I’ve been in sales and marketing a long time so leveraging every marketing tool I can get my hands, tracking, measuring and testing my marketing, and researching the heck out of everything is just what I do. Working with companies like Nestle and Intuit in my former life I learned that great marketing doesn’t happen by accident; it takes diligent studying, planning, and testing.
For manysmall business owners “Marketing” ends up being a congregation of the marketing tools they see everyone else using. Marketing is much more than that – marketing is research and planning and testing and tracking and measuring – and every decision you make should really start with those 5 activities. But sadly, all-too-often they don’t and then business owners get stuck, not really understanding why they aren’t getting the customers they need get where they want to go.
There are three basic tools that I see a lot of misuse for small business owners:
1. Your website should be a lead generation tool. Do you think Bayer Aspirin has a website just because they think they should? No, they know a website is a tool for building trust. Bayer knows that their website is the single best vehicle for getting people who have a headache, fever or muscle pain to get to know, like and trust their brand. You need to think of your website the same way.
Your website is your window to the world. Make sure you are attracting people who want and need what you have to offer, and engage them, draw them in. Add an opt-in form to get their permission to send information of interest to them. Post stories, ideas, and reports they are interested in. Educate them. Provide solutions to their problems. All of this builds your reputation as a giver and a trusted source for industry related information and it gives people a reason to re-visit your site, keeping you top of mind!
2. Buying advertising is a complete waste of money if you don’t do some homework first. Running an ad that attempts to cover everything and speak to everyone is a huge mistake. You will end up appealing to no one. Ask yourself: what are you trying to accomplish? Who specifically are you trying to reach? What action do you want them to take? Why should they take it? You need to ask yourself all of these questions and answer them before you can even consider investing money in advertising. Otherwise you may as well donate the money to charity where it will actually do some good.
3. The internet is your friend, use it! I’m not just talking about your website and social media tools, I’m talking about embracing the internet as the invaluable resource it is. (Although Social Media is definitely one of the most misused marketing tools, see: 4 Ways to Make Your Facebook Page Totally Irrelevant) Before I started my business I researched everything I could possibly think of that related to my business: statistics and reports about small business and marketing, attitudes and behaviors, competition, local attitudes toward marketing and marketing consultants, and more. I continue to use it every day to learn and improve my skills.
You can find just about anything related to your product or service online. Invest the time; find out who buys your product, how they buy it, what their attitudes are toward it, get stats, reports, analysis, research the competition and their customer base, learn about related products and services and industries, learn what your prospects and customers are reading, where they hang out, what they want and need. Become a student of your product or service and your industry. Knowledge is power – use this power make smarter decisions.
Again, Marketing is really much more than a congregation of tools – it’s a strategy for how to use the right tools, with the right message, at the right time to attract your target market. If you’re misusing all the tools you’re missing the mark! Click here to comment.