Marketing Strategy for Small Business

small business entrepreneur

Marketing Strategy for EntrepreneursMarketing strategy is how your small business gets paid…

How can you produce increasing revenues quarter-after-quarter?

What needs to happen to accomplish your business goals? The end goal, is to improve revenue, leading to an increase in net profits. How do you get there? How do organize your current pool of resources to improve net profits?

Some marketing strategies are intended to get results quicker, but have a cost to implement them. Content marketing strategies can have deeper long term effects and cost less,  but take longer to achieve critical mass.

Which strategy suits you better?

It depends.I know that sounds like a lame answer but we all have different resources. Let’s start out with some definitions so we have a baseline.

What is marketing strategy for a small business?

How about we pick apart the two words so we can point you in the best direction quickly. I want to start with strategy. This is simply how you deliberately choose to allocate your resources to achieve a goal.

Marketing is how you educate leads and prospects to become informed customers. And how you help customers become repeat customers. This second part of the definition of marketing, by the way, is one of the least utilized aspects of marketing and that is mind boggling to me. It costs five times more to get a new customer than it does to sell to an existing customer. More small business owners need to capitalize on a relationship with a person who already trusts you enough to have spent money with your business.

I like to break up phrases in this manner because it helps get clarity back into the meaning of the words. After some separation, we can define marketing strategy as organizing your business resources with the intent to communicate with leads, prospects and customers. Exactly what to communicate is an area where many get lost.

How to Structure Your Marketing Strategy

Should you be informative or persuasive?

Most people WANT to be informative because they hate to sell. I have two statements for that:

  • You are in business to make money- you opened a business to sell something. Money will not magically come to you without asking for it.
  • You don’t need to be a sleazy used-car salesman to successfully make offers. Structured content marketing will help you in this area.

The best context for your marketing strategy is to start with a belief everyone is not ready to buy today, even if they are interested and a qualified lead. Studies have show that only 3% of those in your marketing funnel, are ready to make a purchase. As my friend Rick says, “I need to talk to everybody so I can get the guy on the phone who is ready. I don’t take the rejection personally.” This is a good lesson for all of us.

Getting back to the question of informative or persuasive the answer is both. You want to inform, but you also want action. The best action is a purchase. Other action includes asking for an email, a phone call or showing interest or better, specific interest. (I want a car, I want a blue Chevy).

To achieve our end goal, we want to always be educating with the intent to convert deeper into our funnel through a call to action.

A quick note about persuasion techniques. There is nothing ethically wrong with helping someone feel good about purchasing from you. There is nothing wrong with “pointing out” how sexy a woman looks in a dress you are selling. Nothing wrong with telling a middle aged man buying a sports car could make him feel like he is 25 again.

People buy because they want to accomplish something. Ultimately we make the purchase emotionally and justify logically. I may join a gym and get bigger arms or a flat stomach, but what I really want is self-confidence. Do your best to uncover these deeper benefits and get them into your marketing funnel.

Your marketing strategy should be structured to help people make an informed decision to take the next step. A well structured marketing strategy helps educate prospects along the buyers journey. Nobody likes to be sold, but you happily buy, when you feel you made a good decision.  This is effective marketing at it’s finest.

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Close your eyes and imagine you have 30 seconds to get someones attention, to get your message across and ask for a call to action. Now imagine you are standing back to back with your prospect. You are not able to speak directly to them. Pretty tough assignment.

The truth is you have access to millions of dollars of marketing research every time you get in your car. Simply turn on the radio. Listen for two things.

  1. Is the reward for listening obvious?
  2. Is the call to action clear?

You don’t need to take notes but you will gain a new appreciation for how to make the messages in your marketing clear.

Types of Marketing Strategies

There are essential two core marketing strategies that you need to make a decision about.

One of them costs money and works quickly if done well. The other costs time. Time to organize and time for it to be effective, but the roots are much deeper because the results last longer.

Outbound Marketing Strategies

Outbound or “push” marketing strategies are the kind we all grew up with. Paid advertising. Some call it interruption marketing because you are going out and attempting to get attention, so you can deliver your message.

You are paying to attract attention, how cost effective you are is based on some other skills you have or pay for- such as direct response (see below). If you organize a solid campaign to attract prospects with a system in place to improve on the “lead attraction” offer, you can build a nice marketing plan for your business.

What I have just described is a process of getting a new customer and having in place a plan to move them deeper into your buyers funnel. Paid marketing gets a bad reputation amongst small business owners because they only know the first part of the plan.

Usually a sales person will sell you an ad with a pitch of traffic or subscribers. There is nothing wrong with this but you need to realize you are attracting attention, not making a final sale.

I will give you a real-life example from early in my career.

When my family owned a pizzeria we advertised a coupon. I literally hated all those customers who only came in when they had the coupon. Notice I said ALL THOSE CUSTOMERS. There were a lot of people who used them.

This is where so many of us as small business owners drop the ball. I didn’t know I was supposed to be building a list of customers I could later sell big ticket catering! I wasn’t building a list.

Here is the crazy part and how a little knowledge can get the juices flowing. Today we have what is known as pay-per-click. This is how Google makes its money. We pay to drive traffic to a page to build a list. This costs money so we can sell them something later to justify the cost. With coupons I was getting paid to build the list!

How can you use this two step approach in your business? What can be your low ticket “coupon?”

To excel in outbound marketing you need 3 things:

  1. A logical one-two punch of: a low ticket lead attraction item (usually free online)  with a planned up sell into additional purchases or simply one larger purchase.
  2. A clear and obvious benefit your customer will receive (marketing message).
  3. A working knowledge of direct response marketing so you can create headlines and offers that will attract your ideal customer and persuade them to take action. (so you can pay for the ad and pour the money right back into more marketing)

Inbound Marketing Strategies

This marketing strategy is also known as “pull” marketing. You are producing great content to be found in search engines and shared in social media.

When done well, you become an authority or thought leader in your field. At a minimum you want to produce content that demonstrates your expertise in the core topics that encompass your core offer.

If you are a CPA for example, you would write articles about the various tax laws and tips to lower your tax bill. But you would do it in a way that was interesting that attracts your ideal client.

“2 ways to claim your Ferrari as a deduction if You’re a Landscaper…” “How to” content is always a winner and forces you to be clear about the benefit you are offering.

“How to buy the right amount of food for 20 Thanksgiving Guests.”

The reason Inbound Marketing is considered to have deeper roots is the better the content, the more likely it is to get shared and found. It’s not like paying for an ad once and then needing to feed the machine again to run the same campaign. The niche know as content marketing is a huge new specialty in the business world.

How to Apply the Different Marketing Strategies

The obvious question is “Which is the right choice for your business?

The correct answer is which do you have more of, time or money? The ironic part is most small business owners have time to create content but need results quicker. Which is against the benefits of each strategy as described above.

If your marketing budget is tight, there are plenty of ways to get qualified prospects using an outbound strategy (content). Create a Youtube video on your phone. Do a podcast. Contact other entrepreneurs who may have your ideal client but are not direct competitors and ask if you can deliver a speech.

Write articles and contact popular websites requesting to be a guest contributor in exchange for a link back to your website.

IF you have the money to spend on paying for qualified leads through direct response marketing I would recommend you use both strategies.

You get market feedback immediately on your promotions and if you are smart, you quickly adapt the feedback into your outbound campaigns as well.

One strategy feeds the other ammunition to improve.

If you need some help getting your marketing strategy going, please reach out to me here to arrange a call.