So your small business marketing needs to work even harder
There are more than 30 million small businesses in the USA which might give the impression that it’s an easy thing to do. It’s not.
It’s heavy lifting for uncertain success, at least in the early days. Believe me, I know! The one thing that all small business owners have in common though, is that they believe in themselves and in their product or service. Yet, despite this belief and the desire to work as hard as is humanly possible, from an operations consulting perspective, almost every small business that I’ve worked with underestimates the importance of business development and marketing.
What is business development?
Business Development means different things to different people, depending on whether they work for a startup, a global enterprise or a mom-and-pop shop. Essentially, ‘biz dev’ as it’s often called, is the creation of long-term value and opportunities for your company from your customers, suppliers, and partners in your markets and geographies.
So, how do you create long-term value? A good business development strategy will include analysis of your current business state and an understanding of where you want to go. You need to understand the target market, decide what you want to achieve and then establish a plan for making it happen. You’ll need to factor in the risks, look at the human resources required and the dollar cost.
The process isn’t simple, by any means. But at Take the Stairs, we’re always amazed by businesses that seem desperate for new prospects but are not immediately willing to put their money and efforts in to gain new customers or better service existing ones.
It’s not enough to simply exist
Unless you’re paying to have your business physically located in a premium piece of real estate, it’s going to be rare that people stumble across your business without any type of promotion or communication. Small business marketing and development are critical to your business outcomes.
It’s time to wake up and smell the coffee.
As a business owner, if you’re not thinking about how to find and attract new business, you’re not going to grow your business. If your business is a side-hustle and you are content to grow organically (or not at all), then you’ve got no worries. But if you’re the type of business – and we need to assume that most businesses fall into this category – where growth equals the difference between bankruptcy and entrepreneurial success, then your small business marketing needs to work harder than you do. It needs to cut through the noise of your competition and talk to your target audience in a language they understand.
What you can do to get more business right now
So, what to do? Fortunately, there are lots of business marketing tactics that you can implement today, for little or no cost. And remember, any legwork done at the early stages is likely to pay off in dividends through the life of your business.
Define your target markets
- What businesses or customers are likely to find value in your product or service? Does your product or service appeal to a certain segment, demographic, age group or physical location?
- Understand the demographic profile of your target. Who are you trying to talk to? Where do they live, what do they do for a living, how old are they? The more you understand about your target customers, the better position you will be in to meet their needs.
Form partnerships with related businesses
- Partnerships are big business. Think Kanye and Adidas (Yeezys). Think UNICEF and Target (KidPower). Think Nike and Apple (Nike+). Such global partnerships achieve more together than they can do alone by effectively doubling their audience and appealing to a wide demographic. While your small business probably doesn’t need A-list hook-ups, there will be some obvious partnerships in your geography to be exploited.
- Even if you don’t actually form a partnership with another company, how about seeking reciprocal relationships with other small businesses? It might be that you can’t service all the needs of your clients, and refer them to a local firm that is a specialist in that particular area of need. In turn, that company refers its customers to you for your area(s) of expertise. A great example of this is where a photographer reaches out to local wedding planners to work together. Neither steps on the other’s toes as their areas of speciality are not competitive, yet both businesses will likely gain warm leads for each other’s core services.
Develop promotions that resonate with your target audience
- Promotions are about the customer, not about you. Create something that is attractive to your target audience, holds value for them and if possible, that none of your competitors offer. Make the offer enticing and watch your customers flock in.