First, a small business marketing story. My Father-in-Law and I were discussing all things business recently; he ran a restaurant franchise for 15 years and marketing was one of those areas that he was better at than he gave himself credit for.
His issue, as a small business owner, was that he was being sold “marketing” tactics, but there was never a strategy attached. And the reason there was never a strategy attached was because the right questions were never asked. Dare I say that the first point below is that one question that would have made him happy.
1. Have Objectives
Back to the Father-in-Law: if anyone selling a coupon book, radio spots, a magazine or whatever were to come in and ask, “Jim, what are your objectives?” they would have had a real good chance of getting an audience.
So, yeah, sounds obvious. Have objectives for your marketing. Sure.
But in this case, clearly defined objectives can actually diffuse any shysters.
Shyster: “You should try the acme widgetizer for your restaurant marketing.”
Jim: “My objective is to sell $5000 worth of food during lunchtime today. Does this help achieve that objective?” Absent the objective, Mr. Widgetizer can sometimes goad you into something you don’t need.
2. Price Appropriately
Pricing can be tough – but it doesn’t really have to be. It’s easier if you run a restaurant; tougher if you’re in a service-oriented business. What’s an hour of your time worth?
But here’s where any small business can learn something from the Government – purchasing managers usually follow a rule when considering a number of proposals: throw out the least expensive and the most expensive. Find out what others are charging for what you’re doing, and be sure to price yourself so that you’re in the mix. (Don’t race to the bottom.)
3. Get a Google Account
This might sound like something out of “Journey Into the Obvious,” but having a Google Account gets you access to more than just invites to Google + or whatever GOOG launches next. Having the Google account is a necessary step for things like Gmail, Google Analytics, and YouTube. Wait, did we say YouTube?
4. Get a YouTube Channel
Also takes a moment or two – but without a YouTube Channel, well, where will you put those videos you’re producing?
5. Create a Video Response
To ANYTHING related to your business. Let’s say you’re a recording artist, and you think you can sing. Record your latest song and post it as a response to a video of someone famous, or even semi-famous.
6. Take inventory of touch points
Doesn’t matter the industry you’re in – you are touching prospects and clients in a variety of ways. Each one makes an impression. If you run a restaurant and the hostess or cashier is grumpy…well, you get the idea.
Touch points go beyond people elements, of course. Signage, business cards, stationery, web presence, Twitter and Facebook. Find out where you are touching the prospect and customer – and see where you can improve.
7. Don’t forget the phone
Get a Google Voice line if you can. Set up a message that’s professional. Set expectations on the phone, too. “I will get back to you within 24 hours.” Mean it as well.
8. Only implement little things if you’ll use them
Business cards fit into this category: if you go to a lot of networking events, great. Make them impactful and conversation starters. But if you think you’ll end up with 500 of them sitting in your office, you’re better off focusing the $50 on something valuable to your business.
9. Measure whatever you can
This is great to test “hunches” – “I have a feeling we’re going to get a lot of customers visiting the store today because…” Well, because why? If it’s going to rain and that impacts store traffic, might as well start counting how many people come in.
10. Check-in by phone
There has to be someone – prospect, client, past client, someone in the industry – who you can touch base with. “Hey, we worked on that project last year, and I’d love to find out what is going on in your world.” And so on…
11. Active Twitter Listening
Gary Vaynerchuk loves this one: go to http://search.twitter.com and find out who is saying what about your industry. Start weighing in. Do so in a non-salesy way. Repeat.
12. Remember: it’s not about you
As a small business person, you are incredibly focused on your own stuff, and that’s fine, to a point. BUT, “Empathy Marketing” is really a good idea. Your story about why you built your business or what you’ve done or how many widgets you sold? Interesting to some, but probably not to everyone.
Your story about how whatever you are doing can help me? That’s much more compelling. WIIFM – “What’s in it for me?” – remember that and you’ll go far with your marketing. And, just maybe, with that business of yours too.