Marketing is for Everyone
Business owners and professional alike are ‘in business’.
If you are an owner, providing a service or product that generates income is your business. If you are a professional, your employability and ability to generate results are your business. The following Marketing tips are aimed at business but the approach is as applicable to professional individuals.
Note where it all starts – not with your product.
Understand your Market and your Competition
Is there a market that wants what you sell? Is there enough opportunity to run a profitable business? What about the competition? Is there so much that it will be virtually impossible to get enough market share to run a profitable business? How has your competition positioned itself? Are they under-serving a segment of the market that you can serve? If your competition is zigging, can you zag? And zag profitably?
Understand your Customer
Who are they? Where are they? Why do they buy? What motivates them to buy? How do they buy? Where do they buy? How do they get their information (trade magazines, search engines, industry blogs, social media)? Who makes the buying decisions? (lady of the house, the father, the procurement manager, CEO).
Pick a Niche
The world is big, really big. You cannot be everything to everyone. Narrow your focus to a very select target audience that is easily identifiable and easy to contact. If you are a mechanic, specialise in repairing one specific type of vehicle. Not every vehicle in Melbourne. And don’t forget – you can fix any car that pulls into your service station. But your marketing message must be focused on your niche.
Create your Message, your Story
How are you going to communicate to your niche audience? What is your story? What is the “why” of your business – what is your purpose? And remember, it isn’t about you, or even your product. Your message is about how you serve THEM. It is about how YOU fulfill a want or solve a problem THEY have. Yes it is an elevator pitch, but your marketing message is so much more than a compact pitch.
Pick your Marketing Tactics
This is the fun part! This is HOW you deliver your message; the TACTICS. What is the medium you use to deliver your message to your niche audience: Direct mail…TV advertising or shopping channel… Social media… Networking… Magazine advertisements… Newsletter… e-Newsletters… airborne Blimp? And be smart about this; match the medium to your niche market’s preference. The goal is to find a medium that reaches the most possible amount of people in your targeted, niche audience, as inexpensively as possible. It will be harder to work that out if you haven’t worked through steps 1 to 4.
Too many small business people start with Step 5, and market by throwing ‘mud against the wall’, hoping something sticks.
Set Sales and Marketing Goals
How many widgets do you have to sell, how many contracts signed, how many purchase orders completed to meet your profit goals? (profit is your goal, correct?) You certainly have to know this. Too many small business people do not.
And what is your close rate? If you need to sell 50 widgets to be profitable and you close 10% of the people you pitch, you need to talk to 500 people to close enough business to be profitable. When we say “talk” to people, we mean that you are engaging with a qualified prospect. The reason most small business owners or sales people aren’t making it, is that they are NOT talking to enough prospects in the first place. Find a way to bring your widget to their attention and take them on a Know-Like-Trust-Buy journey. You still need to be passionate, but it is kind of a numbers game.
Set your Marketing Budget
This process is actually simple. Your marketing spend should do one thing: enable you to get an audience with the right amount of qualified prospects. Using the example above, you should spend enough to get you talking (or it may be touchpoints online) to those 500 prospects. The problem is, most small business people start with this step and say they only have X to spend on marketing. This is the wrong approach and the wrong priority. If your product doesn’t get in front of the right amount of qualified prospects you will quickly be out of business.
Every business must intimately know its niche market and its target customer. It’s easy to keep very busy being busy, but this is reactive living, and reactive living is vulnerable to being wiped out by the competition because your eyes are on the wrong thing.
It is vital to keep your eyes on the forest above the trees, proactively watching the market and your customer’s changing habits. This way you can adjust, plan and redesign your product for the emerging wave before some other sharp operator comes in and appeals to your customer more. Don’t be caught out.
It is the same for professional individuals: keep ahead of the game. Grow yourself beyond the current needs, see what’s emerging and develop yourself in that ahead of the game. While competence in new technologies is important, the highest paying reward you can get will be on your personal development.