How to Market Your Small Business
in Small Business Marketing on September 5, 2019
Three Marketing Truths NO Small Business Owner Can Afford to Ignore
Whether you’re a freelancer or at the helm of a fledgling business, these universal marketing tips apply to YOU.
You started your business because you’re really good at what you do, whether that’s cooking, building, event planning, graphic design, photography … or whatever your trade happens to be. And maybe you did it because you didn’t want to work for someone else anymore. You wanted to be your own boss. But now that you’re out on your own, you know that just being really good at your trade isn’t everything. Until you can hire all the people you need to round out your team, you have to figure out accounting, budgeting, planning, scheduling, human resources, sales and customer relations and marketing. Even with the best product or service in the world, if no one else knows about it, it’s not going to gain much traction in the marketplace.
So, marketing your small business is key and marketing is an expense that you should have considered when you were starting your business. However, if you don’t have the marketing budget to bring on the pros, where do you start? You can start by understanding these three marketing truths NO small business owner can afford to ignore.
1. Beware “the curse of knowledge.” As the owner of the business, you suffer from “the curse of knowledge.” This means that you know your product or service like the back of your hand, and, if you do your own website, you are likely to do an “information download” of all your services and options to your website. This can result in a website that’s simply a laundry list of everything you have to offer, instead of a presentation of solutions to your prospective customers’ problems.
Have someone who doesn’t know anything about your business look at your site, put on a “prospective customer” hat and see if your content (particularly your homepage!) tells them what they need to know about your business and how your products or services will make their lives, or their jobs, easier or better. If your current content doesn’t do that, it’s time to take another swing at it. You need to get your message across, and quickly, before your prospective customer “bounces” to another site because they don’t understand what you do.
2. Google comes first. When it comes right down to it, your website needs to appeal to Google first and people second. Why? Because if Google can’t find you, your prospective customers don’t stand a chance of finding you. And if you don’t have a budget to buy PPC (pay-per-click) ads to show up on page one, getting Google to smile upon your website is your best option.
How do you do this? Through search engine optimization, or SEO. You need to figure out what terms (keywords) your customers are using to search for businesses like yours, and put them on your website. For example, if you are a wedding photographer in Indianapolis, but your website says things like “capturing your special moments” or “timeless photos for your special day”, Google may not find your site when someone searches “wedding photographers in Indianapolis.” This doesn’t mean you can’t use those other phrases. It just means you should also include the ones that Google will use to pull you closer to page one.
3. Social media is your ally. Too many small business owners view social media as a “necessary evil” that they must participate in to keep up with their competitors, instead of viewing it as a golden (and FREE) opportunity to speak directly to their target audience.
Think of social media as just another networking platform, as a roomful of people who might have a need for what you do. And remember, you get to create your own room! Choose only the platforms that apply to your business. At a minimum, you should have a business profile on Facebook and LinkedIN, and you should also be on Instagram if your work has a visual aspect you want to showcase. Resist the temptation to start a profile on every platform, as “ghost” profiles with no activity are worse than not being there at all.
Perhaps you spend 15 minutes every morning mindlessly scrolling on your phone (or an hour or two every night in bed, staring at the ceiling and worrying about your business.) Instead, use those minutes (or hours) to create your networking “room”. For example, if you’re interested in real estate agents, search for and follow, or like them. That’s it. They’ll often follow or like you back. And that’s how you build your room.Then, when you have something to say that would be of interest to them, you’ll already have their attention. But make sure you’re talking about your ideas for how to make THEIR lives easier and better… not about how awesome YOU are.
There are a multitude of options for ways to market your small business. It can feel overwhelming to choose what to focus on. But the fact of the matter is, you have to start somewhere. When in doubt, look at what your top competitors are doing and emulate their plans. Decide what you can afford to spend on marketing, do your research, make a plan, and commit to it. But don’t feel like you’re done once you’ve launched your initiatives. See what’s working and what’s not, and adjust your plan accordingly. And take a deep breath. You’ll get there.
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