20 Marketing Truths for Small Businesses
Marketing is the key to achieving customer interest, winning customer purchases, earning customer satisfaction and loyalty, and keeping your small business in business. Following is the least you need to know as you plan your small business marketing program:
On marketing: Marketing isn’t about talking to your customers; it’s about talking with them. Marketing relies on two-way communication between your business and your buyers.
On customers: As a business owner, you don’t work for yourself; you work for your customers.
On products: Customers expect your business to offer products that are competitive on price, quality, and speed, and they expect you to be exemplary in at least one of those three areas.
On competition: One of the biggest obstacles to the purchase — and therefore your biggest phantom competition — is your customer’s inclination to do nothing at all.
On commitment: Dedicate time or money, or both, if you want to market your business from where it is to where you want it to be.
On your business image: Most of the time, your business makes its first impression when you’re nowhere to be found. In your stead is your website, Facebook page, voice mail message, ad or direct mailer, business sign, or some customer’s online review or rating. Be sure those impressions align so people form the opinion you want them to have.
On brands: A brand isn’t a logo; a logo is a symbol that identifies a brand. A brand is a set of beliefs in the customer’s mind; a promise customers believe. Consistency builds brands, and brands build business.
On features versus benefits: When you describe a feature of your product or service, you’re talking to yourself. When you describe a benefit your product or service delivers, you’re talking to your prospect. Consumers don’t buy features — they buy benefits and solutions.
On hiring professionals: Getting help is a sign of success. It means you’ve decided to invest in your business image and message.
On getting online: If you’re in business — any business — your customers or those who influence your customers are online. If your business isn’t online, it’s past time to establish a web presence.
On social media: Enter social media networks to build relationships and interact with consumers, not to place promotional messages that intrude, annoy, and harm more than they help your business and brand.
On blogs and digital content: A blog is the hub of an online information-distribution strategy that draws customers into interactive relationships.
On print ads: Four out of five people read only the headline of print ads.
On broadcast ads: In all media and especially on radio and TV, it takes reach to achieve awareness; it takes frequency to change minds.
On direct mail: TV ads win awards and build awareness. Social media wins buzz and launches relationships. Direct mail that takes a compelling offer straight to genuine prospects wins customers and return-on-investment contests.
On brochures: The only good brochure is one that moves those in your target audience one step closer to a buying decision.
On public relations: Do the right thing and then use publicity and other nonpaid communication opportunities to talk about it.
On networking: In person, you have about 20 seconds to introduce yourself and make others want to know more. Online you have about 20 words.
On customers and loyalty: The number of people you reach doesn’t matter. What’s important is how many qualified prospects you reach and how you move those people through the steps necessary to win their business, repeat purchases, and loyalty.
On marketing plans: Marketers with marketing plans market best.