This is a question that many small business owners encounter and often overlook.
There are so many demands for the money in the business you own or manage. Salaries, rent, parts and materials, taxes, equipment, insurance. All of these come to the forefront when you decide where to allocate your resources. The successful companies add something else to the list of priorities: marketing.
As a small business, one of the most important areas to invest money in is marketing. It is a way to separate yourself from your competitors by increasing exposure and building your brand.
Marketing has changed from hanging a shingle in front of your store to the Yellow pages to today’s high tech world of digital marketing that includes:
-Pay per click.
It is ever changing and unless you make your living in the marketing field it can pass you by very quickly. Like anything else, you lose interest in something that you don’t understand and you tend to put it off.
Below are the steps that I took to achieve my marketing goals.
“If you can’t speak the language of “marketing” maybe you need an interpreter?”
I want to share relevant and engaging information with my business network. However, I am also in my mid fifties and did not grow up spending 10 hours a day on the computer while my parents yelled at me to go outside and play ball! So for me, and probably many more of you, here are 2 distinct ways to handle this:
-Hire a professional who understands your company vision and also the modern day marketing landscape. This is someone who has the ability to take your thoughts and beliefs and convey it to your community. Someone that can help educate you so that you can make good decisions on how much money you need to spend and where to spend it.
-Quit your jobs and enroll in massive amounts of classes, intern at a marketing company, get a job and gain experience, then go back to your companies and handle the marketing…
I have worked with marketing consultants who think my ideas are crazy and they make me feel uneasy when I discuss my thoughts, no good! The individual or company who is doing your marketing should be as sane or insane as you are. In reality, they need to be able to understand your brand, create content that embodies your brand and strategically distribute it.
After several rounds of interviews, I decided to go with Scordio Productions.
AJ of Scordio Productions states, “you must create fictional personas that encompass the various needs, goals and behavior patterns among our potential and current customers…”
My marketing guru decided to create fictional personas – things that a truck repair guy would not think about. I, on the other hand, was just trying to decide who I wanted to communicate with.
Sit down and really think about who you want to speak to while keeping an open mind and trusting the knowledge and experience of your marketing professional.
You should work together with your marketing pro to find the interests and traits of your target audience. You need to understand their age, marital status, income, education, location, hobbies and interests. The better you understand the people you are trying to speak to, the better you are going to be able to meet their needs with specific content catered to them. A professional knows how to do this through research of what people are searching for online and through other resources.
Do not make the mistake of thinking that your target audience is everyone. You can have several distinct groups of people you are engaging, but you need to do your due diligence and understand each of those groups.
AJ Scordio, our marketing expert, says “Once you understand your audience, you can further understand what your brand stands for. Some of the assets you might think about developing include a clear mission, vision, brand and positioning statement. This also gives way into understanding your organizational strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, unique selling propositions and threats in the marketplace.”
I say, “AJ, what the hell are you talking about. I just need you to help me make people understand why we are here.”
After you are done doing this, you are able to create specific content that is cohesive, consistent and will speak to your target audience while being true to your brand. When both of these things are accomplished, you are on the track to an impactful marketing campaign that drives results.
AJ says “before reaching out to clients with your marketing materials, you need to set goals that are specific measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound.”
I say, “Just tell me if this shit is working or not.”
Ask yourself this, what do you want to achieve? Do you want to increase the popularity of your brand? Do you want to collect qualified business leads? Or are you an e-commerce platform that wants to drive immediate sales online?
You need to collaborate with your marketing pro and create goals that are specific. If you are looking for business leads, how many are you looking to collect? What is your budget and timeframe to get that done? Are your goals realistic?
Once you have set your goals you must then establish corresponding key performance indicators to measure your success. This is how you are able to track if your plan is working or not. A marketing campaign without goals is like a football game without a scoreboard.
Only after understanding your audience, your brand and setting business goals and metrics can you begin to create marketing materials that will drive results.
There are an endless amount of marketing channels in which to place this content. Choosing the right mix of channels and implementing the correct tactics on those channels will help you achieve your goals.
Channels include social media (Facebook, InstaGram, Twitter), PPC (search or display), search engine optimization, email marketing (mail-chimp, constant contact) and those are only the ones that you have heard of… there are a multitude more.
Your content should not only be aesthetically pleasing and “on brand” but it should also serve as a platform that attracts and converts the right customer (the people you identified earlier in the process).
Content includes; Websites, Flyers, Videos, Email Newsletters, Social Media posts, E-books, Blogs, Infographics, etc.
The goal of this content is to attract and engage your intended audience to achieve your desired result (see step #4 about defining your success).With Scordio Productions, we created a new website, an animated explainer video, an e-book, and a revamped blog. We made our content more visible online and distributed it through a mixture of email marketing, SEO, Google ads, and social media marketing. These materials were effective because we did the groundwork beforehand.
By tracking your results, you are able to see if your marketing efforts are worthwhile. You can also adjust your campaign and tactics based off of the analytics you are seeing. Again, not what the usual truck repair guy is trained for…
It is important to note that successful marketing is not an instant oatmeal type of approach. It takes time to create and distribute quality content, track progress, understand what is working best and double down on that.
Marketing in this digital age can be complex and often extremely confusing. However, if you set aside the resources, work with a competent marketing person/team and follow the general steps outlined above, you can separate your business from the pack and stand out amongst your competitors. You can be the business that others look at and wish they can be.
After writing the above article I printed it and gave to our office manager Marlene to read and comment. Marlene said: “It makes me proud to work for a company that is focused and moving forward to improve itself, that is something that is important to me.”
Although quantifiable marketing results are crucial i.e. generating leads & revenue, the benefits of successfully marketing your company extend beyond that. You are creating and communicating an image of a company that people will want to do business with and also want to work for.
As you can tell I am not the sharpest tool in the marketing shed, however if you are reading this my efforts are working and so can yours.
So, back to the initial question…
Can you afford to market your small business?
I believe the answer is “You can’t afford to not market your company.”
We want you to trust us with your truck repairs so that you can concentrate on your business. A professional marketing person offers the same relief with your marketing needs.
See you in two weeks!