Top 7 Things You Have to Know to Market and Grow Your Small Business Effectively
Is word of mouth and referrals enough to grow your business, especially with the economy headed south? My experience working with hundreds of small business owners has shown that while you might get by for awhile solely on referrals and word of mouth, typically that’s not going to be enough over the long haul.
That means you’re going to have to do some marketing and/or advertising.
Sadly, most of the entrepreneurs I've run into spend almost all their time and energy creating, and then working in, their business. To the point that they forget to even think about growing it until after they get established and realize people aren’t just rolling through their doors or making the phone ring off the hook.
Then, when they do decide to start marketing they don’t know what to do. So they waste tons of time and money on tactics and materials that don’t create results. Something you probably can’t afford.
With the economy on the downslide, and people tightening their purse strings, making sure your marketing is effective becomes even more important. Because suddenly you aren't just up against your competitors…You also have to convince people to spend their hard-earned cash at all.
And just running an ad here or there, throwing up a brochure, Website, or sending out an occasional postcard or letter isn't going to do it. If you want your marketing to get results (IE leads, sales, new clients, etc.) you have to think it through and plan it out. Then market on a consistent basis.
Otherwise you'll just end up flushing hours and dollars down the toilet, getting frustrated, and possibly even closing your doors (Ahhh!). To help you out, here's…
7 Things You Have to Know to Market and Grow Your Small Business Effectively
1) Your Target Market
So many entrepreneurs go out in to the world trying to sell to everyone and anyone who might buy what they're selling. But this is an expensive and ineffective way to market a business.
It's like cold-calling by starting with the 'A's in the phone book. Most of the folks you call either aren't going to be interested, willing, or able to buy your product or service. Instead you need to focus on the people who most want what you sell, and have the ability to buy.
2) What They Care About
Everyone has different wants, needs, goals, pains and problems. And we’re all looking for solutions to help us fix a problem, achieve a goal, or meet a need. So once you know who is most likely to buy what you are selling, you need to understand why they would want to.
Once you understand how your products and services can help them, you can speak directly to what matters most to them (instead of what you think is most important). And you can create headlines that grab their attention, ads that make them want to know more, and offers they can't refuse.
3) Your USP
USP stands for Unique Selling Proposition. This is what makes your business, products, services or results different from the competition. And it has to make what you offer seem so different its clear prospects can only get this from you.
Think of it this way…If you don't give people a good reason to buy from you instead of the guy down the street, they probably won't.
4) The Benefits
Most business owners focus their marketing on selling the features of their product or service (the size, shape, speed, power, time commitment, process, etc). But they forget to explain why they prospect should care.
It's easy to think everyone can see exactly why what you are selling is so great. But oftentimes they can't. And you can't expect anyone to take the time to think it through.
Rather than saying: "This computer has a dual core processor" (which means nothing to the average consumer)…Say "The lightening fast dual core processor lets you run more programs and applications at the same time without crashing your computer. So you save time and reduce the frustration that goes with losing files."
5) The Purpose of the Piece
It's not enough to use marketing and advertising just to let people know about your business or what you're selling. You need to know what each piece of marketing should do…And what the reader should do after reading it. Only then can you create a compelling "call to action" (“Call A to get B”, “Click here to learn more” etc.) telling them exactly what to do next.
This is key, because if you don't tell them what to do next, there's no telling what they might do. They might answer the phone, click away from your site, or go fold laundry instead of buying, calling you, or signing up for your free report online.
6) What Happens Next
Very few things can be sold effectively to all people on the first shot. Studies show people have to see your name, ad or promotion a minimum of 7 times just to notice it. Then likely another 7 or more times before they take action (assuming they're even interested in what you're selling in the first place).
Why? Because these days we are bombarded with information. Not only that, people are skeptical. So you have to get in front of them over and over to establish familiarity, then rapport, then desire, then trust, and finally get them to take action (which may not even be making a purchase).
This means you need to know what should happen next in the sales cycle to keep people moving down the path towards buying. Otherwise they probably won't.
7) How to Get Your Message Read—and Responded to
How much junk mail or email do you get that you never even open? And even when you do open it, how much of it do you actually read?
What about Websites? How often do you go to a Website then click away because you can't find what you're looking for quickly and easily?
One of the biggest problems small business owners have with promoting their products and services is their marketing materials don't get read. And even when they do get read, the reader doesn't get what you do or offer, what makes it so great, and why they need it NOW.
This is usually because you try to write it yourself (and writing copy is completely different from how most of us were taught to write in school). Or you hire the wrong person to write it for you.
You see, there are lots of people who hang out their shingle as a copywriter, but couldn’t sell their way out of a paper bag. And even a great writer can’t help you make sales if you don't know enough about your target market, USP, the purpose of the piece, etc. to give them the info they need to do the job.
So spend some time focusing on these 7 things and incorporating into all the marketing you do. If you do it right, and you have something of value to sell, your marketing is sure to start drawing new customers to your business like bees to honey.