Get your small business marketing into game shape
The economy is forcing many of us in small business to re-focus our efforts in marketing. Having returned perhaps for the first time in years after successfully growing our business by word-of-mouth and the occasional advertisement here and there, we find the landscape vastly changed. We’re not in the shape we once were.
I’d like to suggest that getting your marketing into ‘game shape’ for your small business is all about renewing your information, focus, and action.
Please permit me to use a parallel example for just a moment.
Whether you Golf or not you know who Tiger Woods is. He recently returned to Golf from a much ballyhooed eight month layoff due to a knee injury. He opted to return in a match play event, a format of golf that he’s particularly celebrated in. Tiger was ousted by a much weaker player in the second round of the event despite the fact that he’s won many events after injuries and long layoffs. I was interested to learn about Tiger’s mental state before the match from Wall Street Journal reporter John Paul Newport.
“One can only speculate, of course, but I’m drawn to a comment he made on his Web site the week before the Accenture. He said he was “full-bore” with his practice sessions and faced no restrictions, but didn’t yet have his “golf stamina” back” – John Paul Newport of Wall Street Journal ‘Tiger’s Search for Golf Stamina‘
As small business owners we have much we can take away from this parallel to apply to our own marketing efforts. If we’ve been out of the game we need to study, practice, and most importantly do. For Tiger, that’s a Golf tournament. For small business owners like us it means we need to get marketing.
We can start but cutting out old ineffective advertising, re-evaluate our current marketing message for efficacy, and find the best crop of current tools and methods to reach our customers.
The final stage of doing is typically the most difficult for all of us. It’s when we must face our fear of the unknown and fear of failure. In the past, marketing and advertising has done much to validate this fear because of the high cost of experimenting with different advertising methods. Ads cost a lot of money. Figuring out which ads work and which ones don’t isn’t exactly an easy thing to do when cash and credit is as tight as it is right now.
Today we have many reasons for hope.
No More Gatekeepers
The Internet has removed the gatekeepers to your customers. The gatekeepers of old included media like Newspapers, Yellow Pages, Direct Mail, Radio, TV and others that you had to pay ridiculous amounts of money to in order to reach (or communicate) with your customer. All without any guaranty of performance.
Contrast that with today when you can employ a free online self-publishing tool like WordPress for your small business website, optimize it for local searches (local search engine optimization), and install free services from Google like their analytics package to monitor your visitor’s behavior. These tools are accessible to any small business with a little study and practice.
Even if you pay an expert like us to re-design your website and optimize it for Local SEO that’s only a one-time investment. Even compared to one month’s worth of traditional advertising like Yellow Pages it’s a bargain.
Using free Google tools like Google Analytics and Google Website Optimizer you can even mimic a large ad agency and do sophisticated a/b testing on offers to see which offer performs better. Three years ago A/B testing could have cost you five to ten thousand dollars.
Other ways to directly connect with your customer for free
Today, individuals, businesses of all sizes, and even stars like Lance Armstrong and Britney Spears are using social media like Twitter to directly connect with friends, audiences and yes, even buyers. Consumers have realized through blogs that we are no longer reliant on mainstream media for our information or our business. Businesses have cottoned on to blog marketing for its positive impact on both search engine optimization and branding. Once you have a direct connection with your customer you can build a real relationship in any manner of ways.
If you spend time studying, practicing and doing Internet marketing you’ll soon realize new customers can be found on a shoestring budget. You’ll have to roll up your sleeves if you want to tap into the biggest savings, but that’s better than the past when you had no choice at all.
Once you’ve dialed in your best marketing message you’ll continue to find new efficiencies, insights, and nuances not apparent to you before. The field will open up. You’ll be in game shape. And you won’t be dropping two grand every time you sneeze while you’re trying to figure it out.
Welcome back, it’s good to have you back in the game.