We're often asked by company owners and managers what they can do to overcome their small business marketing challenges and market their services more effectively to potential customers. In these conversations, it's always interesting to hear about the particular hurdles they face and discuss the options available.
At a recent event, one small business manager boiled these concerns down to a single question: What's the one thing I should be doing when it comes to marketing my business?
There's a simple answer, and it's one we often suggest as a starting point for small companies trying to improve their marketing efforts: focus completely on your customer.
While this might sound obvious, you can see examples every day of small businesses that seem to have forgotten about their customers in their marketing materials.
And it's an easy trap for companies to fall into. For example, if your firm is smaller than some of your competitors, it can be natural to want to show that you're just as capable as they are.
So, to illustrate this, you fill your website and brochures with information about your company's proud history, your innovative approach to your business and your industry-leading position. But the link to how this can help your customers is missing.
The problem isn't only limited to small companies. Even the biggest businesses can end up producing internally-focused materials that trumpet their own achievements and, in doing so, forget to show why these are important for potential customers.
Sadly, for these businesses, a prospective customer isn't usually ready to hear about these milestones.
Instead, that customer first wants to know how your company can help him. He wants to know what you will do to solve the problems he's facing in his own business, or how your services will improve his life. Because of this, he doesn't really mind whether your company has been ranked first or fortieth in your industry.
As companies continue to fight for the attention of prospective customers, the need to focus on those customers has become even greater. And a good place to start is in your marketing materials. So, what does this mean in practice?
- Put your customers first. Always. Think about how you can help them from the beginning. Work to understand their needs, and make it clear how your business can help meet those needs in everything you write about your business.
- Demonstrate your value. Your prospects can now find a great deal of information about you and your competitors online. As more and more companies start to embrace the benefits of content marketing, it will become even more important to demonstrate the value you provide to customers. So, remember to highlight why customers should work with you by showing how they will benefit.
- Look for examples that show how you helped. You probably have a number of customers who are happy (or even delighted!) with your services. So start thinking about who your biggest cheerleaders might be, and how you could capture and share their enthusiasm with new prospects. Testimonials on your website, customer case studies and the use of blog posts and news articles are all great ways to showcase to website visitors the results you achieved. Just don't forget to ask the customer's permission first!
Whatever your business, by keeping the focus entirely on your customers, you'll increase the effectiveness of your marketing strategy by adopting a customer perspective at all times. You'll understand what customers are looking for and make sure you demonstrate how you can help. And, in the process, you'll be able to differentiate yourself from a lot of other businesses out there.