As a small business owner, it’s natural to bank on steadfast clients. But steadfast shouldn’t mean stagnant. It’s safe to say a time will come when you’re ready to grow your business. So what then? For starters, you’ll need to up your marketing game.
Marketing can be a little tricky — we understand. Where do you start?
Where should you spend your time, efforts and money?
While these are indeed questions to wrestle with, a good starting point is to figure out what’s authentic for you. Don’t try to fit a square peg into a round hole. The marketing channels that will suit your business best are those that are a natural fit.
We chatted with experts at Inbound and Pubcon – two prominent digital marketing conferences – and uncovered a few of trends and insights for marketing in 2018. Their message was simple: It’s all about staying as authentic as possible and making real, human connections.
A common thread we couldn’t ignore was this: Always start with the customer. It’s too easy to naval gaze and forget that we’re actually marketing to others — not just to ourselves, or for the sake of our brand.
Make those meaningful connections with your customers. And reach them in the places they want to be found. Which platforms are grabbing their attention most? Where, for the most part, do they reside online?
Speaker: Phil Leighy of Retail Global at Pubcon
Key takeaway: “It’s all about the customers — how you can connect with your customer, and just do things better. [Always] give away before you ask to sell to them.”
We all want to make a lasting impression with our marketing efforts. That’s understandable. But if this impression is over-packaged, over-processed, and over-wrought — we’ve missed the point. Just keep it real. There’s still room for creativity and cleverness in that space.
Think about your target customer. Remember they’re people, too! So, engage with them as people. Real, human conversations will get you a lot farther than put-on, robotic directives. You’re not the large conglomerate peering down from a tower, after all. You have the advantage of relating more closely with your customer. So, use that.
Speaker: Ashely Johnson of Mouth Marketing at Pubcon
Key takeaway: “I think it’s about brand authenticity. I’ve been working with our clients on opening them up, getting them out of their shell. We’re all human. That’s where things are going — brands are becoming more human.”
Speaker: Amanda Braun of Plenty Consulting at Inbound
Key takeaway: “I think having a really personal connection with people [is important.] We live in such a digital world, [so] making that content feel more personable, and more like a conversation than a pitch, is going to be pretty huge.”
“Talking shop” to customers can be alienating. Keep in mind that the people you’re selling your service to aren’t fellow mavens. There’s no need to be overly official or technical. Speak authentically. Talk their talk. This way, your communication will be far more effective. In other words, be:
Speaker: Jennifer Mulholland of Plenty Consulting at Inbound
Key takeaway: “[I think it’s] congruency: really being what we’re saying. Not using buzz words to help create more movements. [It’s] that authenticity of brand. We need to make sure we’re really seeing, feeling and being what we want our customers to experience us as.”
There’s no denying that marketing can get complicated at times. But as you grow your small business, embrace this learning curve. The success of your business depends on it.
Focus on having the right voice, in the right channels, for the right purpose. If you stay on track with what you hope to achieve, your business will be all the better for it.
In the process, remember what makes your business both human and unique (…you!) Remain authentic, stay relatable and you’ll keep winning over customers in the long run.