4 Marketing Principles Great Small Businesses Always Use
You went into business for yourself because you are good at what you do. There are many facets to running a business, and marketing is right up there in the top five if you want to be successful. Luckily for you, there is a core set of things that business owners who understand marketing do well. So, even if marketing isn’t your strength, here are four things you need to focus on to improve your marketing:
1. Tell A Backstory. The backstory of your company offers customers a reason to believe in what you do. It is the heart of your business and why you started it. Most importantly, it’s critical to create a more emotional connection with your customers. Why does that matter so much? Because that deep emotional connection is what will keep them coming back to you, no matter what shiny new competitor might move in next door.
What You Can Do – Print out your current “About Us” page from your website and read it out loud. How does it sound? If need be, rewrite it in a comfortable tone that is easily understood… or better yet, record yourself telling the story and then write that down. Don’t have an “About Us” page? Create one with information about you, your staff, the business, why you started, and of course, a photo or two. People want to connect with you as well as your product or service and an “About Us” page is a great way to do that.
2. Inspire Word of Mouth. The “Ultimate Question” as the best selling book of the same title revealed, is asking your customers whether they would recommend you to their friends and family. Perhaps the most important version of this question to ask, though, is whether they would recommend you without anyone asking. Are you creating the type of experience that people can’t help talking about, even if no one asks them? Word of mouth is always most powerful when it’s not solicited.
What You Can Do – One of the boldest, but most impactful things you can often do is ask your customers to recommend you to their friends and family directly – even face to face. Either they will do so happily, which is great; or they won’t, which is your opportunity to learn from their experience. Ask yourself what is holding them back as this is probably keeping others from talking about you as well. Try an online survey to collect anonymous information from your customers asking whether or not they would refer you and why.
3. Acquire Dangerous Knowledge. If you have ever heard the expression “knowing enough to be dangerous” – then you’ll understand the basic principle of this advice. When it comes to staying up to date, though, the tempting thing is to just read the trade publications in your space. Of course if you’re a financial advisor, reading The Economist makes sense. Dangerous knowledge, however, comes from the intersection of your field with others. Great innovation comes from that intersection as well.
What You Can Do – Go to a bookstore or even a local grocery store and visit the magazine section. Now pick up 3 magazines for industries that are completely unrelated to your own and that are probably written for someone that has very little in common with you. Read the articles and pay attention to the print advertising. What do they talk about? What sort of tone do they use? Are there similarities between them? Now you can ask yourself the most important question – could you use any of those ideas and modify it to help your business?
4. Share A Personality. One of the biggest problems that large companies have is the perception that they are faceless. The problem small businesses often have is that some owners spend so much time trying to be like the big guys that they forget their natural business advantage; being more human. We love to do business with brands that don’t manipulate us; brands that deal in straightforward terms.
What You Can Do – When a customer asks you a question you’ve been asked dozens of times before, how do you answer it? This can be the most human way to add your personality in how you communicate about your business online and in marketing materials. When we hear your real voice (and not corporate-like business babble), it is much easier to inspire trust and build more authentic relationships. When possible, avoid auto-responders and canned replies. Address your customer by name in your correspondence and always end with a friendly salutation.