In the business world, improvising will only get you so far. Instead, what you need is to find reliable and dependable methods. In other words, you need a method that will work nine times out of 10, not one that will work one time out of 100. This is why you need a marketing strategy.
While some may find the art of influencing your target audience to be too unpredictable, the truth is that, like in any other field, the same actions usually give the same results. While strategies differ from one another, there are a couple of steps that will reliably get you where you want to be.
Now, running a strategy as a small business means that you’ll have to face greater adversity. Your marketing budget is smaller, you have less market presence (at the start), and it seems like all of your competitors are way ahead.
Here’s how you can create a marketing strategy that will allow you to win against all this adversity.
Budget Vs Price
The first thing you need to do is make your marketing budget. Generally speaking, your marketing budget should be 10% to 50% of your total annual revenue. Now, keep in mind that while the margin between 10% and 50% is huge, not all industries are as competitive.
This is often balanced out by the fact that service industries (which have a lower supply investment) have a higher need for marketing. Since the quality of the service is harder to compare than the quality of the product (it’s more objective to compare features than experiences), your customers will need more convincing.
Now, the marketing industry prices are not always concerned with how much you are willing to spend. The prices are what they are. Even though you may be able to lower the cost a bit, it won’t deviate by too much from the original offer. So, you need to conduct market research in order to see what the digital marketing agency that you plan to hire will charge. Having a reference point is essential when trying to make an estimate of a deal.
Some people make the mistake of believing that they can save money on marketing by just handling it DIY. This is not a good use of your time and resources. While you could, technically, achieve some results, this would:
- Get you off your regular duties
- Give you a limited effect
In other words, just going with professionals is far more cost-effective.
Work on Your USP
Creating a Unique Selling Proposition (USP) for a small business is always challenging. You see, it’s obvious to everyone that the tools that you’re using cannot be compared to the million-dollar equipment used by major conglomerates. What you can focus on, instead, is that you try harder or that you have fewer clients, which allows you to give them more attention.
Remember that you’re not just competing against the top dogs of the industry. There are other, local, small businesses that you’ll have to outcompete. The reason why this selling proposition is called unique is due to the fact that it focuses on something that your competitors are failing to mention.
For instance, if both you and your competitors claimed that you offer superior service, it would be up to the customer to decide who to trust. However, if you offered an extra service, a unique discount, etc., this would be an objective (concrete) difference that one can put a finger on.
Remember that, in marketing, it’s not just about the meaning of the message but about its format, as well. So, you need to be very careful how you present this message. For this, you’ll need to incorporate some storytelling techniques into your marketing strategy. Make a story where the customer is the protagonist, and your small business is merely an instrument used to solve the problem they have and progress in the story. Quite simple but incredibly effective.
Research Your Customers
In order to ensure that the message sticks, you need to know to who it’s addressed. Sending a written message to someone who’s dyslexic wouldn’t have any effect, no matter how convincing or stylistically sound it is. This metaphor applies to the world of marketing, as well.
First, you need to determine what kind of technical knowledge your client base has. Using too many technical terms may confuse them, while being simplistic in your explanations may create an impression that you aren’t that skilled to begin with. To some, it might even feel too condescending. Now, knowing who you’re talking to helps set the tone and voice of your message.
You also want to know their demographics. This affects so much, starting from their preferred medium. People of different ages, sex, and education have a tendency of preferring different platforms. So, by learning who you’re talking to, you’ll also get an idea of how to reach out to them.
Next, you need to acknowledge that there’s a discrepancy between how you believe your product is used and how it’s actually used. So, you need to go out there and try to follow your product post-sale. The feedback that you get will help you improve the product but also allow you to boost your marketing message by a significant margin.
Remember, everything you do will be evaluated by your audience. So, getting to know them might just be the best first step in your effort to craft a marketing strategy for your business.
Work Hard to Retain Customers
Now, while there are some one-sale industries out there (when you sell a chess set, chances are that the person in question won’t need another one in their lifetime), this is not a norm. The fact is that the majority of industries rely heavily on return customers. In fact, according to some surveys, about 80% of your profit is generated from just 20% of your regular customers.
From the marketing standpoint, recognizing these return customers is incredibly important. You see, it takes five times less money to make a customer return when compared to what it would cost to attract a new (first-time) customer. This means that, by targeting the right group, you can make your marketing grow your revenue with just a portion of the investment that other businesses are making.
Naturally, your customer service plays a huge role here. They’ll be the ones interacting with the customer directly, which means that they’ll be the face and the voice of your industry. To improve this experience, you need to:
- Give them more control over the experience
- Answer every question they have (no matter how small, insignificant, or outright ridiculous)
- Ask for their feedback and actually follow up on it
- Craft a great post-sale follow-up
In order to make a good impression in a competitive industry, you need to be proactive. This is how you do it. Another thing that impacts the overall customer experience is definitely the pragmatism of browsing through your offer. For this, you need a great product page, a simple interface (responsive for all devices), as well as a chance to buy without having to register.
In the end, making a marketing strategy for a small business means that you’ll have to be extra resourceful. Your main objectives are to draft a budget and do some research. While researching, you’ll have to survey the market, your competitors, and your target audience. Then, all that’s left is for you to identify your USP, and you’re ready to go. Naturally, you want professionals to draft and send this message for maximum effect.