By Brian Sutter on September 26, 2016
Take social media to the next level for your small businessWant to do more on social media for your small business?
A lot of small businesses do.
Our survey of 1,100 small businesses from earlier this year found that most small businesses have embraced social media, but that they still want more out of it.
Here are a few of the key stats from that study:
Does any of that fit with what you’re doing on social, too? Are you trying to get all that done with little to no budget?
If you are, you’re actually like many of the small businesses we surveyed 34 percent spend three percent or less of their revenue on marketing. One in 10 spends nothing.
By Caitríona Mc Bride On Sep 26, 2016
Business coach Lisa Hughes on why marketing has to stay at the very top of your agenda
Why is marketing important for my company?
Marketing is absolutely key for any business because there is nothing more important than to attract customers because you are trying to grow your revenue and grow your customers. Marketing is actually understanding your market, knowing who your customers are, targeting them effectively, crafting messages to appeal to them and targeting them in a way that is really going to bring them to your business.
Should I have a marketing plan?
Absolutely. Keep it simple, you need a plan but that is really more about “Who are my customers? What problem am I solving? How am I adding value? What solution am I providing?” and then “Where are they right now and how can I connect with them in a way that’s meaningful to them?” because you are looking to create awareness of your product, first of all, and then build that relationship between you so that when they come to buy, or need it, you are top of mind.
What are the key things to remember in my approach to marketing my business?
The most important thing is to keep your buyer persona or your target audience in mind, and really be connected to them and what their challenges or issues are. If in doubt, try something out, bring it to a bunch of people who are already customers of yours or who fit into your category and ask them questions.
What should I avoid?
Spending too much money is a really bad idea. Start small, and test. As a start-up you can get caught up in spending a lot of money which may not necessarily be working for you. Listening in marketing is so important, keeping an ear to the ground of what the customer sentiment is.
How much should I invest in marketing?
Look at every investment you make as a marketing investment. If you are building a website, that’s a marketing investment. If you’re investing in technology to better serve your customer, that’s a marketing investment because you are creating a customer experience. If you look at everything with a marketing eye then all of your budget is marketing budget in some respects. How much you should spend is about what your objectives are.
How important are branding and design?
Branding is the thing that creates the emotional connection with the customer. However, it really depends who your customer is. If you’re targeting silver surfers your Twitter account is not terribly important. If you are targeting time-poor moms in the supermarket with small children then what the packaging looks like actually is really important.
How do I approach marketing if my business grows?
Keep checking in. The biggest real danger as your company grows is that you start to become confident that you know the market and what your customer wants and you just may not. You have to stay connected because if you lose that connection you can’t speak to someone in a real, authentic voice that’s going to get to the heart of what their issues are. And the best brands stay close to their best customers.
By Ian Altman On SEP 22, 2016
When speaking at Content Marketing World recently, I said something that surprised a few people: Modern sales and marketing require both disciplines to act as one. If you see sales and marketing as two separate functions, then you are living in the past.
The shame is that in most organizations, businesses overlook the importance of a tight connection between the two parts of the organization. When you recognize how today’s customers have evolved in their buying habits, the sales and marketing connection becomes obvious.
A Silo Approach No Longer Works
We used to think of marketing and sales as having two distinct roles. The Marketing Team was there to create interest and awareness. The Sales Team was supposed to build customer confidence and urgency. As more of the buying process continues to shift to online markets, you have a huge opportunity to build customer trust and uncover urgency through content. Smart companies use online content as an integral part of the sales process. The content serves as examples to help your clients better understand how you address common challenges they might be facing, too.
Top performing companies are making the shift. At Content Marketing World, in addition to the keynote session, I delivered a workshop with my good friend, Marcus Sheridan of TheSalesLion.com, about integrating sales and marketing. Two years ago, there were 16 people registered for our workshop. Last year, there were 40. This year, over 75 registered. Next year, several companies have threatened to bring their sales leadership (to a marketing conference).
Attract The Best Sales Opportunities
Is your current messaging rooted in YOUR perspective, or the customer’s perspective? Perhaps your messaging resonates well with your internal team, but not as vividly as you’d like with the customer.
Marketing departments spend hours crafting just the right phrasing to capture a complicated concept in one or two words. Your sales and customer service teams are regularly in front of customers, and they too are well-served to craft their language carefully. They receive multiple questions per day. Ask them for the questions they hear most often.
Make sure you capture the exact words your customers use. Don’t turn it into “marketing speak.” Keep it raw.
Your salespeople not only receive those questions but answer them. If you pay attention to the questions and answers, you’ll have the information you need to create valuable content that attracts your ideal customers.
Great content helps to not only attract the right customers, but to serve as a valuable tool for maintaining a conversation and building confidence and trust with your potential clients.
This means that instead of saying, “Hey, just checking in to see if you’ve made a decision yet…” you can send a note that says, “When we met, you asked a great question about driving traffic to your website. I’ve included a link to an article that might be helpful. Once you’ve had a chance to review the article, I’d be happy to answer any questions.”
The key, however, is to ensure that your sales organization is feeding relevant topics to marketing, and then using that content as part of a follow-up strategy with clients. In a recent podcast episode on Grow My Revenue, I share how to properly follow up using content you’ve created for your clients.
If you decide to continue keeping sales and marketing separate entities, then know that you are not keeping pace with trends in buyer behavior. If you refuse to change, just be sure to order plenty of cardboard signs, markers and tin cups – you’ll be doing plenty of begging for business.
It’s Your Turn
Where have you gained confidence because the seller shared great content? Share your experiences in the comments or via Twitter or LinkedIn.
Ian Altman is the bestselling author of Same Side Selling and Host of the Grow My Revenue Business Cast.
Catch up on my current posts along with industry articles