So now you’ve read my companion article on the importance of marketing, and you found it revelatory. Or you thought it wasn’t complete garbage – I’m fine with either. The point is, you now appreciate the need to market your company/idea/self more aggressively than you have in the past, and you’re ready to get started.
There’s just one tiny problem – you, like me and well over 70% of the small businesses on the planet, don’t actually have a marketing department.
Which means now you’re probably mad at me. “You’re saying that marketing is more important than ever, but I can’t afford to hire a dedicated marketing person. So what exactly do you want me to do, just give up on every other part of my business to focus on marketing? I guess I just won’t ever sleep ever again – thanks a lot, Jeff!”
Well first off, I don’t appreciate that kind of attitude. Second off, stop panicking. Have I ever written anything that ended with, “And so yeah, you’re basically screwed.” No I haven’t, and I’m not going to start now. I’m not National Geographic. (Side note: I love National Geographic, but waaay too many of their articles can be summarized in the following two sentences – “This beautiful thing is about to be destroyed and/or go extinct. Please enjoy these pretty pictures before all of these things are dead.”)
Anyway, it’s true that our increased need to market ourselves and our companies is an additional and often unwelcome burden on the solo entrepreneur or small business owner. But that doesn’t mean it has to be impossible or even all that difficult. So if you’re struggling to figure out how to market effectively with limited resources, this should get you started.
Decide How Much Business You Actually Need
Almost nobody really asks themselves this question. If pressed, most of us would just smile and say “more,” but that’s not a real answer. In order to know how to market, you need to know what your goal is. Do you want to franchise your restaurant or keep it small? Do you want to take your start-up to unicorn status, or would you be happy netting yourself $75,000 a year? How you answer this question will play a big role in how you choose to market yourself.
Determine Your Top Differentiators
Another way to say this is, how do you want to compete? For many businesses, the only differentiator they pay any attention to is price – “We can get it cheaper!” – and if that’s your main marketing message, then you’re going to be focusing almost exclusively on high-traffic marketing. However, if you want to compete on quality or service or attention to detail or luxury, then you’ll target your marketing efforts differently.
Decide What You Want Your Marketing To Accomplish
If you know how many customers you actually want to get, and if you know how you want to compete, then this should be an easy question to answer. If you’re competing on price and want to become a billionaire, then you’re going to have sell a lot of stuff, which means you’re marketing should reach as many people as possible. If you’re competing on luxury and you only need 1,000 customers to reach your goal, then you should put together a more specific marketing platform designed to reach only the people you really care about finding.
Create Different Marketing Strategies For Each Of Your Marketing Purposes
Different marketing efforts have different functions. If you’re trying to raise awareness for a cause or showcase your new product to the entire world, then you’ll want a marketing approach that is frequent, broadly targeted, and light on details. If you’re looking to catch the attention of a specific demographic, you’ll need to figure out where they spend their time and market to them where they already are. The ads I see in the Delta Sky magazine when I’m flying are a lot different than the ones I see in People or Fast Company. Yes, this may require you to have multiple marketing strategies, but that makes sense if you’re trying to accomplish multiple things.
If your goal is to be as big as possible as fast as possible, then I don’t have a lot of happy stuff for you – your marketing efforts will be exhaustive and never-ending. But in most cases, an intelligent approach to marketing can get you the results you’re looking for without consuming an overwhelming amount of your time. Besides, marketing people usually play video games or cornhole while they’re batting around ideas. There are worse ways to spend your time.