Other than mastering the complexities and tricks of the trade of your own trade or profession, there are several key business skills you need to master to get on in business. One of the most important is marketing.
Marketing is certainly not just advertising, as many business owners think, and it goes way beyond the dictionary definition. Everything you do in business (if you do it right) is a contribution towards marketing and your while business ethos and culture must be designed and orientated with marketing right at the forefront. It is not something that you can easily delegate, and no matter how busy you are, you must find sufficient time to invest in marketing activities for the sake of the future of your business.
So why, I hear you ask, is marketing so important? Well, for several reasons:
- It doesn’t matter how long established your business is or how many customers, clients or patients you have because customers die, move away, lose interest or just stop buying which mean that even to stand still you need a steady stream of replacements.
- If a business is not growing, at best it’s stagnant, at worst it’s probably going backwards or shrinking.
- We all have customers that we’d rather not have and often, it’s tricky to get rid of them. With focused marketing, you only have to take on new customers that are made of the right stuff. In addition, getting better new customers mean you can afford to get rid of the dross!
- Success attracts success, which means new customers, clients or patients and effective staff will be keen to come on board.
- If you’re good at marketing, you don’t have to be good at selling because you have already positioned yourself and your business in the minds of your
prospective customer as experts in your field, reliable and efficient. When your marketing works, there is no need to go into sales mode with prospective customers, they should be ready there and then to sign up.
- In addition, if you’re thinking about marketing it gets you in the right frame of mind so that it’s easier to remember what we’re here for. If you think about the lifetime value of a customer and other customers that the existing customer may refer to you, it’s much easier to go the extra mile even for a customer who can be frustrating to deal with.
Winston Marsh, a friend and the famous Aussie marketing guru (see http://www.winstonmarsh.com.au) says that to market effectively you need to come up with the answers to three key marketing questions:
- Why should a customer use you and not a competitor?
- Who is your ideal customer?
- How do they find you?
Working through these questions will not only potentially save you many thousands of pounds on advertising or marketing that doesn’t work, but in addition, will prevent you from trying to attract all-comers when you should be looking for more profitable or better customers. It will also ensure you are different from the competition, a vital strategy in a crowded marketplace. What will make you stand out from the crowd?
So, if marketing is not advertising, what is marketing? Effective marketing involves many activities, some ongoing background marketing e.g. website, social media, FAQ, testimonials or case studies and some specific marketing campaigns like simple referral strategies, networking, joint ventures or newsletters. Some will work, others will not, but bit by bit, if you put enough effort into it, your efforts will pay off.
Because daily business life is busy, it’s best to allocate set days or parts of the day for marketing activities, otherwise it’s all too easy to carry on working in the business focusing on current and more pressing short-term problems. However, because it takes a while to get in the marketing frame of mind, it’s a good idea to carry out at least one quick marketing activity daily. This, for example, could be sending out a handwritten thank you card to a referral source, or making a sales follow-up call to a customer who purchased recently.
Many marketing activities are free or very low-cost, so get out there and get going before you competitors do. If you need a hand with your marketing let us know, we’re good at marketing as well as accounts and tax.