You get your message in front of the (generally) “right” group of people and then keep getting in front of those most likely to desire or need what you offer.
Over a period of time, you establish trust by revealing how you can serve your customer.
It begins to get “personal” when your ideal customers understand how you help them reach their goals or solve a problem.
And finally, your marketing pays off. You make a sale.
That’s how marketing works, basically.
Unfortunately a lot of marketing-speak sends the small business person into a tailspin, thinking you have to do everything all the time. You’re convinced you must attract the attention of millions of people every day, when maybe all you really need are a few new clients each month.
Have you ever seen those home improvement shows where they take a high end designer room and show you less expensive options for each element of the room? The handmade designer lamp is replaced with a similar looking one from Target. The furniture arrangement is replicated exactly so the space is used the same way. The palette and style is kept similar across both the high and low ends. The look and feel of both rooms are almost indistinguishable from each other.
If you don’t have a huge marketing budget, look at your marketing strategy with the same eye. “Splurge” on the stuff that gets a big result, and cut costs elsewhere.
Marketers can get pretty wonky. Sometimes when I start thinking about marketing as some big complicated animal, I take a step back. I hate to think that a busy entrepreneur or small business owner could start buying into the idea that before you can start to tell people what you do…
- first you must research
- then survey
- then study
- then get everything lined up just perfectly
- then come up with a HUGE budget — before you can truly connect with the people who have money and inclination to purchase something from you!
That’s just not true.
“Use What You Have” Marketing
The best way to start is to just use what you have.
Here’s what set me off today. See, I’ve been learning about buyer personas. More than a profile or a demographic, a buyer persona tells a story about the specific customer who would be most likely to buy from you and benefit from your products.
It’s kind of like a fictional character development an author might do. Just like fleshing out a character, creating a buyer persona requires you to you fill in details until you have a detailed picture of who your ideal customer is.
Most of the information you’ll find about buyer personas involves getting input from scads of sources: people who somehow fall into the market you serve, your current customers, even the people who don’t like your product. Only when you’ve pulled enough information out of all these diverse people will you start to see some similarities among your most likely customers and how to present your offer to them.
Sounds like a lot of work, doesn’t it?
One slide show I viewed about buyer personas even went so far as to suggest that creating them should be the exclusive practice of certain professionals: “This poses a real dilemma for senior executives to choose the right people to be involved in buyer persona development efforts with the intent to inform strategy and one they must get right.”
Does that mean you need highly qualified and trained people to ask these questions? In other words, “Don’t try this yourself at home.” Yikes!
I don’t know about you, but as a self employed small businessperson, I’m as highly trained to ask questions as the next guy. So are you, especially if you’re the one standing behind your services. You just decide what you genuinely want to know, and you’ll figure out a way to ask the right questions.
That’s just how micro-entrepreneurs and small biz folks roll…we jump in. Sink or swim. Try again.
You probably already have what you need to market your small business on an effective (but small) scale.
One thing to remember about marketing online: A lot of information is geared to larger businesses where part of the challenge is getting messaging right across a lot of departments, from the top down. But a marketing process for a large company probably doesn’t make sense for the small business or entrepreneur.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t take advice and learn all you can from marketing professionals. Just that you don’t have to stand in one place if your budget is small.
Here are FOUR marketing elements a small business can rely on:
- Establish goals — that’s crucial. Decide what you want: 100 new followers on Facebook next week, or 50 new sign-ups to your email list, or 10% more traffic to your shop, for example.
- Follow your intuition, based on your experience; always a great guide, at first.
- Identify trends that others are using, especially in a similar business. If you’re in direct sales, watch what successful leaders are doing, even outside of your company. If you’re in the retail fashion business, follow your competitors successes and failures. Envision similar marketing tactics for your business. If you think it might apply, try it.
- Test what you just tried against something similar. If you spend $100 on Facebook ads, try $100 on Google Ads. If something isn’t working, change it up. If it delivers, try to improve on it by tweaking one small thing.
Just don’t let anyone tell you a marketing tool or strategy is beyond your means. Use what you have and start there.