Tips for marketing your small business

This morning I had coffee with a friend and colleague who runs a small business. He wanted to pick my brain regarding marketing actions that would help draw sales. Rather than just dump a list of marketing activities on him, I first asked him how his business was going and what activities he was already doing. While I listened, he described the value of his services with passion and a sense I can only describe as “honest integrity”.  I could feel his empathy for his customers and the problems they wanted his help in solving. He also shared with me that he was already executing a number of marketing tactics. The “aha!” moment came when we took a step back to review everything he just shared with me. Here’s what we learned, and what he could do about it.

1. His value proposition was missing. We pulled up his website to find that the compelling value proposition he had just explained to me was not represented on the website, nor anywhere else. The message on the website was one-dimensional, focused on the tactical delivery of his service. There was no “story” used to draw in visitors or prospects. His Yelp listing was nothing more than a name, address, and a few reviews – nothing to give a sense of what he was offering his customers. The good news is that refreshing the homepage with his compelling value proposition will not only go a long way to describing his services, it will differentiate his business from other competitors (especially those who also focus on the tactical delivery service, but not the differences that matter or the overall experience customers expect).

2. Lots of activity, but no consistency. Over the years, he’s dabbled in a number of solid marketing tactics for his small business including, website, Facebook page, Yelp listing, a customer-referral program, e-newsletter, guest writer in the local town paper, and a few other items.  However, there was no continuity or consistency of the messages and offers being communicated. These tactics clearly had been executed one at a time without regard to an integrated marketing strategy. Hence, his messaging appeared random and confusing, and none of them reinforced the compelling value proposition he had just verbally shared with me.

3. He already has everything he needs to be successful. Success is not based on the quantity of marketing tactics used, but on the quality and consistency of the messaging, values, and offers he communicates. While we agreed there were a few other activities worth adding to his list (i.e. promoting his services at local events, offering a promotion on Groupon), most of his marketing tactics were well-targeted, local, and appropriate for reaching his target audiences. What is needed is better continuity and consistency of his messages and offers being communicated. He needed to tie all of these activities into an integrated marketing plan. This plan would help him control the timing and frequency of the tactics he decides to use. Randomness is thereby removed. Best of all, making these corrections and changes doesn’t require a lot of money — just time and a little effort.

How does the marketing plan for your business stack up? If you aren’t sure, start with the simple things first: your messaging and its consistency across the marketing tactics you’ve chosen. Chances are a few small tweaks to your current marketing programs will have a noticeable impact. From there, it is easier to grow your marketing presence with greater confidence.

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