Great marketing doesn’t require a huge media budget. Successful marketing is never unethical, underhanded or undesirable, and it doesn’t involve super-slick sales pitches. If you’ve been putting off marketing because a fear of the items I’ve just mentioned, relax. There’s a better way.
Successful marketing that builds client relationships and grows your business doesn’t have to be expensive-but it does require time, thought and effort. Great marketing is structured by planning, guided by your own unique business story, fueled by your passion, channeled through your beliefs and shared through a variety of low-cost, high-impact techniques. Put that all together, and you’ve got a marketing equation that really adds up.
All marketing should be directly linked to your business plan. Every marketing action should advance one or more business plan goals. If the marketing action isn’t linked to a goal, why is it there? Either you need another goal or you don’t need the marketing action. Be sure to decide up front how you will measure success. Will your counter staff count coupons? Will you track web traffic? Are you going to look at sales volume or the number of new customers or walk-in traffic? If you don’t know what success should look like upfront, you won’t know whether you’ve got it or not at the end of your campaign.
-The Power of Your Real Story
Every business has a story because every business owner has a reason he or she got into the business. Something made you invest the time and effort to learn a profession, invest in a business or study a trade. Your reasons for doing so are unique, and they are part of your unique business story. There may be a story in your product-if is it fundamentally different and truly works better than previous options. Your story may be the real benefit you provide to your clients and how you ended a painful situation for them or created prosperity. Or your story may focus on how you want to change the world-or even a little corner of it. Uncover your Real Story and weave it into your marketing, and you have a competitive edge no one can duplicate because it is your unique story.
Identifying your Real Story helps to put you back in touch with the passion that got you into this business in the first place. That passion will be the fuel to take your marketing to new heights. So many business owners get so busy with the details that they forget about their passion. Once that happens, marketing becomes just another chore. Think about it this way. If you discovered an amazing restaurant that had phenomenal food at a great price, you’d tell everyone you met about it. You’d volunteer the information because it was that good. In other words, your passion is doing the restaurant’s marketing for them. When’s the last time you felt that passionate about the solution or product you provide? You must be your first best “true believer.” That passion and sincerity will ignite others.
-Belief makes the difference
Entrepreneurs and business owners who are passionate about their companies share some common beliefs. Those beliefs fire them up and keep them motivated-and drive them to tell everyone about their product or service. You can do it to. Think about these four statements. Say them out loud and recapture the passion that propelled you to start your business.
“I believe I am making the world a better place. I believe whole-heartedly that I (or my product and service) can solve a problem or improve a client’s situation. I believe in myself, in my product and in my clients and their companies. I want to help my clients because I whole-heartedly support their companies or products.”
If there are any of those statements you can’t say with full sincerity, you have identified something that is a drag on your business growth and your marketing because it siphons off your passion and your energy and makes you less enthusiastic about marketing.
Here are the top five low-cost, high-impact marketing techniques that can use your passion to generate great positive publicity.
o Public Relations-press releases, simple events, articles and speaking engagements cost little or nothing and pay big dividends
o Online marketing-blogs, web sites, participation in forums or industry bulletin boards, hosting or speaking on podcasts and Internet radio shows, sending e-newsletters, utilizing Social Networking sites like MySpace and Facebook, making the most of online profiles as a member of professional organizations and writing e-books are all free or minimal cost opportunities to reach the whole world with your message.
o Networking-Sure, you can pay for lunch at a professional meeting, and that can lead to a new client. But networking happens every time you talk with someone. Ask your clients for testimonials and referrals. Ask your family and friends for referrals. Stay in touch with your clients and prospects with helpful tips and good ideas. Carry your business cards everywhere-you never know how you might meet standing in line!
o Community relations-Choose your volunteer commitments with care. Volunteer in ways that showcase your professional capabilities or in places where you’re likely to meet other business people who could become clients. Keep your logo or company name visible-on your shirt, your car, your stationery or your email signature. When you complete a successful leadership assignment, ask for referrals and testimonials!
o Signage/Materials-Keep your logo and your company name visible 24/7. Utilize magnetic car signs, location signage, street signage. Print the name of your company on everything-shirts, business cards, stationery, brochures, boxes and bags. Make sure your website and your email include your company name.