Doing what everyone else does in the area of marketing will put you on the bottom of the pile. A lot of business owners look at their competitors’ web sites and then try to create a similar site. The problem is that most small business owners don’t understand the marketing process and they don’t have anyone on their staff that does. Consequently, copying a competitor’s site appears to be a good idea.
Starting and operating a small business entails a certain amount of risk; marketing the small business should also take on a “risk” factor. if your business is similar to other businesses that offer the same products or services ad your business does, then “differentiation” in marketing becomes a necessity.
Before I talk about “how to be different”, let me share another common mistake. A large number of business owners are also impressed by the marketing efforts that are directed toward them, either on a personal or business level. Just because a marketing approach appeals to you does not mean that your target market will find it appealing.
Yes, marketing is, in many cases, the survival or perish factor in a business. In today’s technology based marketing the goal is not to copy what everyone else is doing but to do something different.
The first step is always the same, identify your target market. You can’t be everything to everyone, everywhere. Identify your target market by the benefits that they need and that you offer, and also consider their location. Marketing is a multi-faceted process, and if you can identify a certain area where your target market is located, you can implement a wide variety of marketing techniques to brand yourself in that specific location.
The most common marketing tools I encounter with small business owners are:
- Personal contact
- A web site
- Social media
- Printed material (brochures, business cards, etc.)
- Limited newspaper and magazine advertising.
With the target market identified and a list of the benefits that you can offer, the next step is to do some “out of the box” planning. One suggestion is to approach a college or university and see if a design class and/or marketing class will take you on as a project. Educate them on the product/services you offer and the benefits they provide to your target market, list your marketing tools and step aside. The quality of the results is worth much more than the time and dollars (if any) that you have invested. Work with your coach to come up with other ways of differentiating yourself from your competitors.
Dare to be different……………