Small Business Marketing—3 Keys to Success
As a business owner you’re likely to focus heavily on production, sales, customer service and making sure your colleagues and partners are productive and happy. But even turning out the world’s greatest product in the world’s most ideal workplace isn’t necessarily enough to keep your business healthy and growing. You’ve also got to market, and market effectively. In this post I’ll talk about three marketing principles and actions that are essential to any business, and that includes yours!
1. Better Visibility Means More Customers
Having a great product that’s in demand is vital. But just as important, you have to be visible to your potential customers. Achieving that visibility is one of the primary functions of marketing.
Increased visibility strengthens your brand (in fact, without visibility, you don’t have a brand, as far as the market is concerned).
And as your brand gains strength, more and more potential customers (a) recognize you, and (b) think of you as the natural choice, when it comes time to buy. So time, effort and funds invested in building positive visibility are all well spent.
By the way, there’s much more to marketing than advertising. The way your product is conceived, developed, packaged, placed for sale, and delivered are all part of the marketing process, too. So is customer service – very, very much so.
With efficient, engaged, friendly customer service, you create customer loyalty and generate word-of-mouth – the best form of advertising there is.
At Billy’s Billing, one of the ways we decided to increase our visibility was to adopt a non-traditional company name (for an accounting company, at least), and a mascot to go with it: Billy. This has definitely caught the attention of potential customers, and aroused curiosity.
Other visibility builders that have worked for us include:
- Using the principles of SEO to become increasingly visible on Google, appearing higher and higher in the search results for relevant search terms
- Using Google AdWords campaigns to determine what product benefits and features generated the most interest
- Testing different marketing channels (AdWords campaigns, newsletters, content marketing, telemarketing and others) to see which were most effective in our target markets
2. Creativity pays
Good marketing demands creativity. Creativity can be the most economical element of your marketing efforts, yet it can lead to the greatest rewards, if you’re smart about how you apply it. You can’t avoid spending money – the old maxim that it takes money to earn money is quite true – but if there’s some good creativity backing up the way you spend that money, every dollar spent can go a lot further.
Back in 2011, when we first launched Billy’s Billing in Denmark, our marketing budget was very tight. One of our most successful marketing strategies back then was to find creative ways to position ourselves as the most user-friendly accounting software on the market.
We knew this message had great appeal for our main target market, small business owners. Simplicity and user-friendliness were their big buttons. So those are the qualities we focused on, letting them know our app was designed for them, not for accountants and bookkeepers.
We put a lot of work into finding creative ways to communicate the message, on as many channels as possible – but not just any channels – we targeted channels that were most likely to hit small business owners, including the social media platforms they favored.
We did a lot of group brainstorming, coming up with outside-the-box ways to look at and reach our target market differently from the way our competitors did.
3. Measure, measure, measure
Successful marketing gets even more successful when you measure your results and learn from what those measurements tell you. By analyzing your results you can discover what worked, what didn’t work, what needs to be tested further and so on.
By constant testing, measurement and analysis, you can focus in on the most effective actions. It can also spark new ideas for creative ways to exploit new channels and new actions to try. And of course when you try them, you measure, measure and measure some more.
It’s an ongoing process, it’s exciting and challenging, and it can lead you to places you never would have imagined. Profitable places.
Here are just a few things you should absolutely be measuring, continually:
- Number of new customers every month
- Sales generated through every one of your sales channels
- Results of A-B testing on your web site and in marketing campaigns (and yes, you should continually be doing A-B testing)
I realize you may not have someone doing marketing full-time – you may be wearing the marketing hat yourself, while doing everything else in the shop, too (or nearly so). It’s still well worth your while to do as many and as much of the things I’ve described as possible. And as soon as you possibly can, get someone to take on the marketing hat, or at least help you out by wearing big chunks of it. It will pay off.
Good luck, and good business!
This article was written by Toke Kruse and published on Billy’s Blog
Toke Kruse is the CEO and founder of Billy’s Billing, provider of accounting software in plain English – designed expressly for small businesses. He writes books and blogs about startups, entrepreneurship, business, accounting, and presentations.