Do you find yourself struggling to stand out from your competitors? Are you attracting the wrong type of clients? Do you ever struggle to decide what marketing tactics make sense right now?
If you answered yes to any of those questions, you’re not alone. You’re in good company with millions of other small business owners. At its core, effective marketing is really a system. And when that system is in place and running well, things just seem to work – which is great when you’re a small business owner because then you can focus on running the business.
One of the best resources I’ve come across on small business marketing is 7 Steps to Small Business Marketing Success, by John Jantsch. (Full disclosure, I’m a Certified Duct Tape Marketing Consultant and partner of John’s).
Not surprisingly, the book outlines the 7 key steps to set up a marketing system for a small business. Here’s a quick summary or you can download the ebook for the detailed plan.
Step 1: Strategy Before Tactics
Marketing lives and dies by developing“Strategy Before Tactics”. If you don’t start with strategy, you’ll end up throwing money at SEO one month, social media the next, with no real plan or idea of whether it will move you closer to your goals.
Finding your ideal customer & Your Core Difference
Most businesses are built to serve a very specific type of customer and trying to serve too broad a customer base may actually detract from your business and lead to a bad customer experience. Finding your ideal customer will help you to focus on how to attract more of them.
The best way to find that ideal customer is look at your current customers. Better yet, spend a bit of time and interview a handful of them. Ask them why they hired you? What you do better than your competitors? If they refer you, why?
Answers to questions like these will also help you find out what your core difference is. That’s the thing that makes you stand out from all the other options your prospects and customers have. If you don’t have a compelling core difference, prospects will default to the one question they know they can compare based on: how much?
As a business owner, you know that competing on price alone is never a winning game.
Step 2: The Marketing Hourglass™
Once you know who your ideal customer is and what makes you stand out to them, The next step in installing an effective marketing system is to know your customer’s Marketing Hourglass, also called a customer journey.
The Duct Tape Marketing system is based on moving prospects through the Marketing Hourglass from their initial awareness of you right through to the point where they become a repeat customer and refer you new business.
Every customer you have went through a process. They first came to know you, then they learned a little more and decided they liked you, and eventually you convinced them to trust you. The Duct Tape Marketing definition of a successful marketing system is one that gets someone who meets your ideal customer profile to know, like, and trust you and then get that prospect to try, buy, repeat, and refer.
The right system has tools in place at each stage to manage a constant flow through the hourglass.
Step 3: Content as the Voice of Strategy
Once you’ve identified your ideal customer persona and created your core difference message you’re ready to create the content that will deliver it through all the touchpoints you identified on your Marketing Hourglass.
Content can include website copy, blogs, social media, reviews, and testimonials, white papers, seminars, and more. It should always be focused on two things: building trust and educating. It should never be random. All of your content needs to be driven by your strategy.
Step 4: Create a Total Web Presence
It’s no longer enough just to have a website, even a good one. Your entire online presence has to be in line with your strategy. Your website, your social media channels, your review channels, your online advertising.
That means consistent branding, delivering your core message on your website and through what you post in social media. All of it works together to create a total online presence that represents your brand and speaks to your ideal client (and to Google, telling it you are a valuable source of information). Your online engagement has to be at the centre of your marketing strategy.
Step 5: Operate a Lead Generation Trio
Like everything else, lead generation has evolved in the digital age. Generating new business is less about going out and finding it than it is about setting yourself up to be found. By setting up a lead generation trio using advertising, PR, and referrals, you can create an engine that generates valuable leads through three channels.
Advertising educational content gets the trust-building content you create in front of new eyeballs. Building relationships to generate PR extends your reach and credibility. Creating a referral program will deliver new leads directly from your existing customers, and these are usually your highest quality leads.
Step 6: Make Selling a System
Just like good marketing is a system, good selling is, too. A marketing system focuses on generating new leads, while a selling system focuses on nurturing those leads until they become buyers, repeat buyers, and referrers.
Your lead conversion system should contain a discovery process, a presentation, a nurturing cycle, an orientation process built into the transaction, and, finally, a review process to communicate results.
Step 7: Living by the Calendar
Congratulations, you made it to step 7. The final step is about making sure all the work involved in your marketing system gets done on a consistent basis, whether you’re doing it yourself or have someone like us doing it for you. That’s why it’s critical to live by the calendar and make doing your marketing a habit.
Have monthly themes driving your focus each month, weekly reviews to make sure you are on track, and schedule a time daily dedicated to your marketing.
Follow these 7 steps and you’ll build a marketing system that will grow your business. There’s a lot more great detail in the ebook that will help you set up your own successful small business marketing system. I strongly recommend taking the time to download and read it. You’ll thank me if you do.
If you want to talk about how we can help you create and install a marketing success system in your business get in touch.