I’ve spent the majority of my career working in marketing and public relations and over the years I’ve garnered pages and pages of marketing tips that I love to share with entrepreneurs to get a chance.
Marketing is so incredibly important when it comes to running your business and there are a lot of voices out there that it can be easy to get caught up in the literature and forget the practice.
With that in mind, I thought I’d share my favourite seven marketing tips that are relevant to any entrepreneur, regardless of what service you provide or product you sell.
Never forget your brand
Brand is not just a buzzword that marketers use to sound fancy and professional — your brand is your business. Beyond giving you guidance when it comes to planning a marketing strategy or developing content, your brand serves to help you connect better with your customers or clients.
A brand helps prepare customers for what to expect. It gives them something beyond a singular product or service to bond with. It gives them something to be passionate about and grow with.
If Apple simply sold an iPhone, no brand behind it, customers wouldn’t be as dedicated to them — but Apple sells more than pieces of technology, they sell a lifestyle. And it’s a lifestyle people want. They’re passionate about it, they grow with it and they’re willing to stick with less-appealing products (I’m looking at you Apple Watch) because they believe in the company.
Likewise, anyone can offer legal services or marketing consulting, but certain service providers manage to give them a little extra which helps to build loyalty and trust.
Your brand matters. If you want a stronger customer or client base, perhaps you need to start looking at your brand.
Don’t be boring
Being boring is especially threatening to your organization or product in today’s world with social media and higher expectations. It’s 2019, boring won’t get you anywhere.
Not being boring doesn’t mean you have to be edgy — being edgy doesn’t work with everyone’s brand. And if it doesn’t fit, you shouldn’t be doing it.
What it does mean though is that you need to have personality. Not fictional personality, not something you give just because — but real, honest personality. Whatever fits with what you’re trying to put out there.
Know what you offer
There is nothing worse than not being able to offer something. Sure, you might sell exercise equipment or accounting services, but what do you actually offer? That’s what counts in the long run.
Knowing what you offer means knowing what problem you solve for your client or customer. Every product or service solves a problem. Every single one.
A film or book, for example, solves the problems of boredom and curiosity. It fulfills our need for storytelling. Your smartphone solves the problems of connectivity and accessibility, among other things.
Sometimes the “problem” you solve is more abstract, but it still exists. It’s your job to know it. If you don’t know it, you’ll never be able to sell it. Not on a long-term, sustainable basis anyway.
Consistency is the issue that I find most budding entrepreneurs have, and honestly, it takes a bit to actually establish it.
There are a lot of things I’m inconsistent with that I’m determined to get better at. Consistency is something you can always be better at.
Consistency can come in many forms, things like being consistent in answering emails (something I can be less-great at) or posting on your blog (the one people most often cite), to provide a continuous expected level of service or even the language you use in your copy.
When it comes to consistency, there is always room for improvement. So above all, be consistent about growing your level of consistency.
Make decisions easier
This marketing tip comes from a recent client conversation. I will often read over client emails, specifically in the area of sales, when they’re unsure that the message they’re trying to get across with clear.
One of my clients was informing their clients that they were raising the price of their services and the email they had prepared ended with:
We are raising monthly fees from $X to $X because of [enter list of reasons here].
Let me know how I can proceed…
When it comes to sales, be direct. Make decisions for your clients. Essentially, make your client’s decisions easier.
When it comes to making changes, drop the comparisons. Saying “from $250 to $450” gives your clients a chance to scrutinize the price of your service or product, this is something you don’t want to do. Scrutinization leads to longer decision-making, which helps no one.
This is all to say that when it comes to raising prices instead of “from $250 to $450” go with:
We are raising monthly fees to $450.
And when it comes to soliciting a yes or no response, provide a close-ended question. Instead of saying “Let me know how I can proceed…” go with:
Please confirm you would like to…
Make decisions easier to come to on your client’s behalf.
Don’t treat marketing as an afterthought
I think people understand the importance of marketing but rarely do I find that budgets reflect that.
While an exceptional product or service is the pinnacle of your operations — because who’s going to go with something inferior — you’ll never have clients or customers if you don’t go out and find them. This is, obviously, where marketing comes in.
Marketing doesn’t have to be overly gaudy or cost all of your pretty pennies — especially if you’re a start-up entrepreneur — but it does have to be an important component of your practice.
Put some thought into it, really plan it and treat it like it matters. Because it does.
Forget about the Joneses
Don’t be afraid to be bold, do something different and carve your own path.
Most of the time I find that organizations and entrepreneurs do their marketing based on what they see everyone else is doing, not by deciding what’s best for your business.
I remember this one story from my earlier marketing days where the firm we were working for was so consumed by falling in line with all their competitors that they begged us to put on a similar event to one that another firm was putting on — it was an event idea that they had stolen from us the year before…
We often do a marketing tactic because we see someone else do that same thing and it looks like it’s working. We think, hey it works for them so why not us, and move forward with it without taking into consideration if it will actually work for us.
Do your own marketing. And do it well. Focus less on what everyone else is doing.
Marketing matters and doing it well can be the difference between thriving and simply surviving. No one becomes a marketing genius overnight, but you can start today by focusing on one thing and grow from there.
What is your favourite marketing tip? Throw it in the comments below!