We have the distinct honor of meeting with and talking to business owners everyday. We chat with lawyers, plumbers, builders, doctors, planners, bakers and everyone else in between. To see the passion, commitment and expertise these folks bring to therir work everyday in inspiring. To see them repeatedly get their marketing and advertising is frustrating for me, but it could be devastating for them.
So, in an effort to help me avoid frustration and help business owners avoid devastation, I present to you a simply list of marketing fundamentals that apply to every independent, small business.
Nothing is more important to your small business than identifying and understanding your audience. The small business may exist because of the founder’s passion, but that must be translated into something that an audience wants, needs or will pay for. Too often, we meet business owners who are technical experts but have taken the time (yet) to consider the world from their audience’s perspective. Understandably, they’re so caught up in establishing their business, building and running their business that someone’s else’s perspective just isn’t part of their day. Nonetheless, the business owner who fails to identify their audience leaves money on the table and may even be sowing the seeds of their own downfall. It’s worth the time to develop some detailed customer profiles so you understand who you’re business is speaking to, what motivates them and how you can move them to action.
Speak with the motivations, concerns, dreams and desires of your audience, not yourself. This is a major issue we see over and over again. Naturally, the business owner is creating the company’s marketing messages from his own perspective. However, unless his business’ audience is just like him, then he’s missing a major opportunity. Remember, people typically buy based on emotion and then back it up with logic so you need to appeal to their emotions first and foremost. Touch their heart in some way and you’re more likely to close the sale. If that’s the case, then fine-tuning your marketing messages, advertisements and social media updates to be more in line with the emotions, motivations and cares of your audience is paramount to getting more out of your marketing investment.
I know it’s hard to believe, but off-line, real world networking still matters and makes a difference in small business. For some business owners, joining and participating in a local business organization could make a lot of bottom line business sense, especially if they serve a specific geographic area. Meeting people in the real world gives you an opportunity to establish a more meaningful connection, to show off your best side and to create some momentum for your business in the locations it matters most. This won’t be as relevant for a nationwide or international company, but most of the small business owners we work with serve a local region of perhaps 25-35 miles from their location. If that’s the case in your business, then you should be blanketing that area, ensuring your business is easily recognized and well known. Dominate your area!
People love to buy but they hate to be sold. Make it easy and fun for them to buy and they will do so repeatedly. But how do you make it easy and fun for them? Well, first you make it easy. Don’t make them jump through many hoops, especially for an offer that they may not perceive as terribly valuable. That’s another huge issue for many business owners. Their offers, direct response materials, coupons, etc. are lacking anything of significant, real value. From the business owner’s perspective it’s completely understandable, but from the customer’s perspective it makes no sense whatsoever. Make your offer valuable, make it easy to use and make the whole experience fun, positive and memorable. That will lure new people, establish solid relationships and keep people coming back as repeat buyers. Remember, everyone wants to feel good and if you help them feel good, then they could be customer for life which leads us to…
Perhaps nothing is more important for ongoing, positive word of mouth and a steady stream of repeat buyers than stellar service. Your customer may not have have sky high expectations so it may be easy to ensure a positive, memorable experience when dealing with your business. Truly treat every customer like the only customer and you’ll get a sense of how exemplary service is delivered. Hire people that understand this perspective and who can carry out this spirit in your business. Use customer surveys and feedback opportunities to solicit input, deepen relationships and stay on your toes regarding your customers’ needs. It’s easier to keep a current client or customer than find a new client or customer, so what are you doing today to keep your current client/customer/audience happy through stellar service.