One of the biggest challenges for small, local businesses is getting noticed.
The truth is that local businesses have unique advantages over the big boxers, and if they are strategic about it, they can carve out a sweet piece of the market pie.
The Good News
In recent years, there has been a huge resurgence in customers wanting to shop local and support the community. Emarketer recently reported the following: U.S. consumers are choosing small businesses because of the personalized experiences they provide compared with larger businesses. According to April 2014 data from AYTM Market Research, personal service was the Number 2 reason U.S. internet users preferred small businesses vs. large companies, cited by 52.7%. This trailed supporting the local economy (56.2%). What’s more, prices did not play a huge role in choosing small businesses. In fact, 61.2% of respondents said they would pay higher prices to support small businesses.
The truth is people are rooting for you to succeed! Here are 3 ways to help make that happen.
Don’t Put the Cart Before the Horse
One of the biggest and most expensive mistakes I see with small, local businesses is putting the cart (creating a website or ad campaign) before the horse (doing your core branding work so you actually know who you are and what you stand for).
Brands aren’t just for the Big Boys. For local businesses, it more important than ever to create a distinctive look and memorable message to cut through the clutter and stand out. This also includes rebranding your company if it’s stuck in the last century. Rebranding doesn’t have to be a big, time-consuming overhaul that requires a mega investment. It can be as straightforward as updating your logo or graphic look. Giving your website a facelift. Or revamping your message so it reaches more of your ideal customers or clients. All of this has a direct impact on your bottom line. What’s more, if you are thinking of selling your business down the road, your brand is what companies buy. Not what you make or serve.
Find Your Customers and Give Them What They Want
I just did a survey to my email list and asked them what are the 3 biggest marketing challenges in their business. Number 1: Reaching their ideal customer or client. No wonder. It’s noisy out there! How do you get to the people that want what you have? Do what I did: Ask.
Here are some questions to get you started:
- Who is the perfect demographic for your offer? (Ex: age, gender, location, income, marital status, education level)
- Who are the thought leaders, experts or celebrities in your niche that your people might follow?
- What are the most popular books or magazines in your niche? Who are the most popular bloggers and podcasters in your niche?
- Where do your people shop? What retailers or vendors do your people buy from (related to your niche)?
Think of tools, software, resources they might use that relates to your area of expertise.
- What are the most popular associations or professional organizations in your niche that your people might belong to?
- What Facebook pages are “liked” by your people?
- What Facebook groups do your perfect people belong to?
- What are the most popular online discussion forums in your niche?
- What are the most popular LinkedIn groups in your niche?
Stay tuned! I will be giving a free Master Class on this very subject in the next few weeks.
Rinse and Repeat
Now that you have a distinctive brand and know where your customers hang out, it’s time to work it. What I tell my clients is that when you start getting sick of hearing your message, you are on the right track. Consistency is everything. It takes 7–21 times of seeing, hearing and meeting your brand in some form for a potential customer to make an actual purchase. So launching a cool website or Facebook page is just the beginning. Now you have to develop a strategic plan and implement it to get your message heard by the people who want to buy your product or service. Caution: Make sure your strategy is specific and doesn’t include every marketing vehicle under the sun. For local businesses, it’s more important than ever to go deep with 2-3 marketing tactics that you work over and over and over again, than going wide with 5 or more you kinda sorta do. But no matter what, make sure your strategy includes a digital presence. This is where a small business can look BIG.
Need help with that?
Email me at carolyn@mindovermarkets for a free strategy session to create a clear, powerful and focused strategy for your business in 2016.
Carolyn Parrs, founder of Women Of Green