A lot depends on who is your customer. If millennials are your primary audience, spending most of your resources on print advertisements is not a great idea. To identify the best strategies for marketing your small business, you first need to understand your customers.
Know your customer
The question sounds simple. It is not. Most businesses have a very broad definition of “who is my customer?”.
A YouTube channel producing English rhyme videos for kids may define “women in the age group 25 to 35 living in tier one and two cities” as their customer.
The definition is not wrong. It is broad and vague.
If you were to check pay per click ad estimates for the audience mentioned above, the answer would be in millions. When working on the best strategies for marketing your small business, you should not chase millions of prospective customers.
Remember that resources are limited – time, money and talent.
Be precise. New age channels and strategies for marketing allow you to be precise.
The answer – create customer personas.
How does this work?
Customer personas let you create “avatars” for your prospective customers. This is like defining your best friend. Or defining a colleague. Habits of the person, likes and dislikes.
This allows marketing teams to visualize the target audience. The strategy puts a face to the unknown. When working on the marketing strategies or advertising copy, the team can now think of how to attract, engage and persuade a “real person” instead of a “vague target audience group”.
Next step: Identify the best channels for your marketing strategy
Now that you know your customer, you can answer the following:
- What are the best channels to reach out to them?
- How can you help them? What are their pain points or what are their goals?
- Why is your solution (product or service) the best solution for them?
What are the best channels to reach your target customers?
The customer persona would help you answer this question. Where can you find your customer? Social media, newspapers, cafes in the neighborhood, search engines, exhibitions.
You would also need to analyze past data. Check the conversions for your previous marketing campaigns.
What channels give you the best results? Check cost per lead and conversion rate for each medium. You may also need to look at the customer life time value or repeat business rate for each lead source.
When identifying the best strategies for marketing your small business, you need channels that give you the best return on investment.
- Should you spend more on search engine pay per click campaigns?
- If organic leads work best for your category, how can you up your SEO game for better rankings and more traffic?
- How can you use email marketing to increase repeat purchase?
- What exhibitions and industry events should you attend?
The customer persona and data analysis would help you shortlist the few marketing channels that work best for your business.
At this stage, you should have answered the following?
- What are best channels for marketing your small business?
- How much should you spend on each of these?
- What is the estimated cost per lead and conversion rate for each channel?
“Your brand needs to be present where your target audience is consuming content. This will help you understand where your audience is most inclined to buy something.” – Alexander Nygart,” CEO of White Shark MediaTweet
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How can you help your customers?
The previous step helped you what are the channels and best strategies for marketing your small business. As you have the numbers worked out, now is the time for the qualitative research.
What are the problems or pain points of your customer? Or may be you are not eliminating a problem, instead you are helping your customer realize one of her goals.
It helps to have a clear understanding of how your product or service can help your customers?
Most products and services have multiple features and benefits. What should you promote? You can’t promote all the features of a product.
People have short attention spans. You will have a few seconds at best to capture the attention of your customers. You would want to use those “golden seconds” to communicate what matters to the customers.
For example, while crafting the marketing message for a day care center, what should you promote? Safety measures, hours of service, trained staff, hygienic food or creative learning opportunities.
There is always so much we can say. At the same time, there is seldom so much time to say it all. Choose carefully.
What makes your product or service the best solution?
What differentiates you from the rest? Why should a customer buy your product or service to solve her problem?
This again is a tricky question to answer. It is important you don’t just scratch the surface.
It is way too common to come across statements such as “lowest cost”, “best in class”, “fastest turnaround time” etc.
First, the answer to this question should be aligned with what you uncovered in the previous step. If cost is not a concern for your customer, your claims of being the cheapest is not going to cut the deal.
The answer to this lies in the details.
Talk to some of your existing and previous customers. Ask them, what do they value the most about your business? Why do the buy from you?
The answers may surprise you. The voice of the customer is the best source. If that is not possible, brainstorm with your sales team. What do customers ask during sales meetings?
Sum up the USP in one or two lines at most. This should be the direct answer to:
- What customer problem you solve?
- Why your solution is the best?
Please note that “best” is not the same as “lowest cost” or “most premium”. Do not equate being the cheapest as being the best. At the same time, do not use being the “best” as an excuse for unwarranted price hike.
Conclusion: Best Strategies for Marketing your Small Business
“Best” is a relative word here. The best strategy will be different for different businesses, industries, geographies and customer groups. There is no one size fits all solution.
These steps help you narrow down your choices and craft an engaging marketing pitch to woo your target customer group.
This has to be a regular exercise for continuous improvement and success. The frequency of the exercise could be once every year or for fast changing business environments, this could be once a quarter.