Running a small to medium-sized business can be daunting and stressful, especially these days, and the thought of doing your own marketing is even more so – mainly because marketing probably isn’t your area of expertise. The key is to focus and don’t overreach. To keep things simple, here’s the Curve Communications simple step-by-step guide to marketing your business, whether it be business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C).
1) What is your unique sales proposition (USP)?
This is often referred to as your elevator pitch. Your business’ unique selling proposition (USP, also known as unique selling point) is what you do that differentiates your business from your competitors, such as the lowest cost, the highest quality or the first-ever product of its kind. A USP could be thought of as “what you have or do, that competitors simply don’t.” Refining your USP for internal and external marketing will help focus your team for best success moving forward. It will also provide clarity for your revenue team — marketing, sales and customer fulfillment. A USP isn’t a brag; it’s a valid point that reveals the most sellable thing about your business. Really think about what your customers want, and focus on how your product(s) or service(s) will uniquely provide the solution.
Here are some good examples of products with a clear USP that has been included right in the company tagline:
- Anacin: “Fast, fast, incredibly fast relief”
- Domino’s Pizza: “You get fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less, or it’s free.”
- FedEx: “When your package absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.”
- M&Ms: “Melts in your mouth, not in your hand.”
- Metropolitan Life: “Get Met. It Pays.”
- Southwest Airlines: “We are the low-fare airline.”
2) Define your perfect customer or buyer persona
Your customer or buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your “ideal” customer. It is essentially someone who gets their exact needs met by what you’re offering. The more detailed or niched down your persona is, the more you will be able to target your marketing to that exact person. This will save you time and money on your marketing and make you more money. It will also be easier to measure success. Here are a few questions you can ask to start defining them:
- How does this ideal client act?
- What do they want?
- What do they like or dislike?
- What are their challenges?
- What motivates them?
Remember: think about what exactly your buyer persona needs from you, not what you need from them. If you can target that customer persona and their motivations, you’ll increase your odds of real conversions or sales in the long run.
3) Getting your message to your customers
Picking which medium to use is a crucial step. If you have your USP and your customer persona defined, you can make the obvious – and sometimes intuitive – step of choosing the right platform to reach them. Is it Facebook, Instagram, Google Search, legacy media like direct mail, out-of-home, radio, print or TV or some other new form of media? The three main factors you should think about are your message, your audience, and your budget. By considering these factors, you can fully optimize your advertising and marketing successfully. No matter what medium you choose, your message, and how you deliver it, needs to both grab your potential customer’s attention, and show them how what you are selling can fulfill their needs and wants.
Once you have a good idea of where your customer is or what media they are consuming, depending on your budgets, you will need to decide whether this will be a paid campaign or some kind of free campaign like social media or public relations. No matter what, they all take time and money; and don’t forget, your TIME is money too, so don’t choose the cheaper option because it might cost you more in the long run. Often we tell our clients that if they don’t have time to do the work to get the free exposure (pitching media and writing content takes time), they should find some money to pay for marketing and put those funds into paid advertising. As the old saying goes, advertising is the publicity you pay for, PR is the publicity you pray for. To put it simply, it means that while advertising is paid media, public relations (PR) is earned media.
4) Content and advertising
Assuming you already have a website that tells your story and sells your brand, make sure it communicates your USP and is written for your perfect customer as noted in points 1 and 2. Coming up with messaging that causes your perfect customer to ACT, is something different altogether. For both your ads and your content, consider this list from Target Public:
- What Makes You Stand Out?
- Use A Powerful Headline
- Make Them An Offer
- Talk About The Benefits
- Tell Your News
- Take Away Their Fear
- Call To Action
- Make It Seem Urgent
- Use Testimonials
- Use Exciting Graphics
- Complete Contact Information
5) Measure and Scale
Marketing your small or medium-sized business does not guarantee a sale or a new customer, but it sure helps. If you follow the above steps, you can grow your business.
Before you start, make sure you have what you need to measure and scale your marketing and for that matter, your business itself. First you need to decide what you want to achieve financially from your marketing, also known as your marketing return on investment (ROI).
Return on investment is a metric that compares how much a team EARNS, to how much it COSTS. It’s calculated using a simple formula: [(money gained – money spent) / money spent] x 100 = ROI.
So if you spend $100 on customer service and, as a result of that service, you earn $150, your return on investment is 50% (150 – 100 = 50; 50 / 100 = 0.5; 0.5 x 100 = 50%). The formula works for product ROI too.
Generally, we recommend that clients spend around 10% of their budget on marketing, which can include a wide array of items including advertisements, staff, events and so on. Based on that math, the above-noted product would require $15 to market as part of your “money spent” portion. In other words, you should be willing to spend $15 for every $150 sale.
Assuming you want to make 1000 sales in a year, then your gross marketing budget should be 15 x 1000 = $15,000. Likely for many small businesses, that is a manageable budget for media like Google, Facebook and others. But you need to be efficient, and you will need to test and measure before you scale.
Testing requires that you know where a lead or sale comes from. With digital marketing, that is pretty straightforward, but with people phoning or walking in the door, you need to find other ways to track sales. And remember, your ads or other marketing initiatives may not hit the perfect ROI at first, but you should always have a goal.
The good news is, once you hit that magical ROI, you will have information to scale and really start growing your business, which is what future marketing of your business is all about.
By George Affleck, Founder and President of Curve Communications. If you want to talk to George about your company’s marketing strategy, click here to access his schedule.