Business marketing covers a wide spectrum of approaches. There are simple approaches, complex ones, traditional ones, and those that scare upper management! Each of these have their time and place but several have been battle-tested and are known-performers.
Setting your business up for success starts at the ground floor. This article is about helping you learn how to envision your business’ path forward and anticipate its needs. Don’t worry, we’re not claiming to teach anyone to predict the future. More along the lines of putting gas in the tank if you don’t want to get stranded on the side of the road.
Step One: Know Your Market
The single commonest point-of-failure for new businesses is not knowing their target market. Having a great product or service still isn’t enough in most cases. People need to know how that great product or service relates to their lives. Identifying a target audience can be as complex a task as one wishes it to be. You could employ a market research firm over a course of years to collect proprietary market data—or just brainstorm on a napkin. The points of focus are remarkably similar either way:
- Look at Existing Customers
- Look at Past Customers
- Look at Competitors
- Create Lists of Target Demographics (women, husbands, newly-weds, etc.)
- Create Lists of Target Psychologies (fed up with work, rushed for time, etc.)
- Identify Pain Points of These Audiences
- Re-evaluate Constantly
By considering these approaches of identifying a target demographic, if only for a single afternoon, you’ll be setting your business up for success rather than ‘winging’ it.
Step Two: Communicate Effectively
Effective marketing is effective communication. What they don’t tell you is that successful businesses don’t need to create sensational advertising to be successful. For example, let’s say you’re on a desert highway and need to fill up your cars gas tank to ensure you don’t run out before reaching your destination. What more does a gas station need than to have an open sign to get your attention?
This simplistic example starts falling apart when you introduce competition but illustrates our point: don’t over-think things. Sometimes the simplest approach is the most effective approach. People want to find the answers to their questions as quickly as wholly as possible. Many businesses that create resources around answering common questions in their market find out something remarkable. Not only do their customers become higher converters but their competitors customers start jumping ship.
The formula is simple. Provide a better overall experience than your competitor. Pricing is only one variable and support, ease-of-use, and experience all play a role as well. One of the single most effective ways to get started is to start a blog for your business and discuss topics of interest to your customers. Detailed guides on how to use your products will be of great interest. Sometimes giving a potential customer an idea of what to expect is enough to win over your competitors.
Starting a blog is easier than it’s ever been before. If you have a website, the best option is to have your blog located there. This increases your chances of having a non-customer find your blog and become a paying customer. After all, they’re already on your site! Depending on how your website is built, you may need to hire a developer to get you started. These are the basic steps to start a blog from scratch:
- Register a Domain Name (if hosting your own site)
- Choose a Website Framework (Wordpres, Magento, Shopify, etc.)
- Choose a Webhosting Company
- Do Market & Keyword Research
- Create Quality Content (not posts about sales)
- Market Your Website (PPC, SEO, Forums, etc.)
To be fair: each of those steps can get pretty involved—especially 4-6. The best piece of advice we can offer is just get started. You’ll quickly find that audiences respond to content you’d never imagine them to sometimes. The quicker you get started, the more quickly you’ll be able to adapt to your target market’s preferences!
Step Three: Be Open & Honest About Your Business’ Policies
Nothing cultivates negative reviews and BBB reports faster than shady marketing. Business models that rely on customers not reading the fine print are doomed from the start. The only types of companies that can get away with this type of shady operating practice are those where no other alternatives exist. Cell phone companies, for example. What are you going to do, not have a phone?
This isn’t a piece of advice from a Boy Scouts manual either; you can apply this from the ground up. If your business has extra charges tell people about it. If your delivery times are longer to help reduce cost tell people about it. If your product’s lifespan is only 6 months tell people about it. The best approach to ensure an open and honest approach to your business is to assume your customers know nothing about your product.
This mindset of total responsibility in describing your product or service helps reduce the number of cracks in your support and marketing pipeline that could let major issues slip through. Regulatory labels are a prime example of such opportunity. Take dietary supplements for example. Herbal products that contain naturally occurring trace levels of arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury are required by California law to be labeled as such. Not explaining this label to customers just makes it seem like the products contain lead.
This extends to other areas such as managing negative reviews, which any business is bound to get. What consumers often fail to recognize that, in many cases, the only people motivated to leave a review are those that are angry. Viewing negative reviews as opportunities to publicly showcase your customer service is good practice. Don’t cater to unreasonable requests but go out of your way to make things right. Businesses don’t often give customers enough credit for their ability to recognize someone being unreasonable in a review. If you show up with a level-headed approach you’ll walk away as the good guy.
Putting it All Together
The issues discussed here are common to all businesses. Thriving in an online market simply means applying these concepts to your business’ digital footprint. As a way to help illustrate how successful businesses tie this together, we’ll leave you with a video from Brian Dean on how to drive traffic to your business website: