Friday, February 26, 2016

Five Steps Small Businesses Can Take to Better Market Themselves

Yesterday I was asked if I could share five ideas of things businesses do wrong when marketing themselves.  That sounds so demotivating, so let's cast this as five steps a small business can take to step it up!  Same thing, perhaps, but a better tone.

#1.  Refocus on your target customer.  Too many businesses adopt a philosophy that they serve "everyone" or several different segments at the same time.  It's vital to decide what one, laser-focused segment is your true target and aim marketing messages to them.  If others buy, that's great, but they cannot be the place you spend time and money.  Let's face it: advertising of any kind is expensive and the highest return on every dollar spent will be the customers who are most likely to buy.

#2.  Take a good look at your messaging.   Do the messages you send when promoting, advertising and selling work together?  Can a customer make sense of what you offer?  Can someone clearly describe you, your products and services, and how you can help them?  Can they easily confuse you with a competitor?

#3.  Find that point of differentiation.  Most businesses operate in a highly competitive space where consumers find it difficult to understand how one provider differs from another.  Your messages are much sharper when you can find a way to stand out, positively, from other choices,  Don't make it about price.  Do you have a unique skill? use special raw materials? provide extra value?

#4. Engage with your customers.  Use tools like an email newsletter, blog, social media platform, and video to make your products and services so much more personal.  Create value added by sharing ideas and information, asking questions, and stirring up excitement with contests or special events.  People like to do business with people and every chance you have to engage boosts the chance someone else will refer business to you.

#5.  Be picky with social media.  There are (too) many social media platforms out there and I can absolutely guarantee that not all of them are appropriate for a given small business.  Too many small businesses spend huge amounts of time posting and interacting at too many sites.  How many do you currently use?  Weed out the non-performers and focus on the top three or four.

Bottom Line:  Every business can take its game up a notch.  Can you sharpen your focus, tighten your message, find ways to engage more actively, and stand out a little better?

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