Communicating your business Running your business

Marketing Your Business

Marketing is anything that gets you customers and keeps your customers.

The basic steps are :

  1. Know that your product satisfies a clear need for a well-defined audience.
  2. Grow your business.
  3. Work out how to get your customers to help you grow.
  4. Make sure you keep your customers.

1. Know that your product satisfies a clear need for a well-defined audience

Deceptively simple I know. But one of the biggest pitfalls we make is letting our passion blind us about the realities of our business. We can be so focused on doing what we like to do that we may not be aware of the demand for this product or service. A marketing plan will help us look at the business in a way that allows us to work out if it is going to work.

Personas and Marketing Plan

Knowing if you have a well-defined audience is achieved by creating personas. A persona represents a type of customer. Create a persona by building a biography about this group. What are their goals and aspirations? What are their problems? What is important to them? What media do they rely on for answers? What words and phrases do they use? What sort of images and multimedia appeal to them? Put yourself in their shoes, try to think like them, read the sort of media they read. Do interviews or just talk to your clients to find out how they think. Understanding the personas your business is trying to reach will help you develop your own marketing plan.

Marketing Plan Resources

A comprehensive template with guidelines on how to create a marketing plan.

A great site for Marketing Plan templates for different types of businesses.

2. Grow Your Business

We’ve all been there, you start out reaching clients through your own personal network but how do you get beyond that initial group of supporters? The rules for advertising and PR have changed radically over the last 5 years. No longer is it the exclusive domain of a few people ‘in the know’. The web has democratised the ability to directly reach buyers and clients. You need a professional web presence and a way to get traffic to your website directly.

In his book The New Rules of Marketing and PR, David Meerman Scott, says “the traditional approach to advertising and PR was that specialist advertising or PR people dreamed up ways to interrupt people so that they paid attention to a one-way message. But advertisers can no longer break through with the dumbed-down broadcasts about their wonderful product. The average person now sees hundreds of seller spun commercial messages per day. People just don’t trust them. We turn them off in our minds, if we notice them at all.”

The web is different, web marketing is about delivering useful content at just the precise moment a buyer needs it. The internet has made public relations public again. Blogs(online logs), online videos, news releases and other forms of content allows organisations to communicate directly with buyers. If you are small and have an interesting story to tell, the web allows you to do so.”

Meerman Scott gives us an example of The Concrete Network in the US. It “provides information about residential concrete products and services and helps buyers and sellers connect with each other. The company’s web content, combined with a comprehensive direct-to-consumer news release strategy drives business to The Concrete Network” giving them 10 times more traffic than any other site in the concrete industry.

“The new publishing model on the web is about delivering content, when and where it is needed and in the process branding you and your organisation as a leader.”

Develop Relationships

It takes time but you need to develop relationships. Online this can be through actively participating in Facebook groups or forums. Offline it may be through business networking groups such as your local Chamber of Commerce. Identify where your persona’s are going to be and create a presence there by sponsoring an event or having a booth at a conference or a stand at a market. Advertise in their professional or trade magazines. Advertise in the local paper if it makes sense for them to be looking there.

Pay-per-click Advertising – AdWords or Social Media Advertising

If a potential customer enters a search term in Google such as “Dentist Hornsby” you want your business to appear at the top of the first page.

Organic Result

You can appear at the top of the search results organically which means that you deserve to be there because of a number of factors.

  • You already have a lot of traffic.
  • You have good quality inbound links – which means that you are so well respected that other sites are linking to you.
  • Your site has good quality content and is well optimised which means that there are plenty of signals to Google that the page has the information that the user is searching for. This can be in the form of good headings, sub-headings, link names, content, renders well on a mobile or tablet.

Paid Result

When you are starting out your site will linger many pages down from the first page because of course no one knows that it is there, so what can you do?

You pay Google of course. You bid for keywords and depending on how much you pay your Ad appears at the top and then at the bottom of the search page. This type of listing has the word ‘Ad” next to it.

You can allocate a daily spend budget and Google will position your ad based on a number of factors. If Google considers your site a better fit than a paid competitor it may show in a higher position than someone who has paid more.

3. Work out how to get your customers to help you grow.

The simple answer to this is to do such a great job or have such a great product that your customers will recommend you. Make it part of your standard practise that you ask for a testimonial after completing a job and add it to your website. Use social media to advertise to the world that you have just finished another successful project.

4. Make sure you keep your customers.

Listen to your customers or try and find ways to create a two-way dialog with your customers so that they feel comfortable telling you when something is wrong. They will push you in the right direction if you let them.

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