Are You Letting Your Competitors Decide Your Marketing?

competitionNothing in the world gets me as fired up as small businesses doing something to market their business because they’ve seen their competitors doing it. It happens so often that it’s like some deeply buried, embarrassing secret of all entrepreneurs.

Why A Copy Cat?

The major reason why I see this happening is because small business owners don’t really HAVE a business strategy or a plan that goes along with it. They not only don’t have it, they don’t really even know HOW to get one. They guess at their own target client profile. They rarely have a focus on what 1 thing they’re an expert in. They are unsure about where to go out and find clients. They are simply coasting by while doing what I sarcastically call the-trial-and-error marketing.

When you don’t know how to market your business, the best resource is to do what someone else is doing. Isn’t it? Wrong!

Competition Who?

In my world, if you are very focused on an ideal target group of clients and have a crystal clear expertise to offer to them. You don’t truly have competition. In addition, if you’ve differentiated your brand by virtue of using your own personality to put a stamp on your marketing and your business, there is simply no other business exactly like you.

When you have done the work to get the right strategy and plan in place, you are in a class of your own. That’s when you can stop looking at others for your own plan of action and blaze your own trail so others who don’t know what they’re doing can follow.

Be An Original

The number one way I know to be successful in this sea of competitors is to be different. You don’t have to be a creative genius to decide how to do that. Just be yourself and reject the tried and true way. Do it your way instead. Put some thought, get some help, ask your customers HOW to be different and how to continually generate customer centric marketing. What you focus on grows. When all you think about is being An Original, there is nothing that can stop you.

What About Tried And True Wisdom?

I want to point out that until you figure out your own way to do things, by all means adopt the commonly established rules of marketing. For example, offer an irresistible download on your homepage to collect lead information, blog often, public speak. You can do all those things but do them in line with your own niche, your own plan and in fitting with your own brand. That STILL doesn’t mean you should let your competitors dictate your web design, your ad copy or your marketing plan.

Need more chicken soup for your biz? Follow me on Twitter, friend me on Facebook, watch me on YouTube or connect with me on LinkedIn –and let’s talk

Is Your Web Presence Getting You More Customers?

You think you’re a hot shot online? Think again, in  ‘s Inc Magazine article, study findings show that customers think a lot less of your business than you think they do. Here are the stats:

A recent study by Web.com found that small businesses underestimated the opportunity they have to build relationships with customers via the web and also overestimated their positive presence online.

Only 50 percent of consumers surveyed reported that small businesses meet or exceed their expectations in terms of a web and social media presence–something most businesses owners don’t realize. Of the small business decision-makers who were surveyed, 61 percent rated their websites positively, while only 46 percent of consumers shared the same view.

http://www.inc.com/abigail-tracy/small-businesses-missing-out-on-social-media.html

The big reason for the disconnect between what consumers think of a small business’ online presence and what the small business decision makers think of their presence is the expectations each group has around web presence. I can’t stress talking to your clients enough. Ask them all day, every day what they think of you, your presence and  your industry. Find out what’s happening in their minds, then change your marketing to fit their reality, not yours.

You’ll be the wealthiest small business owner if you base your entire marketing, including online presence on your CONSUMERS’ insights.

Need more chicken soup for your biz? Follow me on Twitter, friend me on Facebook, watch me on YouTube or connect with me on LinkedIn –and let’s talk

How to Engage Customers on a Dime

One of the biggest fears for small businesses around marketing is that it’s expensive. As a no-nonsense marketing coach, I often tell my clients that this just ain’t so. You truly can engage your customers on a dime and  in his article in Entrepreneur Magazine agrees with me. Here are some great cheap or free resources you can use to snag your future clients’ love:

 Paid Media. Newspaper advertising is a good example — something many small  businesses utilize locally.

Owned Media. These are the brand assets you own that  you can use to relay your message, like your website or your packaging.

Earned Media. This is when you get someone else to tell your message on your behalf, mostly because they inherently agree with you  or are motivated to promote you.

Trade Media. When you partner with another brand and  you “trade” assets to leverage the power of joint marketing.

Shared Media.  Facebook, which is a form of owned media, is certainly  shared media as well.Read more: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/227690#ixzz2bU6bVYvC

In an era when some ridiculous guy from across the globe can Gangnam Stylize the entire world through free media, what’s to stop your small business from getting a few extra clients the same way?

