Business Conundrum #31
Q. “I admit I don’t know how to market myself. I need to get my message out there, and I don’t know where to start. It seems these days there are so many choices – you have to have a killer website, you have to be networking, you have to be doing Facebook and Twitter, you need a blog – I just don’t know how to really go about it. Help!”
A. Marketing is a big subject, so let’s just start with the basics – like who your audience is, what you do for them, and what makes you different. Then we can talk about how to get your message out there.
1. Choose a narrow market
Choosing your audience is important – you can’t market to everyone. The narrower your audience focus, the more you’ll appeal to them, because they’ll know you’re concentrating on them (and you’re therefore an expert), and your marketing can be more specific. So don’t choose “small businesses,” choose “physicians.” Or better yet, choose “plastic surgeons,” or even, “plastic surgeons nearing retirement.” This doesn’t mean you won’t work with other small businesses, it just means you’ll only direct your marketing efforts to plastic surgeons.
2. Clearly articulate what you do for them
If you can’t accurately describe how you help your customers, it’ll be difficult to attract them. I know that sounds crazy but you won’t believe the number of people I talk to who struggle with this. Even when it’s not that different from what others in the industry do, many small business owners can’t describe what they do in simple language that makes sense to prospective customers. Go to a networking meeting and listen to the profusion of bad 60-second commercials and you’ll know what I mean.
3. Figure out what makes you different
Regardless of the industry you’re in, there’s bound to be lots of competition. Many other people are offering the same products and services you are. So why should anyone buy from you instead of the other guy marketing to plastic surgeons who offers what you offer? What have people said is the reason they keep coming back to you? And I’m not talking about things like meeting deadlines or staying in budget – those things are expected. What really makes you different – the really important reasons? This is the heart of the matter. Once you know this, you can tie it all together.
Speaking of the basics, here’s a little graphic that will help you – I call it Getting Your Message Out There, because that’s what we all need to do. It consists of only three things, and that’s what makes it so powerful. If you take a look at your favorite places to spend money, you’ll see this repeated often – whether it’s Starbucks or Apple or the corner deli or the favorite coach you like to work with. Every business that gets through to you with their messages enough that you sit up and take notice, whether you actually purchase from them or not, has figured this out.
Corner #1: Difference They know what makes them different and they’ve figured out how to communicate it to you. No matter how big or how small they are, they tell you something about the value they provide to you — how they help, the excitement or inspiration you feel, something personal, something you can see as having a relation to your life. It’s not all about their products and services.
Corner #2: Consistency They communicate their value to you consistently. What they tell you is strong and steady and it doesn’t change much. They know what value they bring and they’re consistent in their communication of it.
Corner #3: Frequency They communicate to you frequently – you see their message often, in many different ways. They make sure they’re in touch.
Easy peasy, right?
So before you head off to create that killer website or write that blog, or even go to your next networking meeting, do this:
- Make sure you know who your market is so you can talk specifically to them
- Be able to clearly articulate what you do for them in words they can understand
- Know what makes you different and be able to talk about it in authentic and engaging ways
Then, the methods you use to get your message out there are up to you, as long as they’re used with consistency and frequency. You don’t have to do everything.
And doing anything, without having the above in place, is just wasted effort.