There are a lot of small businesses out there that should avoid getting sucked into the latest and greatest in digital marketing fads, and instead stick to some of the old classic rules of growing a business.
It seems everyone has digital marketing or online marketing advice to give, and you as a business owner are most likely bombarded with well-intentioned advice from colleagues, family, friends and even marketers like us.
You probably often hear your business should be doing this or doing that, or you should sign up for this service, or you should be using that app, or why aren’t you on this social media platform – SEO, blogs, ads, listings, etc, etc, etc.
There is no shortage of where your business can be or what your business can achieve in regards to increasing sales and growing a customer base, yet the options available to achieve this can be mind boggling.
Now, take a deep breath.
Allow us to ease the burden on what we know are your limited resources of time and money, by providing the following advice.
Much of this you probably already know. You just need to be reminded of it.
Average Lifetime Customer Value.
How much is a customer worth to you? “A lot” is not a quantifiable answer. I’m talking about a dollar value. Figure this metric out because it will help with just about every marketing decision you make.
For example, if an average customer has a lifetime value of $1,000 to your business, then any investment under that amount is worth considering. If you spend $500 to acquire a customer then you win.
Knowing this value also gives you a benchmark for increasing that value when you start thinking about how can you sell more to each customer.
Get really good at using one or two marketing/sales channels before moving on. Getting really good at it means being able to measure the results.
No. You don’t need to be on the latest social media platform.
No. You don’t need to be using the latest app.
No. You don’t need to be doing this and doing that.
You are a small business with limited resources, and the most valuable of those are time and you, the owner. We know that small business operators always wear a number of hats – it goes with the territory, so think about just how many more hats you can wear before it starts having a detrimental effect on your business.
Do your best to systemise your marketing efforts and the channels you work with. The benefit of this approach is that it frees up as much of your valuable time as possible, and once working effectively can be delegated to an employee.
Old-School Still Rocks!
Here is where modern day online and digital marketing purists are going to freak – Your best marketing approach just might be to engage in old-school sales and marketing such as business networking, attending social events and shaking hands. Finding earned media opportunities is a still a great one, and never underestimate the benefits of personally connecting with your customers and prospects. It could even be as simple as investing in some new signage or promotional materials.
Basic Sales & Marketing 101.
You just completed a sale or project with a customer. As the owner of the business, should send them a personal email thanking them. While you’re at it, ask them how their experience was, or if there are other products or services they would have liked available to them.
This conversation can easily lead into an add-on sale. Just make sure that you keep it personal and don’t launch into a sales pitch. After all, it’s about establishing a relationship with your customer, it’s a great point of difference, and can also lead to some really good word of mouth referrals.
Network with other businesses, but make sure you do it right. What is “right”? Approach each relationship with another business with the attitude of helping them, not you. Try to get past thinking of them as competitors that can steal your customers. Instead, find out how you can refer business and customers to them, or find them a resource, or help them out in some other way.
You will soon be seen as a valuable resource within your industry, and the theory of reciprocity will naturally start to kick in and provide you with valuable business leads
So, what if you literally have no time to figure any of this out?
If you are stuck, and it’s ok if you are – It happens to many business owners – then you need to ask for help.
Avoid well-intentioned friends and family members, who have tendency to muddy the waters even further.
Avoid marketers who offer to do anything for you and your business without first learning about you, your business and your customers. Your business is unique, and you know this better than anyone else.
If the marketer you are dealing with doesn’t ask you the following questions, then you should give them a miss
- How long has the business been operating?
- Have there been any significant changes in the history of the business?
- The owner and owner’s available time – do you have any time available for DIY marketing?
- What are the owner’s and staff’s strengths and weaknesses regarding the business?
- What is the product or service being sold.
- How does the owner want the business to be operationally?
- What marketing and sales activities are being conducted now and in the past? What worked and what didn’t work.
- Who are your competitors? Where are they located?
- Who are your customers? What are they like? (Demographics, interests, locations, etc.)
- What is the average lifetime value of a customer?
- What is your budget?
Yes, you should share your budget information because how else can a plan be crafted? Even a range will be helpful. If a marketer agrees to put a proposal together without knowing a budget, they’re simply wasting everyone’s time. Having a $10,000 budget means you can explore a much different sales & marketing landscape than if you had a $1000 budget. Be up front. If you have a $10,000 budget but want to start low, then say so.
Some closing tips.
Go to a marketer before you go to a web developer. A website is a marketing asset. Treat it as such and speak to a marketer about it. Please, do not create a website or embark on a social media strategy without consulting a marketer, who at the very least can provide a framework to work within.
Go to a marketer before designing and printing sales & marketing material. The reason being the same as the above. Also consider that a good marketing plan is cohesive and supports all sales and marketing activities.
A simple tip, but one that can get you into trouble if you overlook it. Make sure that you are set up as the administrator for any website or social media account, as well as having one trusted admin backup.
Nothing can be more stressful than being shut-out of your business page and trying to prove you should have access, or an employee setting up the page and then leaving your business, taking the access with them.
You do not have to be on every social media platform out there. Seriously, you do not. Find the ones that work for your business and stick with them.
Do not buy a media advert just because a sales person contacted you with a “deal of a lifetime”. If you have money for an ad, contact a media-buying specialist who can get you more and more appropriate ad placements.
SEO is not the be-all end-all for your business’s growth, unless it’s an online business. If you’re obsessing about SEO, please stop. Too many businesses are skipping fundamentals and going right to SEO.
The bottom line.
Business is not B2C or B2B, it is H2H (human to human). Marketing is a strategy to help your business grow and it helps prime the sales function. Social media, websites, apps, listings, , ads, etc are tools in your business’s marketing toolbox. Pick your tools wisely and use each for its respective application.
The bad news is that small business owners are overwhelmed by choices for traditional marketing and digital marketing. The good news is that small business owners have a plethora of choices for marketing and all that is required is choosing the right tool at the right time for the right application.
So, take a deep breath, stick to fundamentals and proceed mindfully.