Along with your business plan, your small business marketing plans is only of the most important long-term plans you’ll make for your small business. getbusinesstoday Some small business owners choose to ignore that advice, instead preferring to fly by the seat of their pants, so to speak, to “wing it.” While some of those small business owners are successful, they’re not nearly as successful as they could be had they laid out a well-defined small business marketing plan.
Small business marketing strategy step 1: Know your market
The first step in developing a successful small business marketing strategy is to make sure that you have a really solid handle on your target market. Ask yourself: Who are my customers? Once you’ve identified who they are, ask yourself: What are my customers’ problems? What are their dreams and aspirations? The surest way to answer those questions, of course, is to ask your customers themselves. Even if you can’t afford to hire a small business marketing firm that will conduct focus group tests for you, you can do your own simple survey by hitting the streets and talking to those people you plan to sell to (and make contacts at the same time!). You’d be surprised how powerful that simple task is yet how few businesses do it.
Small business marketing strategy step 2: Know yourself
The second step in developing your small business marketing strategy is to get to know yourself (your business), once you’ve gotten to know your customers. Ask yourself: What does my business do? How is my business different than my competitors’? How does my business help solve my customers’ problems or help them achieve their dreams? Answering these questions will help you to define your unique selling proposition – those aspects that set you apart from your competitors.
That unique selling proposition should become your brand – your business’s identity. Your brand is what will pervade all of your marketing materials and what your customers will use to identify you. The importance of diligently developing your brand as part of a successful small business marketing strategy can’t be overstated.
Small business marketing strategy step 3: Analyze your competitors’ small business marketing strategies
Once you’ve developed your brand – that unique identity that tells your customers who you are and how you’re different – you can begin thinking about how you’re going to actually market your business. First, look at your competitors’ small business marketing strategies. Are there obvious gaps that you could fill (and thereby stand out among the competition)? For example, if you see that none of your competitors have websites, you could stand out with a small business marketing strategy online.
Wherever you market your business, it must be where your customers are. For example, small business marketing online will be a waste if none of your potential customers use the Internet. Likewise, you may think that writing a monthly column in your local newspaper would be a great way to advertise your services and establish yourself as an expert; but if none of your potential customers read that paper, that small business marketing strategy will fail.
Running a business requires you to wear many hats, be in numerous places at once, and keep multiple balls in the air. Not only must you keep up with the rigorous demands of working ‘in’ your business, if your goal is to build a solid, valuable business, you must also continuously work ‘on’ your business.
Marketing is one of those things that could be considered working on your business. In fact, marketing is quite possibly the MOST important working on your business activity you could be doing. This is mainly because without marketing, it’s extremely difficult to get new customers. Without marketing, it’s extremely difficult to get more business out of your existing customers. In other words, without marketing you won’t be in business for very long.
So what kinds of things should you be doing to continually market your business and keep it moving along?
Here’s a quick list to give you some things to think about:
1. Creating and sending out marketing campaigns (postcards, letters, flyers, etc.)
Marketing is a year round activity. In order to keep a constant flow of customers coming to your business, you need to be constantly presenting prospects with your products or services. Sending postcards, letters, or flyers is a great way to build name recognition that will keep a steady stream of prospects flowing your way.
2. Creating and sending a newsletter, ezine, or other communication to your existing customers
The biggest reason a large majority of customers leave a business is not due to poor service, an error, or some other misunderstanding. Believe it or not, the biggest reason customers leave a business results from feelings of apathy. They just don’t feel like the business would know one way or another if they left or not.
In order to stop these feelings of apathy from happening, you need to find some way to maintain contact with your existing customers. A monthly newsletter or weekly ezine are excellent ways to keep in contact and remind them how valuable they are to your business.
3. Creating new ‘widgets’ or packages you can present to new or existing customers
One key to building a solid, long-term business is to continually sell to your customers. If all you’re doing is finding new customers, you’re leaving boat loads of money on the table.
In order to keep selling to your existing customers, it’s critical you continually present them with new products, services, and offers. Creating new ‘widgets’ out of your existing offerings is a great way to repackage what you already sell.
4. Putting together valuable offers for presenting these ‘widgets’ to your new or existing customers
You need something to motivate your prospects and customer to buy and there are few things more effective at this than presenting them with valuable offers. Don’t just list the services you offer. Present them in a way that excites, interests, and motivates them to take action.
5. Writing articles to submit to local newspapers to enhance your status as the lawn care expert
People love to work with experts because it’s easy to put your trust in their knowledge and experience. While you are most likely already an expert in the services you provide, if no one knows it you’ll have to work twice as hard to demonstrate just how knowledgeable you are.
Writing articles for your local newspaper or other publications is an excellent way to quickly establish yourself as the local expert. The buying public puts a lot of stock in what they read in the paper and when they see your company name next to an article about your field of expertise, you’ve bridged a gap with your prospects and customers that will make selling your services infinitely easier.
6. Calling current customers to make sure they’re satisfied with your service
As sad as it is, customer service is almost non-existent in today’s marketplace. The simple act of picking up the phone to call your customer and find out if they’re satisfied will go a long ways towards creating a lasting the relationship.
7. Meeting with other service providers, not competitors, about forming a joint venture
The most difficult part of marketing is capturing the attention of qualified prospects. All around you are businesses providing services to the exact customers you’re trying to reach. Getting in touch with these other businesses about doing some cross-marketing is an excellent way to effectively get in front of countless prospects that you may not be able to reach otherwise.
8. Performing service or charity work in order to create some goodwill for your company’s name
Just as people love to work with experts, they also love to work with people that are about more than just making money. Performing service or charity work within your community is a powerful way to build a reputation as a company that gives back to others. When your customers and prospects see this, it builds goodwill that will carry over to increased business and profits for you.
9. Learning about direct marketing in order to enhance your knowledge and ability to better market your business
Even more important than providing your product or service is learning how to market your business. With no new customers, you won’t have anyone to provide a product or service to. That’s what makes learning HOW to market your business vitally important to your ability to reach the goals you’ve set.
Here’s a list of 9 different things you could be doing to help move your business forward. Each one of them individually will surely create positive results. However, done together the results will be phenomenal and you’ll soon reap the benefits of these working ON your business activities.
Chestin Salisbury is President of Lawn Care Marketing Magic, a direct response marketing company located in Charlotte, NC that focuses on the lawncare and landscaping industry. He has been helping small businesses grow for 7+ years by creating marketing systems that use time-tested direct response marketing principles. Lawn Care Marketing Magic has access to 100+ years of experience and will help you create a marketing system that grows YOUR business 100-500% within 120 days or less. Guaranteed.