax business is simply “tax accounting for physicians in Maryland.”
Most business owners can’t resist over-complicating their company descriptions. This leaves people unsure of what you actually do, which weakens your marketing effectiveness. Here’s a simple rule: If someone can’t clearly remember your category description a month after you meet them, they were never clear about what you do in the first place.
Clearly defining your category helps amplify your marketing and sales efforts. Think of what it would take to be the best – the leader – in your category. You’re not the leader? Then narrow your category definition (or your target market focus) until you are the leader. A focused laser can melt steel at a distance, but the same light undirected has no effect. Be laser-like in your focus.
What Benefits Are You Giving Your Customer?
Your unique benefit should highlight the one (or two) main things your product or service actually delivers (benefits) that your target customer really wants, not a long list of all the things your product does (features).
At In Business SHAPE, we know our customers don’t just want basic cookie cutter training: They want real working plans and strategies to grow sales and save time. We don’t describe everything that we offer in hundreds of ways, we keep our focus on five key benefits in everything we do. And the simpler we describe it, the better our marketing works.
So Tell Me Who Is Your Competition?
When someone is looking to buy a solution to a problem, they will quickly make sense of the alternatives to compare against – your competition. However, most entrepreneurs haven’t specifically defined who their real competition is and don’t focus their messages to create clear differentiation for their buyers. This frustrates the buying decision process and makes your marketing efforts weaker.
You need to be clear in your own mind about what your biggest competition is. If you are a tax accountant, is your competition really the other tax accountants in town? Other CPAs or financial planners? DIY tax software? Doing taxes manually? National tax accounting chains? Each competitor type would create different comparisons, so you need to narrow it down to one or two main competitor types.
So Tell Me What Makes You Different?
Once you have defined your competition, make a list of all the things you do differently and better. Then rank each of them by how important these factors are to your target customer. Pick the top one or two and put them on your homepage and include them in your elevator pitch.
Don’t overcomplicate this. People just want to know one or two things to move their decision along. Is it cheaper? Do you have faster delivery? Best personalized service? Are you the only accountant who exclusively serves physicians in Phoenix?
Do You Have A Real Marketing Strategy Statement Yet?
When you put the five key decisions of marketing strategy in a sentence form, it looks like this fill-in-the-blank statement:
Your company name is the leading category for target customers that provides unique benefit. Unlike competitors, your company does unique differentiator.
Our growth rate doubled when we focused and committed to this clear and simple marketing strategy.
Try it for yourself: Fill in the blanks to create the marketing strategy statement for your own business. Get some perspective from employees, friends and best customers. List all the possibilities and then make some decisions. Say it out loud a few times. You should feel clarity and power coming through. It will also show you a few things you could stop doing in your business that would create more focus.
Can you see why it makes no sense to Tweet, to send a broadcast email or build a new website if you are not clear about your marketing strategy that has laser-like focus? Doing these tactics without a road map – your marketing strategy – will not deliver the right customers and will give you fewer sales than if you had invested the time to implement a focused marketing strategy.
Here’s the real secret that successful companies practice with extreme discipline: Creating a clear marketing strategy is not what companies do after they get big, it’s what small companies do to grow and get bigger in the first place.