While large enterprises have marketing departments with hundreds of experienced marketers who invest billions of dollars on campaigns, many entrepreneurs and small businesses struggle to get it right.
Why is this? Maybe it’s because they just don’t know much about marketing or don’t understand it. Or maybe it’s because they don’t want to spend the time or money on it or they don’t see the value in marketing.
In the article Small Business + Small Marketing = Really Big Losses, entrepreneur and marketing guru Danny Iny, co-Founder and CEO of Firepole Marketing, claims that the problem is that marketing “is too simple.”
He goes on to explain that there’s a difference between simple and easy. Marketing at its core is simple – you create a great product or service, identify who would want to buy it and then tell them about it.
Simple enough, but not actually easy.
Some marketing may look easy, he says, like creating a Facebook page or Twitter handle, but any boob can do that. The difficult part, the part that small businesses struggle with, is the strategy that ties all marketing tools together and integrates a plan across multiple platforms.
There is a tendency for small businesses to focus so much on marketing tactics discussed in books, articles and webinars as the keys to success, that they start call the tactics a strategy.
To quote Danny Iny, “You can use every brilliant tactic in the book, and still get nowhere if you aren’t using them correctly. Because those tactics, in isolation, are small marketing.”
What Is Small Marketing?
Here is the thought process for business owners practicing small marketing: “I want to get the word out about my business to attract more customers. Let’s make some really neat brochures and flyers, get a company to make us a website, start sending out emails blasts, get on social media, and buy some pay-per-click ads. Oh yeah, and let’s start doing more of that thing I keep hearing about. What’s it called? Oh yeah, SEO.”
Ok, so maybe I exaggerated that a little, but marketing is much bigger than all this. It’s not an add-on; marketing should be at the center of a company’s overall business strategy.
This is what Danny calls “big marketing.” Big marketing is about identifying that one key group of customers that will value and adore your offering, figuring out their wants, needs and business problems and getting their attention to show them how your company can help. It becomes a “cycle of commitment and reward” that will build customer loyalty. Big marketing means developing a marketing strategy to achieve business goals.
What does an effective marketing strategy look like? Danny Iny points to three key elements: Alignment, Attraction and Engagement.
The first step is aligning the target audience that you are trying to reach and the offer that you are making – simple, but not easy. It begins with identifying “the perfect customer,” the person (or group of people) who has an issue that your product or service can solve. These are the people who are most likely to and happy to purchase your offer.
Once you have pinpointed these high-potential customers, you must create an in-depth customer profile, detailing who they are and their values, wants and needs. After you’ve thoroughly defined your ideal customer group, tailor your messaging and offer to speak directly to them – not a broad, disinterested audience. Stay away from vague product messaging and focus on creating messages directed toward a specific reader (your target audience). Remember, messages that try to speak to everyone end up reaching no one.
Now that you know who you’re dealing with, the next step is determining how best to attract and engage them. Where are you most likely to interact with your target audience – online, on social media, in newspapers or magazines, on the radio or TV or through direct mail?
By placing your tailored offer in the preferred place of communication, you will be able to better attract your key customers. Not only with this step dictate advertising, but it will influence your customer service, presence online and offline and your distribution and payment model.
Here Danny Iny identifies what he sees as “the secret weapon of most successful marketers,” which works for businesses of all sizes – the cycle of commitment and reward. Once you’ve grabbed your target audience’s attention, what do you do next? Do you take the plunge and ask them buy?
Absolutely not, you must earn that right. The correct answer is to ask for a small commitment, like following you on Twitter or subscribing to your emails. Then comes the reward. Provide them with a small token of gratitude for taking that first step to becoming a lifelong customer. For example, this could be a free amazing whitepaper, e-book or webinar. Find something that you could reward your customers with that they would enjoy and feel that the commitment they made was worthwhile.
Next, ask for a bigger commitment, like a free sample or trial, and reward them with the terrific customer experience that they will receive if they purchase. And finally, once you have established trust and earned the right to ask for the big commitment, ask them to buy your product or service. This cycle of commitment and reward should continues throughout your entire relationship with the customer. It doesn’t end after the first purchase.
This is when business strategy and marketing move from two separate entities to one. The goal of the business from here on should be to perfect this cycle and make it more efficient and effective for you and your customers.
So there you have it – small business need to stop doing small marketing and start thinking big – by tying marketing into your overall business strategy. To conclude, I will end with this great quote from Danny Iny “At the end of the day, you have to rely on yourself and your customers to be successful, and the best way to do that is to understand them, understand yourself, and understand the marketing process (big marketing!) as it relates to your business as a whole.”
To read the full article, click here.