What the f#%! is marketing anyway? And why does my small business need it?

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As a small business owner, your top priority is making enough money for your business to survive. Your ultimate goal is to make so much that you thrive. How do you do that? By having a great marketing strategy, because marketing is your plan for making money. It’s really important.

If you want to make money, you need a marketing plan.

So, the burning question: “What the f#%! is marketing anyway?”

When I ask small business owners how they market their business they’ll say something like ‘We’re on Facebook’ or ‘We get all our customers from Instagram’. 

Facebook ads and Instagram posts are great however, they’re only a small part of marketing. 

Yes, marketing includes advertising and promotion, but its also:

  • Customer service, engagement and relationships
  • Market research
  • Business reputation 
  • Products and services 
  • Pricing structures and sales

In short, it’s all the aspects of running your business which make you money.

Some marketers would have you believe that marketing is some secret, complicated mystery that only professionals can undertake. That’s bullshit. Marketing is not hard and it’s not complicated. 

As a small business owner you can easily understand it, and once you do it’ll transform your enterprise. And, with the right teacher, you can master marketing.

A great place to start is with a definition. There are many definitions of marketing and, while they all mean the same, the specifics vary slightly. My favourite is this:

Marketing is the big picture planning you use to get your tribe
to know you, like you and trust you enough to become a recurring customer

Essentially, marketing is everything you do which converts a complete stranger into a recurring customer. 

Let’s break down the definition into 4 questions:

  1. Who are your tribe?
  2. How do you get them to know, like and trust you?
  3. When they do, how do they become customers?
  4. Once they’re customers how do we make them come back (recur) for more?
1. Who is your tribe?

First, you need to understand your tribe. In traditional marketing speak your tribe is your target audience. They are the people you sell your products or services to. In his book, Tribes, Seth Godin writes: “A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea.”

I really like the idea of tribes. Quite apart from the Neanderthal images it conjures up, it emphasises our basic need for connection. As humans, we want to feel we belong. 

As a small business owner, your goal is to find a group of people whose lives will improve with your product or service. Therefore, it is your duty to uncover our tribe, to connect with those whose lives we can improve.

Identifying your tribe is the first step to understanding marketing.

2. How do you get them to know, like and trust you?

Once you know your tribe, the second stage of the process is to get them to know, like and trust you. This is the main thrust of marketing, the process of converting a complete stranger to someone trusts you.

There are many different ways to achieve this, the details of which are far beyond the scope of one little blog. What’s important here, is that it’s a process. 

Do you know what percentage of people buy a product or service the first time they engage with it? It’s tiny. Only 3%. If you’re focusing all your marketing on social media posts and ads, you’re losing 97% of potential customers. Of course, not all the 97% would buy from you anyway. 60% are not interested, even if you gave it away for free. BUT, that leaves 37% of people who are interested, just not right now. Thirty seven percent. Bloody hell, that’s loads!!

In other words, these are the people to make connections with. These are the ones who, with a bit of time  and effort on your part, will grow to know, like and trust you.

Direct Response Marketing

Social media posts and adverts alone are simply not enough. However, as small business owners, we are in a unique position. Connecting directly with prospective customers is easy. It’s called Direct Response Marketing. 

Direct Response Marketing is incredibly effective. It really works. It’s kind of like magic. Gone are the days of placing countless adverts in magazines and journals and not knowing which ones are working for you. In todays world, direct response marketing will benefit your small business.

So what is it? It’s the myriad of ways we can connect with our tribe. For instance, we connect with email, websites, blogs, videos, Q&A forums, podcasts and education sites. These great tools allow us to be seen as leaders within our tribe. They are your routes to glory!

Using Direct Response Marketing tools will lead your tribe to know, like and trust you and this is where you should concentrate your efforts.

3. When they know, like and trust you, how do they become a customer?

The third stage of your marketing journey is to get your prospects to become customers. You do this by earning their trust. Once someone from your tribe trusts you, converting them to a customer is simple. As a society, we’re so fed up of being sold to that we’ve become mistrustful. We’ve been burned too many times, been sold too much stuff we didn’t need or want. So, when someone comes along and we feel we have a connection with them, we don’t mind parting with our money.

Establishing trust is the key to success for your business. It’s what all your marketing activities should be geared around. Once people trust you, selling is as simple as asking for their business. It doesn’t even need to be overt. For instance, an offer in an email, a referral from a friend, an upgrade from a free service to the paid one. All of these are effective techniques which convert someone from trusted prospect to customer.

4. Once they’re customers, how do we make them come back (recur) for more?

The final stage in the marketing process is keeping your customers coming back for more. Most small businesses focus all their effort on getting new customers. New customers are great of course, but did you know it costs 5 times more to attract a new customer than to keep an existing one? Five times! Wowzers!!! As small business owners, with limited budgets this information is absolute gold!

Forming long-standing loyal customers is the key to your success. This is where your business can grow and grow. 

Once again, this is where small business owners can really excel. It’s far easier for you to form meaningful relationships with customers than it is for big companies. The cold, nameless, humdrum front of corporates has nothing on your welcoming, friendly and interesting business.

You wow your customers by providing awesome customer service and maintaining a great relationship with them. So keeping up with your face-to-face contact, email, blogs, videos, podcasts is just as important for your current customers as it is for your new ones. 

Get yourself a marketing plan

Finally, you need to bring this all together. Now you know why you need marketing, your next step is to write a plan. Without a clear marketing plan, how you are going to convince complete strangers to buy from you? If you don’t know what you’re doing, how can you possibly be effective?

Nothing about marketing is new, groundbreaking or revolutionary. There are no hacks, secrets or quick fixes. The road to success has been forged a long time ago and you just need a map. 

If you desire a time-freeing business which allows you to live the life you’ve always wanted, then you need a clear marketing plan. You need to know your tribe, what journey to take them on to know, like and trust you and how to convert them into customers. Once they are customers the final step is to wow them so they come back for more, and bring their friends. 

You can do all of these things. You have it in you. In conclusion: Take the time to write a marketing plan. Pin it on your wall. Then do it and watch your business soar!

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