by Jen McKenzie
Small business owners really do have to do it all. From brainstorming new products or services to handling customer service gone wrong, an owner is involved in every step of the process.
However, for many companies, marketing is often ignored. After all, marketing comes off as a bit disingenuous, with images of hair-slicked snake-oil salesmen or fast-talking charmers taking their customers for granted.
This does not have to be the case. Marketing is a necessity nowadays as it enables you to talk about why your business exists and the services that you provide to your clients. To do this, the first step is adopting a marketing-positive mindset.
Everyone is a Marketer
Many small business owners feel that they offer exactly what their customers need. Ask them to talk about it from a marketing perspective, however, and suddenly they become quite timid. This should not be the case. Instead, take the perspective of a skilled marketer.
Entrepreneurs who are good at marketing do not care just about sales pitches or glossy brochures, but rather are focused on the unique value propositions of whatever it is that they are selling. In short, they know that their goods or services have value for their customers, and it is simply their job to introduce to potential buyers just how good of a deal that it is.
Customers Come First
When it comes to great marketing, the emphasis is on demonstrating value to the customer, and not just going on about how great a product is.A great way to do this is to be sure to know the needs of a client and then demonstrate that the product meets each of them. This also has the advantage of making any conversation feel more like a problem-solving exercise and less like a sales pitch.
One of the best anecdotes about this being done comes from TV personality Mike Rowe. In an essay hosted on his Facebook page, he details how he put the mindset of the customer first during a job interview in which he was asked to sell a pencil. In this example, Mike Rowe creates an ideal customer and describes why the pencil would be useful to them. He knows the value of the good, but just as importantly, he understands to whom he is selling.
Being able to segment a market is a vital skill. Simply put, no good or service has a market that is “everyone.” With market segmentation, it becomes much easier to have conversations with potential clients because more is known about their wants and needs.
Crucial to being able to do this right is also to have a marketing plan that explains how a good or service will be introduced to the market, and information about those potential markets.
You Can Learn Marketing
Learning marketing is not as complicated as you might think. The best marketers are always looking to learn from their existing and potential customers, and they are also looking for ways to expand their own mastery of new marketing techniques.
For example, a decade ago, social media was thought of as a novelty. Today, few marketers would ignore the power of social media to communicate with the market, while many base considerable chunks of their entire marketing plan on platforms like Facebook or Twitter.
Crucial to this is being able to find the right marketing experts to learn from. It is not enough to simply look at theories, but instead focus on real results.
Marketing does not have to be scary or sleazy. Instead, the practice comes down to identifying the potential clients for a product or service, engaging them, listening to them, and providing them with real value.
Everything else, from polished pitches to glossy brochures, should focus solely on that value-added proposition. Good marketing can be mastered given the adoption of a mindset that marketing is necessary and perhaps even enjoyable.
How have you bootstrapped marketing in your bootstrapped small business? What tricks can you offer? Tell us below!
Here are some more marketing and small business resources:
- Four ways to align your financial goals as a solopreneur
- How to start a business while still working full time
- Nine proven ways to start a business with your spouse
Image: PicJumbo, an open source photo site