As Small Business Week comes to a close, we wanted to address one of the most commonly asked questions from small business owners: How can I best market my business? There are ways that you can employ “big business” tactics within your small business. The first step in creating a marketing strategy for your business is to know your “elevator pitch”. In other words, if someone asked you what your business does, how would you effectively tell them in less than 1 minute?
The Elevator Pitch
In order to keep your marketing strategy focused, knowing the high-level purpose of your business is the first step. Knowing your elevator pitch is a great way to organize your purpose. The elevator pitch is made up of:
I help….(Who do you help? Who is your ideal customer?)
by doing…(How do you help them?)
so that….(Why is this important?)
For example: Reliant Funding helps small business owners access short-term working capital so that they can grow their business.
You can take the elevator pitch a step further by adding in why you do what you do. This has been proven to invoke empathy, inspiration and connection with your brand.
For Example: European Auto Repair believes a reliable vehicle is necessary for the safety of your family. We provide fast service at an affordable rate so you don’t have to worry about getting where you need to go.
The elevator pitch can grow from here and be tailored to various audiences, but this is a good starting point to your marketing strategy.
Treat customers the way they want to be treated
The second question you must answer is; who your ideal customer groups are and how do they like to interact with a business like yours?
For example: If you make hard hats, you might find that your target audience are ages 35-50 and own a contracting company. So how do they like to communicate and receive information? Is it online or by mail?
Keeping with our example, lets say (after research) you have found that the response rate for your target audience is 30% higher with direct mail then it is via virtual channels. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t market to your target audience via multiple channels, but it does help you budget how your marketing dollars will be distributed.
If you are struggling with your budget and know that you can increase your earnings by increasing your marketing spend, you should investigate financing as an option. There are many ways to obtain small business financing, but short-term financing is a fast way to put capital into your business to see a quick return on your investment.
Have a Content Strategy
Once you have your budget set and have determined how the money will be divided, you can start on the content strategy within each channel. There are many ways to write a direct mail marketing campaign and many ways to attack a digital strategy. What approach you use will all depend on your business.
Steve Kietz, Chief Marketing Officer at Reliant Funding, describes the differences in digital versus direct mail strategies in his interview posted earlier this week. He also advises small business owners to “… constantly challenge the status quo, to test different media and channels. They should always track, never stop changing, growing, and lastly always use math to make decisions.”
When you are testing your different strategies, it is a good idea to approach the process much like you would a science experiment – define, explain how you will measure results, experiment, test and record findings, analyze and adjust. The natural planning model is much like this and can help you organize your thoughts.
We suggest having a natural planning model meeting with your group or if it is just you, you may want to recruit some trusted colleagues to help you. At the end of your session, either by yourself or with others, you should have the scope of each marketing campaign and/or strategy through each channel.
Execute and Test
Set dates for yourself and/or your team to evaluate the success of each marketing activity to record numbers and adjust strategy when needed. You can also run a/b tests through email marketing campaigns, direct mail campaigns and advertising.
It is typically more manageable to test one thing at a time. Marketing requires a lot of patience and tracking but once you find what works, you will see a huge difference in the amount of leads your business acquires.
Use the Tools Available to You
If, during the planning process, you find that you need a tool like a CRM software or a contracted PR person (or you don’t know where to start with direct-mail marketing) there are a lot of companies who specialize in each of these marketing activities that can help.
The key is to do as much as you can on your own and then look to hire external companies to help you when you are stuck. If you cannot afford to hire any extra help due to a gap in receivables or any other reason you should find out what financing options are available to you.
Stopping advertising to save money is like stopping your watch to save time.