Well, let’s wade into a refreshing new concept!
I’m so tired of marketing blogs just pointing out everything you’re doing wrong (“10 Common Mistakes…”) or what you’re missing out on (“The Most Effective _______ You Never Knew Existed”)! This may be surprising to you, but I firmly believe that you probably already have much of what you need to market your business. These are three things I know you have and can use in your marketing:
Your company is good at doing something or is attractive for some reason, or you wouldn’t still be in business. The thing that your company can be great at doing is called your core competency and the reason why people choose your company over your competitors is called your value proposition. People often get those confused because they are so often linked in marketing, but they are actually very different. For instance, an advertisement that reads, “Organic Rug Cleaning with Top-Rated Customer Service” presents both a core competency and also a value proposition. The core competency here is organic rug cleaning and the value proposition is the top-rated customer service. While it is important to know what your value proposition is so that you know how to pitch your services, you also need to be able to define what it is that you do better than anyone else.
Honing in on your core competency allows you to start branding your company for that smaller focus area. In the case of a rug cleaner, there are lots of rug cleaners out there but identifying yourself as an organic rug cleaner means that when someone is looking for a green solution, you will be the go-to name that they think of. It’s less competitive to carve out a specific core competency for your business than it is to try to be all things to all people, which means that it’s easier to build a brand following. Use your core competency every time your business gets mentioned to reinforce that branding. Also, use your core competency to branch out and open up other opportunities. In this example, use your organic angle to reach out to wellness bloggers or exhibit at a green convention. Your core competency exists already in your business, so use it to market your business!
Some Business Assets
Every business has assets – maybe not tangible assets, but assets. Sure, many businesses have physical stock or inventory but assets can be anything valuable to your business that you can use to market yourself. Your assets may be your industry knowledge and experience as a business owner, dedicated and hardworking employees, your exacting standards, a record of excellence, your passion, a long history of success, professional connections, etc. Leverage these in your marketing by positioning your company to show off the big pieces that keep your business ticking. If core competency is what you can do better than anyone else, your assets are the moving pieces that keep everything running so you can be great at that thing. Your assets are always changing, so don’t be afraid to issue a press release if something changes in your business (like if you acquire new technology or a new rock star employee) and then incorporate that new change into your brand positioning.
At Least a Few Successes and Failures
Every business has successes and failures. You don’t need to publicize all of these (well, maybe just the successes), but learning from them is a great way to know how to (and how not to) market your company. For instance, I read about a study in the book SuperFreakonomics, which showed that the mailers that are sent to your home by your energy company to encourage you reduce your energy usage have drastically different outcomes depending on how they are worded. Mailers were sent using text that reflected three different motivations – saving money, saving the environment and fitting in with your neighbors who were already reducing their energy. Which do you think was most effective? I would guessed that it would have been the money saving angle, but I was wrong. In the cases of saving money and saving the environment, there was no reduction in energy usage (and in some cases energy usage actually increased slightly). In the last case of appealing to customers to fit in with their neighbors, energy usage dropped significantly. It wasn’t until the energy companies tried the first two motivators as calls-to-action that they discovered that they were ineffective. Using those failures, they were able to go in another direction and try peer pressure to get people to reduce their energy usage. Now they can market energy usage in another way, a more effective way because of those initial failures. In much the same way, your business can learn from past experiences!
By Kate Pierce. Kate Pierce is the owner of LionShark Digital Marketing LLC, a West Michigan internet marketing company. Her areas of expertise include Paid Search, Search Engine Optimization, Social Media, Web Consulting for small businesses, Copywriting and Local Online Marketing. She lives in the Grand Rapids area with her husband and enjoys cooking, watching sports and spending time outdoors. Like a true digital marketing expert (i.e. geek), she loves talking about marketing theory and SEM trends… so don’t say you weren’t warned!