One thing all successful businesses have in common is a clear marketing strategy, which makes everything they do more effective. Unfortunately, many small business owners find themselves so busy dealing with the daily marketing tactics like building a website, sending emails, tweeting or posting, advertising, optimizing web pages, creating blog content (the list goes on), that they’re not putting time aside to work towards improving the performance of the above tactics.
Creating a marketing strategy is about setting a foundation to create awareness, generate interest, lock in new customers, and continuously increase and improve your engagement with consumers. A marketing strategy guides your organization’s culture, your services and your pricing.
There are many things to consider when creating a successful strategy, but we believe these are the 4 key factors that can help your small business grow and increase success in your designated industry.
- Define your target customer
One of the very first things you need to do in any marketing strategy is define your target customer. Who you are serving must always be front-of mind before you can effectively execute any marketing tactic. Focusing your energies on such a defined target may seem limiting at first, but stay on the course and follow through. You will thank yourself later.
If your business is putting time and money into marketing efforts but you find it’s still not driving enough sales, it is very likely due to the fact that you haven’t narrowed your target market enough to be effective. The more defined your customer is, the better you can serve them and the more effective your entire business will be.
- Know your business category
A business category is simply a short description of what “business” (think industry) you are in. Is your target customer able to describe your business with only a few words? This is so important, and is directly related to your customer’s needs. It all comes down to why and for what reason are they coming to you. An example of this is Starbucks, known as high-quality coffee.
So many business owners end up over-complicating their business category description and this leaves customers or potential customers unsure of what service they actually provide, which significantly weakens an overall marketing strategy. A simple industry rule: if someone can’t clearly remember your category a month after meeting you, they were never clear about what service you provided in the first place.
- Provide a unique benefit
Simply put, a unique benefit is the one (or two) main things your product or service actually delivers, the things (benefits) that your target customer really wants. A unique benefit is not is a long list of all the things your product or service features.
Think of this, customers of a software company don’t just want software, they want to grow sales and save time by purchasing said software. It’s important for a company to not describe everything the product does or the long list of benefits, but to keep the focus on key benefits. The simpler you describe it, the better your marketing will be executed.
- Be different from your competition
When a potential customer is looking to buy a product or service they will compare available options against you. These alternatives are your competition. Most small business owners don’t specifically define their real competition and don’t focus their marketing message to show how they are different from their competition. This frustrates customers and makes the buying process harder.
As a business owner you must be clear about who your biggest competition is. Each competitor type will create different comparisons for your buyers, so you need to narrow your list down to two or three main competitor types. Then make a second list of all the things your company does differently and better, follow this by ranking each item by how important they are to your well defined target customer.
Whatever you do, don’t over complicate this process. It will make your marketing efforts weaker. All potential customers really want to know are a couple key things to move their buying process along. In order to know exactly what those key things are, you need to know your target audience.