Six Steps To Small Business Marketing Success - Contributed article by Sharon Williams
Forget expensive consultants and reading endless books on marketing – these six principles will hold you in the best stead to successfully market your business.
- Your database is King and one of your most important assets!
Keep it accurate and up to date by giving responsibility to a database keeper. This could be via hiring an intern or administrator with the aim of keeping that database continually up to date. Your database is the lifeblood of your business so use it to communicate with your customers and prospects regularly. It is astounding how many companies – even the largest ones – don’t invest in keeping their database up to date. You need to know who you want to talk to and then work to have their details on file.Regular maintenance of your database by keeping accurate records of customers, suppliers and prospects is one of the most powerful commodities in your business. There is not much point marketing to an out of date address list! Once you have your database sorted ‘touch’ it regularly with carefully targeted communication. I recommend email newsletters because they have duo purpose. They get directly into your customers and prospects inbox with the latest news AND they tell you if that email address on your database is still current. Sending out regular email newsletters are a great way of maintaining database accuracy.Your database is your very own IP, so it’s important. Keep it up to date and get it in order. If you already have a database, plan to use it more effectively and turn it into a formal process within your business. If you don’t currently have a formal database, now is the time to develop one. Make it a measurable business objective to grow your database eg. your goal could be to grow your database to 2,000 in the next 12 months.
- Ask what people buy from you (Your USP)
Stop selling what you are offering and start selling what customers are buying. In other words, you may sell services or manufacture products but what are your customers buying from you? Safety? Information? Brand awareness? If you are not sure ask them. Find out why people buy from you and why they don’t buy from anyone else? Ask them why they don’t buy from your nearest competitor?Your customers have all the answers and will help you determine the benefits vs features or the sizzle vs sausage! Always keep in mind to make it simple so Grandma would understand.
- Be ‘sales ready’
When you meet someone, it’s always important to have a sales kit you can leave with them that demonstrates your worth. So check over your own sales kit. Does it represent you well? Does it live up to expectations and represent you accurately? Will it attract your target market?A solid sales kit should clearly explain your products, services and key points of difference as well as highlight your credibility. Gathering client success stories are the best way to achieve this. A corporate brochure, fact sheets and selection of testimonials and case studies go a long way to proving your reputation when you are in front of a prospect. Really good sales literature can leave a lasting impression.
- Have a solid media presence
PR builds brands and if no-one has heard of you, selling is harder. Make a list of all the publications you would like to appear in and read them to understand their agenda, topics and who is writing for the magazine. Then you can determine your news and contact the editors with interesting story ideas. Feel free to pitch your customer successes (with their permission) with your product or service and gather new sales signing stories and written case studies.
- Marketing partnerships – partner and collaborate with allies and influencers
Business is hard enough if you are targeting sales one at a time. So look to distribution channels that can help sell on your products and services. This could be through big companies or other SMB’s. There is power in size and numbers. For example, if you are targeting the local community how about leaving your details at the local post office or medical practice.
- Touchpoint programs with networking, expos and events
Get out there and be visible. Make a list or outline of the expos and seminars where you should be seen. And target your industry associations. Can you hold events for your customers?These top six are fool proof and you can easily measure your success in terms of leads generated and feedback. If you focus on these principles of marketing you should see a boost in sales and revenue!Sharon Williams is the founder CEO of Taurus Marketing, an integrated marketing, PR, social media agency. She is a Fellow of the PRIA, international speaker, personal brand expert, entrepreneur, mentor, marketer, media commentator and frequent mainstream editorial contributor.