Need more chicken soup for your biz? Follow me on Twitter, friend me on Facebook or connect with me on LinkedIn –and let’s talk

Business Not Growing? Take a Look at Your Calendar

busyBusy is the new black. We are almost hilariously competing with each other for how much busier we are compared to the next gal. Last time I looked though, busy certainly didn’t translate into leads or sales. As a small business marketing coach, I gave this idea some thought and here are some key things you need to be watching out for:

What Are You So Busy With?

Your calendar is actually a crystal ball for your business performance in the coming months. Whenever a client complains that the phones aren’t ringing, I have to remind them that 3 months ago they were swamped with that big project and swimming in working IN the business which meant that all time for marketing was cut down to a big fat zero.

Look to see what percentage of your calendar is made up of working IN the business vs. working ON it? I can predict your future sales by looking at this ratio.

Face Time Much?

If your calendar shows that the majority of your time with prospects is face to face rather than through passive means like social media or your newsletter, this is also a very big indicator of your upcoming sales. My clients experience the biggest and fastest shifts in their business when they spend actual real-time with their potential clients, whether on the phone, in a networking meeting or having coffee with them.

Say Ohmmm

Your calendar is also the place you can see if you have that much sought-after balance for your life. If your calendar is jam-packed with business tasks from 8am to 10pm, 6 days a week, what I’ve learned is that something in your life is suffering. Unfortunately if you’re incapable or unwilling to shift that imbalance, no amount of meditating (ohm) or exercising is going to help. So get down to the real issue of why you’re allowing that imbalance. Is it fear that if you don’t work hard, you’ll starve? Is it in avoidance of something uncomfortable in your family relationships? Do the work on yourself to become self-aware then take a look at revising your calendar.

When your calendar reflects a balance between doing your job and marketing your job, when it’s balanced with a good hefty dose of fun and family, then you will see your business results surge.

Need more chicken soup for your biz? Follow me on Twitter, friend me on Facebook or connect with me on LinkedIn –and let’s talk

Are You Jumping In To Your Marketing?

I was walking down the street at lunch today and saw the sad story of so many failed businesses on my way. Upended barber’s chairs in an abandoned hair salon, dusty stones lined along a chiropractic pain clinic storefront, the local Blockbusters I used to haunt obsessively when I was young and single and DVD rentals still existed.

It was a poignant reminder that as a small business owner, I’m among a growing population of people who are at all times facing the loss of my livelihood. I mean, the statistics certainly bear that out when they claim that 50-70% of small businesses fail within the first 18 months. What’s a gal to do?

Take A Step Back

When I asked “are you looking for new clients” to a million dollar accounting firm I met yesterday, the partner said “Of course! We’re always looking for new clients”. When I asked him what they’re doing to market themselves, he said “Oh, we’re hiring a new social media person”. I then asked him who his bull’s eye target was and he said the CEOs of $5 million companies. I then sadly regaled him with the statistic that only 47% of CEOs participate in social media. He was surprised.

Before you decide on a marketing tactic, make sure you have a strategy in place. This huge firm had no idea of how to reach their ideal client.

Shed The Fears

Truth be told, the partner I spoke to didn’t even really want to narrow down his marketing to one niche market, saying he’d run the risk of losing his other business if he concentrated on just one industry. He then admitted that changing an accountant is worse than changing your doctor and businesses rarely do it. How would current clients even know that you’re doing a keynote at an industry association that’s unrelated to his, it’s a ridiculous fear.

Spend Where The Fish Are

When you figure out that it’s the most strategic thing to pick one group of people to grow your business with first, then figure out how to get them to notice you. That of course means, spend your money where they’re frequenting. Be where they are. Lavish attention on their problems.

Be Relevant

No matter what, make sure that your marketing dollars are of value to THEM. Each spent dollar should be in the form of a solution to your audience. For example, you should invest in a trade show booth and give them free advice at their industry conference. Spend money on creating a DVD or a booklet to address their frequently asked questions and spend money on getting it to them. This is the only way you’ll be relevant to them.

Stop jumping into your marketing. Think about why you’re doing it and what it will do for your business. Ask yourself if you’re in front of your ideal target client group. Then ask THEM if your marketing is even relevant to them.

Need more chicken soup for your biz? Follow me on Twitter, friend me on Facebook, watch me on YouTube or connect with me on LinkedIn –and let’s talk