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Small Business Marketing Strategy

Ask yourself the question....What is the difference between the confident entrepreneur who lead growing businesses, and owners who can’t get out of survival mode? The answer is simple: All successful businesses have a clear marketing strategy that makes everything they do more effective.

Unfortunately, many small business owners get so caught up in the daily marketing execution such as the building of their website, mass email campaigns, social media, expensive advertising, optimising a landing page, blogging, the list is endless.   Instead they should be taking the time and effort to concentrate on the decisions that will ultimately improve the performance of their strategy.

Strategy is the decision you need to make so that your marketing tactics work better.  Your marketing strategy should be  the foundation for creating awareness, generating interest, closing new sales and continuing customer engagement.

Your marketing strategy guides your company culture, your products & services mix and your pricing.

There are many things to consider when creating a successful strategy, but we want you to concentrate on just five key decisions that we have seen over a number of years help hundreds of small business owners grow their sales and increase profits within their businesses.

The 5 Keys of Marketing Strategy

1. Who is your narrowly defined target customer?

2. In which category does your business exist?

3. What is your unique benefit?

4. Who is your real competition?

5. How are you clearly different from your competitors?

To increase the effectiveness of your strategy, to grow your business and increase profits, you have to decide on the single, simple answer to each of these questions and commit to not changing it for a period of 12 months or more We can give you this answer....It is focus. Focus is almost always the difference between a business that grows profitably and one that never seems to gain any momentum. You can continue to hope that “next time that email is going to be more  effective and achieve more sales,” or you can develop a clear focus and a realistic strategy.

Who is Your Target Customer?

The first decision in any marketing strategy is to define your target customer. “Who do you serve?” 

This question always needs to be answered clearly before you can execute any strategy effectively. This means you have to say “no” to other potential customers who might want to buy from you, but who are clearly not your target market. Initially this is difficult as sales are sales...right?  No, this discipline takes time and effort to develop, but you can’t do effective marketing without it.

If you are spending time and money on marketing but your efforts are not driving enough sales, the primary problem is almost always that you haven’t narrowed your target market definition enough to be effective.

The narrower you can define your market and therefore focus on those that you can best serve, and those that can best service you, the more effective your entire business will be.

What is Your Category?

Write a short description of what business you are in.  Then write a few more words as you believe other people would describe your business.

An example to get you thinking......  Starbucks is “high-quality coffee” 

Unfortunately most business owners can’t resist over-complicating their company descriptions. The problem with this is that it leaves people unsure of what you actually do.  Ultimately this weakens your marketing effectiveness. 

Here is a simple rule: If someone can't clearly remember your category description one month after you had your first meeting with them, you can be assured that they were never clear about what you do in the first place.

Clearly defining your category helps amplify your marketing and sales efforts. Think of what it would take to be the best, the market leader in your industry. Ask yourself am I the leader? If you aren't then start by narrowing your category definition (or your target market focus) until you are the leader.

A focused laser can melt steel at a distance, but the same light undirected has no effect. Be laser-like in your focus.

What is Your Unique Benefit?

Your unique benefit should highlight the one (or two) main things your product or service actually delivers.  What is your Unique Selling Point (USP) that your target customer really wants.  You should take time to write these points and focus on them before talking about your business with anyone.  This is not a long list of all the features that your product or service offers.

Here at Start My Own-Business Ltd, we know our customers don’t just want to buy a Limited Company. They want expert advice as to which business structure is best for them and their new business.

We don't talk about what suited our previous client, or try and sell them software claiming to have hundreds of benefits, we keep our focus on our own USP. And the simpler we describe it, the better our marketing works.

Who is Your Competition?

When someone is looking to buy a solution to a problem, they will quickly make sense of the alternatives to compare against.  This is your competition.  The majority of entrepreneurs haven't specifically defined who their real competition is, and there they don't focus their messages to create clear differentiation for their consumers. This negative can confuse the decision making process and makes your marketing efforts weaker.

You need to be clear in your own mind about what your biggest competition is. As accountants and business advisors serving clients across the Midlands, we continually ask ourselves, is our competition other accountants across the Midlands?

Do It Yourself Tax Software? Competitors offering very low cost rates?  Each of these competitor types create different comparisons, so we need to narrow it down to one or two main types.  You must do the same for your business.

Why Are You Different and Better for Your Target Customer?

Once you have defined your competition, make a list of all the things you do differently and better. Then rank each of them in order of importance.  Use these key differentiators whenever addressing your target customer. The top one or two should appear on your homepage of your website, and you should include them whenever you are talking about your business.

However, do not overcomplicate this. People just want to know one or two things to best influence their decision. Is it cheaper?  Do you have faster delivery?  We specialise in start up businesses and advising them as to which business structure will best suit them and their business for growth.

What Does Your Marketing Strategy Statement Look Like?

So now you have worked on your five key decisions of marketing strategy, you should try to put it in a sentence form,  as an example, it looks like this fill-in-the-blank statement below:

Your company name is the leading category for target customers that provides unique benefit. Unlike competitors, yourcompany does unique differentiator.

Our growth rate doubled when we focused and committed to this clear and simple marketing strategy.

Always get some perspective from employees, friends and best customers. List all the possibilities and then make some decisions.

Say it out loud many times. You should feel clarity and power coming through. On the reverse it will also show you a few things you could stop doing in your business that would ultimately create more focus.

Now going back to the start of this tutorial, can you see why it does not make sense to send a random tweet, or to send a large email campaign or even build a new website, if you do not have a clear marketing strategy?

Remember, your marketing strategy requires laser-like focus!

Marketing your business without a clear strategy is like driving a long journey without a road map. Ultimately your marketing strategy will not deliver the right customers and will give you fewer sales than if you had invested the time to implement a focused marketing strategy.

Remember: Creating a clear marketing strategy is not what successful companies do after they get big, it is what small companies do to grow and get bigger in the first place.