Posts Tagged small business marketing

Your Brilliant Business

Your brilliant business is caused by people doing more of the right things – Thinking – Adding value – Loving what they do – Taking initiative – Exploring options and providing great service to name a few.

Well that’s my view.

Image courtesy of Stock Images http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

Image courtesy of Stock Images http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

We could spend ages debating the issue, what a brilliant business is, how it’s measured and the results it provides. But I want to focus on the ethereal things which caused it to be a brilliant business. The initial points I put up are a big part of that.

Let’s go back to the start, your business started with an idea, you could see what you wanted, probably saw yourself running it, and could proabaly see how things would turn out. In your minds eye you saw a plan of action coming to reality and all the key pointers I started this article with are what bought the dream to reality.

It was you in the beginning who put in the effort, you did the thinking, the planning, took initiative, explored options and provided great service to ensure prospects and customers would come back for more.

The next step in your business was a big one, you took on staff, partners and or associates who could see what you saw, felt what you felt and heard the positive accolades for the products and service you provided for customers. You managed to  encourage your ‘team’, they got motivated, excited and became driven to follow in your footsteps.

The results spoke for themselves, happy customers, great products and services and the bottom line reflects the top level positive work everyone puts in.

There it is, your brilliant business, brilliantly utilising your ‘soft resources’ to ensure the ‘hard resources’, products and services, are in the right place at the right time for your ideal prospects and customers.

Sadly all of this is not a common occurrence, in fact it’s a rare situation, in a world where hope, excitement and the ‘thrill of the chase’ has been eclipsed by businesses which start up and fade, some fast, some slow.

All of the main points mentioned and so much more information is available to those who want to ensure their ‘business idea’ is given the best chance of survival in the ‘formative part of the business process’ and thriving in the maturing part of the process, yet too many fail fast.

All that was required was the right sort of research, a solid plan of action and the ability to cause people to follow your brilliant lead. Alas too many businesses do not have that and what could be a great start soon becomes millstone.

Let’s ask then, what sort of business do you want to have? One with brilliant prospects and outcomes or one doomed to failing fast? Now ask what will you do to make sure it’s not the latter!

Regards

Steve Gray

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You want them to do what?

When it comes to marketing, there are a bunch of questions I believe are important to consider, and I want you to ask these questions about your marketing.

What do you want them to…

  • Think – The message the marketing in front of the person either makes you think or not. The depth and length of that thinking is probably quite important, I figure as long as it leads to the next step then it works…
  • Feel – Does this follow thinking? How do you feel now that I challenged you to contemplate that… 🙂 (deep huh) but the marketing message (image and or text) probably pushed a few internal buttons to get  you to feel a certain way once you thought about the message
  • Do – Action follows feeling as they say… therefore do you want them to sign up – phone – drop in – scan a qr code – read more – follow a link or…
  • Believe – The did what you asked (action) do they now believe even stronger that what they did was the right thing to do, I sure hope so.
  • Value – At some stage (probably after they have received whatever it was they get from taking the initial action) they will make an assessment about what they have received, if it fits to or exceeds their beliefs about it, and feel good about it then they will value it positively, if not bad news for you!

Get the message/s right so people value what you provide. That will then squeeze out the competition and give your business the edge, and what better place to start than with their  initial contact with your marketing message.

Naturally enough it’s one thing to have a starting point, another to be able to make it happen at other customer contact levels within your business.

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Retail therapy…

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles freedigital photos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles freedigital photos.net

As we come into winter in Australia there are going to be plenty of businesses finding their retail stores are not full of people and hope they can make it through the leaner times with the profits they (hopefully) made during the peak summer months.

On many occasions I have spoken to retailers who say “Oh well what can you do, it gets quieter and you hope for the best, you get on the phone and have a chat to friends, get the juniors to clean up a bit and even open a bit later.”

I have seen many retailers in shopping strips sitting waiting and hoping… some survive some fade away.

How do you get around this issue and ensure your business can make it through tough times and perhaps thrive even though the temperature outside is telling you this really is “the winter of our discontent”.

Add to and ‘milk’ your database – If your business is interesting and has had customers come to your store for those one of a kind items you are known for, then you probably have a database of interested persons. If not then start building one! Make contact and start inviting them in for a fantastic shopping experience. Email and snail mail them AT LEAST 4 times a year (although you can readily do more with Email). Add a subscription service to your website, blog and online store then do everything you can to get people signed up and steadily build your numbers.

