Marketing has never been about telling potential customers about your product or service. It's never about finding people to talk to about your company or organization, at least not when it's done right. Yet, so many small businesses spend enormous amounts of time and money trying to just that. Marketing, when it's most effective, is about connecting with your customers' story. It's true, marketing isn't about your company, marketing is about your customers.
If your small business is struggling to create a marketing strategy that works, here are 5 keys that will help you refocus on what marketing is really all about - your customer.
1. Your Marketing Should Know Your Ideal Client
One of the biggest mistake most marketers make, is believing that they can come up with a strategy that "reaches everyone." It's understandable that when you're passionate about your company, and it's products and services, that you want to make it available to everyone. There's nothing wrong with that - except that not everyone is your customer. Your job is to learn who IS your customer. Learn their story - who they are, what they need, what problem they have that you can solve.
2. Your Marketing Should Tell A Story
Marketers are, by nature, wired up as storytellers. The problem is that most marketers are focused on telling the story they want you experience. They are experts on telling stories about their company, the benefits of their products, and the reasons for buying their stuff. That's the way that many marketers believe they prove their worth - by how well they get their message out into the world.
In reality, most people don't care that much about your marketing message. Most people don't care how cool your product is, or how wonderful your company is. Most people, care mostly, about themselves. They care about their problems, their lives, their kids, their car, their dog, their hobbies, their job, and their circumstances. Your job isn't to get them to care about what you offer - your job is to demonstrate that you care about them.
Your marketing should focus on talking to your customers about their story. Talk to your customers about their lives, and their values. Instead of trying to craft stories about your company, that your customers can relate to, craft stories that show how you relate to your customers.
3. Your Marketing Should Add Value
Obviously, people won't buy your product or service, unless they believe it will add value to their lives. That's why so many marketers spend so much time, money, and energy, coming up with ways to demonstrate how much value their product (or service) will add to their customer's lives. What if instead of your marketing trying to prove how much better your customer's lives would be with your product, your customer's lives were better simply because of your marketing.
How much easier would it be for them to believe that your product has value, when you've focused on creating value before they buy anything? Think about the value you add through your marketing. Are you creating content that matters? Are you telling stories that matter? Are you giving your customers, and potential customers, meaningful ways to connect with you - and each other - through your marketing? If I never buy your product or service, will my life be enriched in any way as a result of your company?
4. Your Marketing Should Be Consistent
There's nothing that ruins the marketing story you are trying to tell, more quickly than inconsistency. Many small businesses grow fast, by moving fast. They can adapt and change to the market much quicker than larger competitors, and often experience great success by being flexible. Unfortunately, sometimes things fall through the cracks when you move fast. That doesn't mean you shouldn't move fast, it simply means it's that much more important to pay attention to the details.
It's important to make sure that your brand identity is consistent across all platforms. Your social media pages should match your website, which should match print pieces, which should match your TV ads. Each component should be supporting the larger story, instead of each trying to tell different, often competing, stories. Details matter, because the way you handle the details goes a long way towards building a customer's trust, which goes a long way towards earning a customer's business.
5. You Are Your Best, And Worst, Marketing Asset
It's true. No one is more qualified to connect your company, with your target customer, than you. No one knows your company better, no one knows your customer better (hopefully), and no one knows what you do, better than you. That makes you the most valuable marketing asset your company has. At the same time, it also makes you the biggest marketing liability. So many small business have a great idea, with a solid brand, but fail in connecting with their customer, because the founder, or owner, is unable to look through the eyes of the customer. Having an outside perspective is critical to being sure that each piece of your marketing supports your overall goal.
It's easy, as a small business owner, to get hyper-focused on what you believe people think about your company, and your marketing message, even though we know far too much to be objective about our own company. It's easy to overlook the obvious when you've invested every ounce of passion into your business, and too many companies fail in crafting a message that connects, because they think like a company, instead of a customer. Having an outside advocate for your brand, and your marketing message, ensures that neither get lost - and ensures that you can focus on doing what you do best, which is, after all, why you are such an asset.