Marketing is ever changing. Marketing 5 years ago is different to today and it will be different again tomorrow. We are changing. We expect more. We read between the lines. And we understand what we want and why we want it more than ever.
What one marketer believes works is different for another. And a certain marketing strategy that works miracles for one business doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for the next. For this reason, marketing can create a headache for small business owners who are already dealing with every aspect in their business from the accounting to the end sale.
Marketers frequently say, ‘The cost of marketing doesn’t matter - it’s the return that counts.’ While there is a certain amount of truth to this, they don’t factor in the following 3 main concerns for small business owners.
Most small business owners don’t actually have thousands sitting in their bank account to spend on marketing – regardless of any ‘promised’ return.
Small business owners have too much riding on their livelihood to sign-up to monthly marketing agency fees. Did I mention they struggle to even pay themselves some weeks?
All business owners want to grow their small business, but the reality of growth means possibly adding employees or increasing to an unmanageable workload. It also means adjusting processes and changing up routine. There are no negatives here, but keep in mind that it is human nature to fear change.
If we take into account what obstacles are faced by small business owners and strip back on the basics of what marketing really is, we can unlock the secret to real business growth.
Business growth works best from the inside out – not just applying a ‘marketing mix’ and hoping for the best.
Marketing from the inside out and it doesn’t cost a cent!
The fundamental step missing from businesses seeking growth is correctly analysing your existing situation and understanding the gaps that ultimately lose sales for your business (plugging your sales funnel).
Marketing from the inside out means making sure the soil and weather conditions are optimal, before you start sprinkling with fertilisers… (aka marketing activities).
A great place to start when looking at your business:
- How do you manage your customer service?
Do you have a system that ensures you’re handling your clients correctly? Look at all of the factors involved when dealing with your clients and make sure you’re providing a smooth and professional system that supports you, your business and most importantly takes the pain away for your clients. Your number one goal would be to make it a wonderful experience for your customer that makes them want to tell their family and friends about you!
- How do you manage customer expectations?
Sometimes in business, there are components that require clear rules or boundaries that save the customer (and you) from a bad experience. If you don’t set clear expectations and process boundaries, you’re at risk of many complaints and unhappy clients. For example: If your product/service takes 5 days to complete, ensure that the customer is aware of your turnaround times upfront. Always, (Always 100%) deliver on or before schedule. Never over promise and under deliver—it will never end well and you can’t grow a business on unhappy clients.
- Do you have well written and documented policies and procedures?
Probably sounds boring and a bit OCD. But it is especially important for you and your small business if you think you don’t need them. A well-documented policy & procedure will ensure you (and your staff if you have them) keep on task. It will also make you think about how you do business and push yourself to perform better. A procedure will save you when you’re sick and you need someone to fill in. It will enforce professionalism and most importantly help your business by keeping you accountable.
- Does your business genuinely seek to help customers or to simply sell to them?
Sales 101. It’s changed. Sales systems and methods are being outdated by our ever-changing society. We can see through every ‘tactic’ in the book. We are different these days. We don’t want to be sold to. So press the delete button on every sales trick you thought you knew and apply one simple rule to your sales system. Base everything you do on the benefit of your customer and not on your bottom line. If you’re only in it for the money or the sale, you’ll feel like you’re pushing baggage up a steep and never-ending hill.
In business there’s no such thing as a quick fix because the cracks will always reappear when the ground shakes (and in small business the ground can shake a lot!)
It can be hard to analyse the inside—especially when we can’t see it, but it’s important to get this right otherwise your marketing dollar will not reach its full potential. Building a business is hard work and marketing will always perform better if you do.