Shopping experience – You have a shop… what’s the ‘experience’ like… Do people love your service, your personality, the extras you add on, the items you sell? Or do they just come in because they have to and hate every minute of it. My view… Go for a stunning experience. Figure out how to do that with some brainstorming, internet research and KICK BUTT! – BRILLIANT service should be the first step, great displays, fast transactions, wonderful Staff, acknowledge all people who enter the store with a solid heart felt “Hello!”

Use your time – When it’s quiet in the store, develop your marketing plan and act on it. Devise a HEAP of ways to contact your database, build your database and keep them coming back for as little cost as you can. Email and facebook pages are one way, tweaking your informative and engaging website is another, adding to your web blog is yet another. Oh and here’s a critical one… do not vacuum the floor when people are in the store or anywhere near the store and see you  (or any staff) doing it, I hate it with a vengeance and will avoid the store at all costs (the noise is one thing, the tripping hazard of the cord is another and it’s just plain poor form!)

Get Excited! – If you are running a boring ‘old fart store’ with little life, a gruff disposition and a cold shoulder, prospects will find it hard to want to become customers, let alone repeat shoppers (clients). The more you can add excitement to cause people to want to shop in your store, more the more value you can get from them.

Cause people to take action – Ok so it’s quieter at certain times of the day. Can you run an event (an in-store demonstration or special display) or sponsor a catch up for a small group. Or perhaps you offer great package options you can make happen only at special times, to cause people to come in and stay there for a while. Or what about an in store treasure hunt… each day you could give people clues about where to find the treasure, perhaps online.

Give simple and effective reminders – Promo products can do this, drop a printed pen into their bag of purchases, give then an imprinted gift for purchases over $x. Chat to your friendly branding expert to get more ideas and ways to engage them more often. Add business cards in the bags each time (about 3 each time) people soon keep them for friends if the service is sensational and the experience and products are good.

Create an online shop – People like to buy, so sell to them in a way which fits for them, at home, anywhere in the world! Make it an easy to navigate online shop with Pay Pal as the payment device. And put on those things people can’t really get anywhere else. Avoid discounting the prices, buying is buying! then promote it on your FB page, twit about it, email people overseas and interstate (try to keep your locals shopping LIVE… They will find the online shop soon enough! are there other online or local shops you can connect with? Perhaps they can link to your shop too, you could have a whole community of connected businesses all working together feeding each other leads.

Get out there! – Sitting in your shop will cause  you to go nuts. Get you and your staff out in front and hand out goodies to prospective customers, give business cards,  chocolates “With the compliments of shop X”, a flier, an invitation to an event. (You can have them excited before they even enter the store!)

All of these tips are simply about loving people so they can love you back, and if you love your staff they will love you and the customers, Go on explore ways to give UNCONDITIONAL love to everyone you come into contact with. I think in an ideal world you could get so busy you would have to hire someone to keep this list of innovative connection options happening, as you could be too busy manning the till! Now that would be nice…

 

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Making the Marketing Difference

You are up to your elbows in marketing challenges, pressures from all sides are making your job NOT what you want, a lot of hassle. How do you find time to get out of the pressure cooker and search for solutions to give you breathing space?

Image courtesy of Image Majestic http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

Image courtesy of Image Majestic http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

Chances are if you have the time to read this, that’s probably about as good as things will get! So let’s jump in and see if we can provide some fast answers to your marketing department challenges.

Marketing relief options…

  • Get support – There are a whole host of “marketing supply” organisations all wanting to take your cash and supply you with goodies, but use the ones who can take the pressure off. The good ones do this by doing at least SOME of the thinking and organizing for you as well as supplying great products, the great ones will show you how to use the products as well… Try calling your friendly branding expert and see if they can do it for  you.
  • 1 hassle or five+? – If you look after marketing for a single organisation there is probably less hassle, however if you are looking after multiple organisations (in the case of a franchise group), then you might have a whole range of conflicting forces pushing and pulling. Find ways to keep these forces off your back, perhaps by educating the end users on how to fully use the marketing devices provided to full effect.
  • Think, not do… – It’s easy to say it but sometimes hard to do it! Perhaps it’s outsourcing the “practical side of things” and even some of the thinking, so you can plan better what’s coming up next. A friendly Branding Expert should be able to assist you with this and not just be a provider of products.
  • Plan – Yes the thinking part means you can be more strategic in your approach so planning has to be next. Figure out if you have to get more new customers, keep existing ones interested or support an organisation you are sponsoring. Then build your calendar of marketing options from there.
  • Keep your people informed – if you are a one person marketing dept or a 100 strong team, your wider network of staff in the organisation will probably need to know about how to handle the promotions and various processes you will put in place so use your intranet, email and or training sessions, to give them information and get feedback on what’s taking place, often great ideas can come from some very unlikely sources.

