Are you a small business owner? Do you have an individual or team to handle your marketing, or is marketing a hat that you have to wear on top of many other responsibilities? Whether you are the jack of all trades or you have people dedicated to marketing efforts, you have to know how to earnestly evaluate your small business marketing efforts.
The facets that should be examined are extensive and certainly go well beyond the scope of one article. That is why I have broken it into a series of articles. This first article will be an introductory look at what marketing is.
What is marketing?
What is small business marketing? Well, to understand this, you have to know what marketing really is. Although everyone seems to know what marketing is, I have met few clients that truly understand it as I speak with them at the onset of our partnership. Whether you’re a business, small or large, a private or nonprofit company, marketing applies to all. I define marketing as the following: a systematic and strategic way to spread knowledge about an organization (including its mission, brand, products/services). This knowledge serves many purposes, but perhaps the most prominent objective is to attract those interested in the solution you provide and enticing them to convert on your offering.
If you sell cars, marketing is educating people on your value proposition and attracting people who will convert on your offering by purchasing a vehicle. If you are a non-profit that helps supply housing to the homeless, marketing for your organization is educating people on your mission and getting your message out to people who will convert on that offer – being homeless people that do not have access to proper housing resources.
Why do you need marketing?
Why do you and your organization need marketing? You may say: ”I’m the only game in town.” Or, “I’m getting plenty of business”. My first response is: you may be the only game in town and/or your sales might be great, but it can always be improved.
Maybe your marketing strategy shouldn’t be to attract more customers, but rather to be more efficient in how you spend your advertising dollars. One facet of that efficiency is by cutting costs, which could include narrowing your focus rather than trying to be in front of everyone. Or, for example, some customers are more valuable than others, right? Some spend more over the lifetime of their interaction with your company, as opposed to others that are less valuable to your organization. Wouldn’t you want to attract more of those clients? And if marketing could help you attract more of these customers for less than the monetary benefit you would get from the new business, wouldn’t it be worth investing in?
Here are some areas in which your marketing can improve: communicating better with the world and educating your potential end-users through informative content; attracting better qualified leads while spending less per lead through better targeting; understanding your customers and your market to a greater extent; retaining customers after the sale so you can continue to drive revenue and referrals; and turning customers into ‘evangelists’ that will promote your products/services to the world. And you know what? Your business could be better in all of these things, whether you think so or not.
I know that all businesses have a finite amount of resources and this makes prioritization of marketing key. Although I believe that any marketing approach should be holistic, I am pragmatic and understand that limited financials should be allocated based upon priority. Rather than just throw money at advertising, consider where the largest need is and greatest returns lie when you go to evaluate your small business marketing efforts. If repeat business is stagnant and your new sales aren’t outpacing it, you need to commit resources to reaching a greater audience. If you’re reaching more people but aren’t driving traffic to your website and/or stores, the answer is not to spend more money to reach even more people; the answer is to commit resources towards finding the channels that get your organization in front of the right audience, with a message that resonates with their values.
In order to gauge which parts of your marketing need prioritization, you need data. This too comes at an expense because you need tools to measure which areas are lagging and then you need people to interpret that data and translate it into actionable efforts. Nevertheless, data collection and subsequent analysis is non-negotiable. You’ll have to determine which tools fit into your budget when you evaluate your small business marketing.
In my proceeding articles, I will give you three major pieces of information: how to consider each marketing channel in your overall portfolio; what tools can help you collect data associated with each channel; and solutions to the problems that will arise from analyzation of the data.
We now have established that you do, in fact, need marketing. In the subsequent installments of this series, I’ll help you to understand what kind of marketing is right for your organization. Taking into account your personnel, size of business, and resources at hand, you will get an idea of what level of marketing you can realistically and sustainably carry out.
At Unique Minds Consulting, LLC, we have extensive experience with defining, evaluating, and optimizing marketing efforts. To schedule a free consultation of your overall marketing or a specific channel, please schedule an appointment here or call us at (207) 303-5634. You can ask questions at our Facebook group – Small Business Advice from Unique Minds Consulting – or visit our website to check out our services and chat with someone regarding any questions that you have.
Written by Austin Bayley, owner of Unique Minds Consulting, LLC. It is a local small business marketing agency located in Scarborough, Maine committed to offering novel solutions through creative strategy that establishes competitive barriers. We do this through extensive analysis, methodical implementation, continual refinement, and effective optimization.