Ever heard the quote by Charles Bukowski, “Wherever the crowd runs go in the opposite direction. They’re always wrong.” Well, for years, as I’ve helped small business owners get over the hurdle and CHOOSE to market their wares, it’s become painfully evident that few understand the power of marketing. When a small business owner finally does take the plunge, they often use tactics similar to what they’ve seen others use, and quite often with results that have them question whether anyone will ever buy what they have to sell. See, they’re doing what everyone else is doing and getting lost in a sea of noise.
I can assure you of two things. First, unless your product or service is so horrible that 8 billion people will all say, “no thanks,” I’m pretty sure you can win. Secondly, you’re seeing and often modeling only a tiny piece of a businesses’ marketing efforts. Don’t lose hope because I’m gonna set you free in this article as well as consumer research.
For years, I was scared to death in my first small business to invest a dime in marketing. Call it scarcity mindset if you want, but it just didn’t make sense for me to waste dollars trying to market my business without any kind of guarantee of a return. To make it worse, when I spoke to more “seasoned” business owners, they couldn’t tell me how their marketing efforts actually benefited the bottom line. Vague comments like, “I know it works, I’m just not sure how, or “marketing is about branding, once you get out there enough, potential customers will remember you” seemed to be more common than anything else.
When I’d ask how much their marketing campaigns costs, they’d tell me an outrageous monthly budget or charge to their company. Then, I heard percentages. “Marketing should be 8% of your gross sales volume.” These answers lead me to more questions, and I just left the whole thing alone for several years. When I finally did make the transition into marketing, I decided word of mouth, corrugated signs, t-shirts, and business cards were the surest bang for the buck.
Yes, it worked…albeit slowly. The trouble was getting in front of the target audience. There was always some conference, stadium event, charity, or random boring network event to attend. Hell, I’d spend half the time meeting people who monopolize my time, and I knew they would never buy or refer me. Looking back, I don’t know how we survived…but we did.
Eventually, I began hearing about online marketing strategy. Yes, having a website and social media presence made sense. What to do with them was the question. So, I made the site, and it became an online business card. Literally, it was one in 8 gazillion websites and still only worked if I told someone of its existence. Social media was like herding cats. It was hard keeping a prospect’s attention long enough to even get a “no!”
To say I’ve been there, done that, and left more skeptical than when I began is an understatement. I was skeptical until I made my first sale online. I’ll never forget how easy it was to make the sale and think, “I wonder how many other new customers I can reach?”
After selling tens of millions of dollars worth of products and services online, I can tell you that I now believe in a marketing plan, especially for small businesses. The main reason is that so many small business owners are being taken advantage of because of their ignorance. It reminds me of how uninformed I was and how it made me suffer for years to get it cleared up.
If this story sounds like you or someone you know…keep reading and share it if “they” need to hear.
How Marketing Research works for a small business owner
First, there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to marketing sustains. This is where brainstorming and talking to others who are successful in a similar industry can really help you for business success. Think about your perfect client and where they invest their time. Anywhere they do, is a potential place for you to be. For most of us, that’s online inside of social media. It certainly is the biggest bang for your buck, especially if you start organically (not paying for ads). What kind of content do your potential customers consume? Do they like funny topic-related things, are they social butterflies, or do they like popcorn and sci-fi films? All of these questions can give you a great indication of what other brands they like, what groups they’re in, and the products and services they buy. If landing a sale is hitting the bullseye, brainstorming, aka market research, is the “broadside of the barn.” You’re getting close to attract customers.
Next, it’s essential to have your website, social media marketing profiles, and communication channels dialed in. It’s also good to consider how you want to get paid…
This becomes the home base. How you communicate actively and passively with consumers interested in what you offer. I personally love social media as sales patterns because it is the most cost-effective mass marketing genre for medium-sized businesses I’ve used. Since the pandemic displaced so many who are now home, social media has become even more effective than ever before. Everyone is getting social…you should too.
Even small business owners are now seeing the importance of social media online marketing because foot traffic has lightened considerably.
3 strategic marketing tips to engage customers in a short period
Here’s where you can use “run the opposite of the crowd.” Seriously, since most small business owners are unaware of what is the most effective way and how to effectively market, you can utilize these 3 tips for small business marketing to begin seeing tremendous results in 90-180 days:
Share Your Stories on Social Media:
1.) Learn to tell a story. All you have to do is remember that everyone is looking for authenticity now. Sharing stories about your family, friends, hobbies, and adventures are still the name of the game on social media. Why not weave this into your marketing strategy too? In fact, we go heavy on the stories…who’d thought people like being entertained, huh?
Instead of boring EVERYONE with a product design picture and your offer all the time, reverse it! Share things about your company that happen every day. Share something about you personally, too. Everyone wants to see what’s behind the veil. They want to see if what you promise on your “ads” for company’s products is what they get all the time.
Show them what you like, who you are, and some benefit your potential customer will remember. The benefit doesn’t even have to revolve around what you sell. Over time, they’ll remember you for sharing it.
2.) If you haven’t joined Facebook groups where your ideal clients are, you’re missing out. Local Facebook groups often have thousands of members. Pick 3-5 towns that your ideal clients live in and join those groups. The way you get the most significant ROI is to add VALUE to the members. You can be the class clown and lighten everyone’s mood, or you can help someone by answering a question in a post. The point is to genuinely help others in the group, and you’ll eventually become someone others get to know. Believe it or not, people will go to your home page and business page to see who you are. If you’ve done step 1 correctly, this is where you’ll begin to really build the know-like-trust effect to follow up sales campaigns.
Eventually, people will refer you within the groups too. Leveraging the testimonials from local group members and highlighting them in a post inside the group is a pretty cool way to show how awesome you are and build brand awareness at the same time. When you do this inside of multiple groups, with consistency, you’ll be amazed at how lucrative a marketing method this is.
Utilize the power of a syndicate:
3.) Utilize the power of a syndicate. One of the most potent tools we deploy on social media is the power of multiple people intentionally helping each other share our messages, tag us in posts when someone is interested in what we sell, and refer strategic partners. You can meet these people in groups and networks that you join of like-minded people and make customer relationships. If seven of you are doing it together, it’s like having six other salespeople on your staff. If you treat these members like gold and bring value to them, they will be lifetime support in your efforts to grow your business organically.
This is just the tip of the iceberg too. When you begin to add targeting paid for advertising online, you’ll find getting prospects is the least of your concerns. Learning how to sell and service consistently is the next step…and for another time.
See ya in the trenches!