As someone who trained and spent the last 15 years in marketing roles, it’s incredibly flippant for me to say how easy it can be to market your business.
Often the word marketing makes small business owners want to recoil to the foetal position and rock back and forth until they’re no longer thinking about how they’re going to wow with their next Instagram story. It’s something that I equate to how much I hate the accounting side of business. But after finding an excellent accountant to work alongside, I quickly realised that it’s not as bad as it seems. Same goes for marketing… honest.
In reality, there’s no secret formula. The biggest hurdle you’ll face is getting past your fear of all things marketing. Learn to love it, and it will love you back.
The first thing I want you to do is to take all the words you’ve heard like this:
I want you to take them and I want you to put them in a little box up in the loft next to the Christmas decorations, right where you’ll never need to look or think about them again.
Because let’s be real for a moment. None of that actually means anything. Let’s leave all that awful corporate jargon where it belongs. Far away from you, on a memo somewhere, next to the any other business bullet point.
As a small business owner, all you need to know about marketing is that it’s actually a term that some GENIUS came up with back in the day, that actually just means common sense. So if you have common sense, which I’m pretty sure you’ll be stocked full of if you’ve gotten this far in the owning your own business malarkey, then you’re all set. Now let’s tap into that common sense to create you a marketing plan.
For me, it can be broken down into three fairly simplistic areas that you need to consider. These will get you to a point where you feel you’ve got a grip on marketing your business.
"The set of physical attributes of a product or service, together with the beliefs and expectations surrounding it - a unique combination which the name or logo of the product or service should evoke in the mind of the audience."
A brand, put simply, is you. As a small business owner, often starting out as a sole trader, a brand is all you. Think about it: you live, sleep, eat and breathe the business from the minute you wake up to the minute you go to sleep. And that is the brand.
When someone asks you what you do for a living and your eyes light up at the thought of spreading the joy of your business, that’s the brand.
When a customer sends you an email and you think about how best to respond to make sure that they continue to be a customer, that’s the brand.
When you’re picking a design for your latest flyer, a layout for your website, or the next sure-to-be-super-successful Instagram post. That’s the brand.
Write it all down. Get it all on paper and you’ll soon start formulating your brand values. They don’t need to be super refined, or written by the world’s most talented copywriter. They need to make sense to you and really embody all the principles you want for the business.
Figure out how you want customers to see your business and then see how they actually see it. The best way to do this is through reviews. Have a look at what people are taking the time to write about your business in terms of feedback. Reviews are a goldmine of information about how you’re coming across as a brand.
Is it your innovative products that people like? Is it the way you go above and beyond to deliver excellent customer service? Or is it something about how you use your voice as a business that they love? Take the positive points out of reviews you’ve received and start grouping them. You’ll start seeing patterns that will be the foundations of your brand values.
Once you’ve got these written down, you can start reviewing things like the copy on your website, your email newsletters and social media activity to make sure that they’re all aligned nicely. And so your brand building begins.
"The methods used by a company to communicate and interact with its customers."
OK, so this one’s not quite so terrible. Fairly straightforward, but really important to get organised so you can have all your ducks in a row. A lot of people think of marketing channels as just emails, social media and advertising. But it’s so much more than that.
Your channels are every single time, way and variation of how you communicate with current customers, prospective customers and all the people that are involved in your business.
Every piece of product design, the way you communicate over the phone and email with customers, the banners you use on your website, the events you attend and the list goes on. They are all channels. And you’re not going to realise how much marketing you’re already doing already until you see all of these laid out in front of you.
Get organised. Like not just get it all lined up in your head. Actually get organised. My go-to tool is Trello. It’s a very visual way for you to look at all the different channels that you’re already using, the ones you want to introduce and the ones that perhaps need refreshing or binning off all together.
You’ll be amazed when you see them all laid out like that. You’re channel marketing is no doubt in full swing already, but until you get it all out on the table, or Trello board as the case may be, you’re not going to have a handle on everything. Once you see it all, you can use the work you’ve done on creating brand values and developing your brand on each and every one of them.
"Measurements that help with the quantification of marketing performance, such as market share, advertising spend, and response rates elicited by advertising and direct marketing."
Oh lord. Not this again. QUANTIFICATION? Are you actually serious? Is that even a word?
Metrics are just a fancy word for evaluation. And evaluation is the SINGLE most important part of your marketing. That’s right. It’s the big dog. And, more often than not, it’s the one thing that no one is actually doing.
How many of you buy something from Amazon and leave a scathing review if it doesn’t meet your expectations? Or when you go to a new restaurant and it’s fab, how many of your friends do you recommend it to? What you’re doing is evaluating how you’re spending your time and money. And do you do that for your business? Don’t lie to me, I know that you don’t.
Let’s take this as an example. You’ve just built yourself a brand new website. You’ve spent hundreds, if not thousands of pounds on the design and development of your new site. You send an email out to everyone you’ve ever met in your entire life to show off your new piece of kit and then you move onto the next thing on your list of things to do. Six months later, the website is still the same and you’re still scratching your head as to why you haven’t been able to grow your customer base.
Well duuuuuuuh. You’re not evaluating. What do you expect?
Get busy with downloading some apps, add-ons and free web tools. For every piece of marketing you’re doing, figure out the following:
When you have those three things down, then you have your objective, metric, cost per acquisition. In normal talk: Reason, evaluation and what it cost you to get that action.
Was it really worth £100 to get 3,000 people to like your Instagram post if your objective was to get more sales? Or did your email get a great open rate, but not so many click throughs? What was the reason for sending it in the first place? Until you start looking at statistics for your marketing you’re not going to be able to answer any of these questions very well.
Andy is the owner of Bettie Confetti, a snarky greeting cards line available at Not On The High Street, Etsy and select independent retailers in the UK. For cheap and effective tactics to help you promote your business online, download our digital marketing on a budget ebook.
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