Now you are back on track, see what’s out there to make your job easier and less hassle.

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Creative marketing for 2011, will your business win this year?

Its a tough time to be in business, GFC might be over to a degree, but buyers are holding back on spending, the following ideas are sure to get your friendly branding expert chatting and I am sure you will find ways to connect better with existing customers and excite new ones in the process.

Content creation on your website etc is one thing, but getting your target to see it is another. here are a few ways to explore a few pieces of the puzzle and develop a few answers. If nothing else this should be a spring board for your people to come up with some new options, share those in the comments!

  • Build digital communities people want to go to and stay at…. Give them reasons to stay, a gift, a prize and offer, an alliance, a chance to get tokens to build towards a bigger gift. along the way, they get your message.
  • Word Of Mouth as a way to get people to check out your social media information, blogs etc… so make a  you tube video of some people telling each other about your service. Imagine an office where two people are filmed by an apparently “sneaky camera” they talk about some of the benefits of using your biz, they say the biz name poorly at first (so you can’t quite hear it) then it gets clearer over time. have an anonymous you tube acct so it’s not your biz acct, then as they walk off the camera sneaks up and your biz card features on a desk..
  • Hand out your branded gear in an area where you are more likely to get to the sorts of companies which might use your services. Chat to your friendly branding expert for ideas and options.
  • Link a series of approaches together, your linked in group, with your face book page, with your blog, with your website, with your email’s and links on faxes out and adverts with QR codes to a starting point on your website.
  • Have fun doing suitable “stunts” and get media attention which features your website, a “mob event” for example try a creative dance group for some ideas.
  • Provide a suitable enticement via a promotion to get people to head over to your blog and sign up… If they are your target market then great! if not just give them the thing and move on… its a number game.
  • Create a PDF of value to your target market, they can only get after signing up to your blog. advertise it on  your facebook page and linked in group, while twittering about it a few times.
  • Create self qualifying adverts, “When you want what we have go here…” then lead them to your website and give them a reward for doing so.
  • Fortune cookies with a pr code in it to link to a specific page on your website.
  • Create a you tube video with your website featured in it, make it interesting, like have a home movie, or show  a calm and beautiful scene of rolling waves make it short and to the point, heck make a bunch of them, then send links to them via your email list, of course the videos have your website details across the bottom.
  • Load your autoresponder email outs with great tips, hints, ideas and links to your various resources. keep adding to it with brilliant information so they want to stay subscribed.
  • Develop strategic digital partnerships with others who can link to your target market, this way you can get more leverage and be seen as a go to person for resources and ideas.
  • Repetition, repetition,REPETITION!, some things just don’t change! Your adverts need to be seen by people multiple times to be effective… So will it be a branded product, a link to your site, PR codes (more linking…) emails to your targets or all of them! yep do the lot, one of them will be the one which connects!

More ideas you want to share? Use the comments section in the  header for this post to let us know..

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Marketing that connects

Marketing can seem like a hit and miss affair and if not correctly planned and implemented it can miss more often than hit!

The aim is not just to get your name in front of people but to make it connect. When you get to connect with someone the longer you can do it the better, and the more effective the connection, even better still!

Here’s how it could work. If you put an advert in a newspaper and all it sasys is your business name and contact details, you might get a few calls, however if it has some degree of emotion connected to it, you have a better chance of connecting with the reader.

An example… a motor mechanic, if they play on the pain of a car breaking down and the hassle that can cause, chances are the people who know the pain would relate to the advert. Instantly you have a point of difference from the advert with just the details. And you are more likely to get people to take some notice.

It’s even better if the person wants the service you are delivering at the time when they need it most, so if you have played to the idea of connecting and your opposition hasn’t you will probably win more often.

So think deeper and figure out ways to connect so you can set yourself apart from a competitor.

Here’s another step… Let’s say you did a basic connect with the first step and you added a call to action in the advert “Mention this advert and receive a free gift when you come in” then you have a chance to connect again, let’s say the gift is a stress ball with your contact details on it and a tagline which says “We take the hassle out of your vehicle repairs.” Then there is a connection to the first message and you get to be the one to be remembered longer.

