When you run your own small business, there is a good chance that you wear a variety of hats and may have trouble keeping up with every function of your business. Because finances are key and ensuring your operations are smooth is necessary, marketing is often one job that gets a little nudge and sometimes put off until someone has bandwidth to take it on.
And when marketing strategies sit on the backburner for too long, it takes more time than most owners would like to get that fire lit and for things to really heat up.
So here’s the marketing secret that no one told you – market your business before you think you need to market it.
What does that mean?
- Market before you think you’re ready. While you need to have your brand and your unique selling proposition pretty solid before you jump into promoting your business, you need to get the word out before everything is perfectly in place. For instance, when I opened my fitness studio, we launched our social media accounts before we even laid the floor. We posted photos of the process and then followed key social media accounts (local fitness and wellness leaders and media outlets). This was our “non-pitching” way to ping people we knew would be interested and wanted to get the story out before others caught on. While not every single thing was laid out, we marketed what we knew and we stuck to specific selling points that were at the core of our mission.
- Market before you think you have to market. Word of mouth has a drop off. Through my consulting, I worked with plenty of small businesses who turned to marketing once they realized that word-of-mouth got them to a certain point, but the excitement and chatter died down to the point that the organic growth was slowing or came to a screeching halt. At that point, it takes some time to get a strategic and effective marketing campaign off the ground, so it makes much more sense to have this in the works and then launch once the organic growth shows signs of slowing down.
- Market outside of the time when people buy. Too many times I work with businesses who can identify their busy time and want to really focus on offers and deals when they are already busy. While there is some validity and strategic ways to approach this mindset, it really is a process of capturing low-hanging fruit. Instead of running deals during times that your customers are already planning to make purchases, run deals and campaigns during the off times to boost sales. Never offer a deal to someone who is already going to purchase. Instead offer an incentive to purchase when they may be on the fence or at a time when they just “can’t pass up a good deal.”
And because you read this far, here is a bonus marketing tip:
- Keeping customers is easier than getting new ones. When you evaluate the lifetime value of a customer and the cost of a new acquisition, you may find that the numbers tell a story that shows repeat purchases are worth a higher value than a one-time customer. This requires some data and patience, but it’s important to understand how your money is being spent and who can provide the most value.
While many companies launch huge campaigns focused on acquisition, they may actually find out that retention is the better answer. If too much of the marketing focus is on getting new people, existing customers will see right through it and feel slighted. For example, cable companies are always offering promotions for “new customers only.” Think about how that makes new customers feel. Rather than thanking existing customers for their loyalty and making them feel appreciated, they feel alienated because they were excluded from what might be a great offer.
If you do want to create an offer for new customers only, do it strategically so existing customers don’t feel they lost out. Also, be sure you only target the most relevant audiences and try to leave your existing customers out of the messages for the new customer marketing campaign.
Marketing is an art and a science. Use your data to drive your decision-making, and use your emotions and creativity to find new ways and approaches to drive interest when you need it the most.