Flyers, billboards, radio commercials, posting on social media, doing promotions, writing blogs, and even your pricing -- all of this is marketing. It makes it very difficult for a small business owner to know what is most important to focus their time on in order to get more customers. This article will further explain what marketing is, how it's different from sales, and what the absolute essentials are very every business to have in their marketing portfolio.
There are two main sections of your business that drive revenue and there is a distinct difference between them: marketing and sales. Most people have a general understanding of the difference between the two sectors, but it's important to understand exactly where the line is between the two (especially in your business).
First, let's dive into the sales process. Sales, in short, is the process of taking a lead and converting them into a paying customer. That's selling. That's the sales process. The question is... where did that lead come from? Marketing. Marketing is the process of generating those leads that we need in order to initiate the sales process. Maybe the lead was just a referral from an existing client or family member, but it is still important to identify that as a marketing effort. Now we know it might be beneficial implement a referral program. Do you see how understanding the bold line between marketing and sales can tell you where and how to focus your efforts?
Now that you understand the goal of marketing is not to make a sale, but instead to generate a lead (someone we can contact that could be a new customer), we can move forward with learning the 5 essentials for every business (big or small) trying to excel at marketing.
In order to be as efficient as possible with your time and resources (which is the difference between good marketing and bad marketing), you have to monitor everything that you do and you have to know exactly what it is that you are trying to do. One of the first and biggest mistakes you can make as a marketer is to begin your efforts without a crystal clear understanding of both the brand you are marketing for and the specific goals you are trying to achieve. To move forward, make sure that you have a brand identity style guide to make marketing efforts as uniform as possible and get a marketing journal to track the specific things you are doing to increase leads. Start small, and try to get a good ROI for everything you do. Create an elevator pitch: What can you tell people about your business, products, and services in 30 seconds or less that keeps them interested and wanting more? Whatever you say, make sure to make a good first impression.
In today's technology-driven world, the first thing a potential lead will do is Google your business. You need a website to establish initial credibility and provide more information about your business and what you do. People want to know about you! Make it easy for them to find out who you are! Considering this will likely be the first touch-point for every lead you generate, it is absolutely vital that your website communicates your overall brand. In order to keep your website up-to-date with your latest products/services, news, and promotions while staying uniform with your brand identity, you should consider either building an in-house design team that fully understands your business or hire a subscription based branding agency to help you manage your website and branding efforts (not to toot our own horn here, but I believe we are the only subscription based branding agency out there and we do a phenomenal job).
The next thing you should be doing is becoming a media company. By that, I mean become the place where everybody goes to find out more information about anything in your industry. Maybe you own a bar located in a college town: you should be posting things on social media that college students or even prospecting college students care about! It could be a protest that is going on, a sports game, or even the best places to party on campus. You have to start thinking about your customer more than your product and how you can benefit them in every way. I think the easiest way to do this is to create two "fake" customer profiles. Create one profile with your dream customer and one profile that closely resembles your current average customer. Describe things like their name, where they live, how much money they have, and what they do for fun. Then post content that you think both profiles would enjoy to see every day. It's harder than it sounds, but it is an excellent practice.
It's easy to get ahead of yourself with massive marketing dreams, but the first thing you should be doing is creating a local presence. Join the chamber of commerce or any other business network. Hang up flyers around your town letting people know you are in business and want them to come to you. Heck, even doing things like handing out free t-shirts and yelling from the street corner will create local awareness. At this stage you should be doing everything you can be doing to get people around your city to talk about you. When people start talking about you, the more visits you will have on your website, the more followers you will have on social media, and the easier it will be to begin down the sales process.
Lastly, don't give up. You should be monitoring everything you are doing so find out what isn't working and do something else, but never stop marketing. Even if you are booked for the next 6 months, keep people talking about you and then find a way to accept more customers. There should never be any reason that you aren't creating new leads because leads are your company's oxygen. Whatever you are doing well, keep doing it and reflect on why it is working so well.
More than anything, focus on consistent, repetitive branding. Your potential leads should never be confused about who you are, what you look like, what you stand for, or what you do. Every single thing you do should be consistent with your brand because without it you are just like everybody else. Be you, be different, but be consistent.
Founder/CEO at Pence Branding, LLC
Ohio University Alumni
Bachelors of Business Administration