Freebies are just one way of connecting with your target customers over a longer period, but avoid just giving them out, make the people work for it, like bring in the advert and get a quote and we gift you.

Put your thinking cap on and see what you can come up with using the connecting rule as a starting point, if you need to, chat to a friendly branding expert to get more information, you will then have a head start.

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Solid Marketing Strategies

You market your business to a world full of competitors, prospects and suspects and in the end all you want is results. A result which says your efforts were worth it, sales are up and the marketing you have done becomes a great investment, not just another business expense. Therefore it makes sense to get the marketing right, the place to start is with a solid marketing strategy and a chat to your friendly branding expert.

Solid marketing strategies vary, depending on the aim/s.

The best marketing strategies are those which are the cost effective at achieving the objectives they are designed to do. For example, if your goal is to increase awareness of a new product, various promotions, adverts, demonstrations, and a variety of other tactics might be appropriate.

If however your goal is to increase sales, incentives, product association (lifestyle with product for example) and product generalization techniques (where there are similar product ranges you can associate with), as well as product differentiation tactics (Making your product stand out from the rest) may be effective.

If you are aiming to increase awareness or sales, or develop a brand image, product differentiation (ours is better because…), emphasis on core competencies (features and benefits), low cost leadership (leading the pack in a low cost way), product development, and all other strategies that contribute to the uniqueness of a brand may be used as the base of a solid campaign.

What’s important here is agreeing on what the aim/s should be, especially if one aim works against another

Make it measurable and adjust to suit.

Often specific strategies which aim towards target markets may be the most effective as they get to a specific group or individual. General marketing strategies on the other hand can be useful if many of the end users are not easily able to fit into a descriptor of potential users (e.g. some soft drink brands.)

A big part of whatever strategy you use however should be that they should be measurable. This is to establish what works and what doesnt. This will save the organisation money on research, trials, and failed campaigns as well as time, man power in some cases, and will assist in minimising risk. To make sure it is measurable you need to figure out a definition of what success is in this context, e.g. if the aim is to increase sales of an item, by how many is probably the best gauge here.

if you need to cover the cost of the advertising, then the profit margin on those sales needs to at least cover the cost of the advertising, however it would be preferable to exceed that level, by how much will be the stronger definition. Once you have defined the success indicator then the measurement tool needs to happen, it could be as simple as a voucher which has to be handed in to redeem a free gift, or get a two for one deal etc You keep the voucher and count them up at the end of the campaign. then adjust if necessary for next time.

Make it relevant.

An outstanding goal in marketing is to contribute to a loyal customer base and build the importance or memorability of the brand. To do so is said to be found in making the advert or promotion relevant to the target market.

This means that the target market believes the product or service being marketed is something that they actually need or want, and once they get, it, they feel somehow satisfied.

Reinforce the message.

As advertising happens over time, you should be reinforcing the message you present, in general terms and even with more specific objectives, either way the longterm goal forms the basis of all the marketing done for the organisation.

It is essential that marketing strategies be part of a continuous process, which does not just reinforce messages, but also, builds upon the previous messages

Regardless of their market share, organisations must ensure their message and credibility is in the minds of consumers, otherwise your competition may just lead them to look at what they have.

Media has changed, change with it.

Tv is not the advertising god it used to be as people fast forward or readily flip through channels on the TV. however a mix of advertising types might need to be trialled to figure out which ones do the right thing for your business.

If an organisation does not use its research and measurement , its marketing efforts will be at the mercy of the gods and the true results unknown.

To cut through the clutter and noise of marketing and promotions, your strategy needs to be tested and true to your goals and desires, it may take in social media options, traditional media and various creative ways to get and keep the prospect interested in what you have on offer.

Stand out…
The big thing to make your marketing work, is to stand out from the crowd.

  • Have a point of difference. (Quality – Service and Value are a given, so think of something else like a guarantee or how you solve a problem better than your opposition.)
  • Create powerful, better headlines.
  • Keep asking what do they want.
  • Be better at service so they want to come back.
  • Create engaging and compelling copy in the adverts.
  • Have outstanding calls to action
  • Be creative in your approach, innovation is in.
  • Talk benefits, features are one thing, benefits last longer…
  • Connect with the people you are targeting.
  • Chat to your friendly branding expert if you need assistance to do more.

Now you have the start to a solid strategy, you need to figure out a plan of action to make it work. Grab a note pad or a whiteboard, jot down ideas and then grab a calendar and set some dates to make the strategy come alive!

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