So you’ve finally taken the plunge and started your own business. Whether a boutique, restaurant, salon, or dental practice, you’ve decided the time has come to realize the dream of being your own boss. While congratulations are certainly in order, you’re probably feeling a little overwhelmed by the idea that the success or failure of your business lies directly on your shoulders.
The vast majority of would-be entrepreneurs never summon the courage necessary to start their own business due to a fear they won’t manage it successfully. So while opening your own business certainly requires believing in yourself, it also takes some business savvy to keep it up and running.
One of the biggest hurdles first time entrepreneurs must quickly overcome is learning how to market their small business. It doesn’t matter if your boutique offers the best selection of clothes and accessories, or if your bakery makes the best cookies in town, if no one knows where to find you. Marketing is the key to building your brand and solidifying your business. However, for small business owners without any marketing experience, this can seem a little overwhelming. Fortunately, our team at Local Fresh can teach small business owners the keys to effectively developing and implementing a marketing strategy.
Step 1: Determine Your Business’ Unique Value Proposition (UVP)
The first step towards developing a successful marketing strategy is understanding what role your business fills within your industry.
Unless you’ve developed a completely original concept for a business that no else has previously thought of, you will eventually face competition. To understand where your business fits, you need to know what separates you from the competition. This means you need to become as informed about your industry and the competition as possible. Start reading relevant trade publications, participate in industry related events, and sign up to receive newsletters from others in your industry. The better you understand what your industry and competition is doing, the more quickly you’ll be able to recognize emerging trends, while also staying up-to-date with the latest information. This will also help you to better identify your closest competition. Look closely at how they market themselves to potential customers and try to determine what part of their strategy promises the greatest success for your brand.
Once you’ve gained a better understanding about the competition it’s time to start identifying your target audience and what they want. Assuming they understand what their customers want without doing the research is one of the most common mistakes made by small business owners.
You need to clearly identify how the services you are offering help to solve a problem for your target audience. This will help you to better define your UVP – the unique value you can provide your customer base.
Keep in mind that you’re not trying to sell to everybody. No matter what your product or service, some people just won’t be interested. That’s actually a good thing, because it allows you to clearly define who you need to target in order to make your business a success.
Step 2: Begin to Develop Your Online Presence
The early success of many small businesses can be directly traced back to how well they managed their online presence, starting with their website.
You cannot overstate just how important getting the design of your website right is to the long-term success of your business. Your website acts as more than just a digital business card, providing the basic details of the who, what, and where of your business. Your website is a portal that potential customers can use to gain a better understanding of what a business stands for and whether they should trust it enough to become a customer.
While the design, font, photos, and interface all matter, what’s really important when it comes to building your business’ website is that’s easy and intuitive to use. You have very little time to capture a user’s attention, and you risk them clicking away after just a few seconds if your website appears clunky or difficult to navigate. Fortunately, our team of small business website designers at Local Fresh can help you build a great looking website that offers the form and function needed to attract customers and keep them coming back for more.
Once your website is up and running, you need to take the time to establish your business on review platforms such as Yelp and Angie’s List. Not only do these types of websites help to build trust among prospective customers, they also provide you with an opportunity to demonstrate your outstanding customer service skills should a customer leave a negative review or comment. While it’s tempting to avoid these types of sites due to the damage a negative review can do, you’ll be surprised at just how responsive customers can be when they see a business directly address an issue and offer to help resolve the problem rather than ignoring the complaint and hope that no one notices.
Step 3: Begin a Conversation
Now that you’ve identified your target audience and built a website designed to meet their needs, it’s time to start using social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to communicate directly with your potential customer base.
Select a channel that your customers use heavily. Keep in mind that while Facebook may seem like an obvious place to start, that may not be the right platform for your audience. If you run a boutique that features the latest fashions, Instagram offers a much better avenue for you to showcase your collection in vivid detail. Conversely, if you operate a manufacturing firm that relies on establishing B2B relationships, LinkedIn offers you far more reach than sending out a few tweets and hoping to find that someone is listening.
Whatever platform you decide to use consistency is going to be the key to your success. Make sure to set an editorial calendar that will both keep you regularly posting content and provide your audience a better sense of when they can expect to see something new.
When planning out the type of content you plan on producing always keep one central question in mind – “Is this something that would interest my target audience?” This is just one of the reasons why understanding your target audience is so vital to the success of a small business. No matter how great, compelling, or well-written the content you create, if your target audience isn’t interested in what you have to say it’s not going to make the impact you’d hope for.
Step 4: Be Willing to Pay for Exposure
The paid components of social media and platforms like Google Adwords can offer a great way to market your small business to a large portion of potential new customers.
For example, you can use the analytics tools of platforms like Facebook, Google and LinkedIn to directly target specific customer types based on the demographic information you provide. Google and Facebook will then match that information with what their users have provide to show your paid content only to those who closely match your target audience.
Paying for this type of exposure can be expensive for a small business just starting out. It’s also something that’s not recommended for any business that has yet to clearly identify who their target audience is, all the way down to age, sex, socioeconomic status, and other relevant details that will help to better shape your targeted marketing efforts.
Local Fresh Can Help
Regardless of the size of your business, mastering the tricks of marketing can make an enormous impact in your company’s long-term success. Fortunately, you don’t have to try marketing your small business alone. Local Fresh’s team of small business marketing experts are here to help boost your brand and establish the lasting relationships with customers needed to help your business boom.