The marketing industry has gone through a time of change. People are wanting to connect to a brand and make informed choices. Research on your small business and product is often done before contact is ever made with you.
This is not, however, the image that generally comes to mind when many people hear the word marketing. So let’s consider a brief history into the industry and how things have changed.
HISTORY OF MARKETING
With changes in the industry being relatively recent, it is understandable that the image that comes to people’s minds is the traditional marketing. We all know the type, with huge advertising campaigns that are highly polished and very expensive with one aim, to get the customer to buy that product or service. There was no need to understand who the business is or much about the product, you were simply told you needed it.
Over time our habits have changed. Today we have access to increased internet speeds and smartphone technology meaning information is readily available.
ACCESS TO INFORMATION
It is access to information that changed the marketing industry and how as customers, we respond to both marketing campaigns and businesses, even how we shop.
The information we now have access to means we can get access to news 24/7 and hear of privacy breaches made by trusted sources, the actions of bigger businesses, business news is readily available with better access to information regarding businesses and their actions. This information actually created a lack of trust in big businesses, with some major errors by trusted sources still fresh in people’s minds, therefore still impacting now. This information, interestingly, has generated more interest in small and micro businesses. Access to information, also, has its benefits, meaning customers can research both small businesses simply by pulling out their phone. They can get to know who a small business is, what they stand for, what their products and services include, even the customer service they provide, all at the press of a button.
CUSTOMERS RESEARCHING BUSINESS
With all of this information customer habits have changed and so has response to marketing. No longer is being told you need a product or service enough, although direct marketing strategies still play a role, just not as heavily focused. Instead, people need to understand the brand, which is who your small business is and what you are selling. Think of your own habits, are you inclined to pull out your phone and research a business or simply walk in? What is the deciding factor for you?
IMPORTANCE OF MARKETING
Instead of being daunted by the concept of marketing, it is important to understand the role it plays. Marketing is the tool that lets people know about your small business. Without it, how will people know about the amazing product or service you are selling? It creates the opportunity for people to not only know who your business is and what you sell but creates leads. This is important to small business success and expansion.
Sounds simple enough, but where do you start?
WHERE DOES SMALL BUSINESS START WHEN MARKETING?
It is easy when starting your marketing journey to wonder where do you start?
In it simplest form, marketing is an extension of customer service. Strange concept, I know. When you take into account it is not only the first point of contact, but often the deciding factor, it is easy to see it as part of customer service.
Providing the highest level of customer service is important to any business, at any stage of a transaction. Marketing is the first stage, informing customers of your business and products.
Brand awareness simply means educating people so they feel a connection to your small business or micro business and product or service. It is this connection that will not only generate initial interest, but keep people coming back. Brand awareness is about getting people to think of your business when they need something of the industry you are in, making your business the first that comes to mind. The way to do that is to create a community around your brand, allow people to feel connected and engage with them. This makes up at least 70% of your marketing campaign with only approximately 10% being direct marketing, so it is extremely important.
The way to create brand awareness is simply to tell a story over the course of your marketing campaign. The story you tell depends on what it is you want the customers to know. Every small business has a story, from its origins, the passion driving the business, industry updates, the products and services themselves even have a story.
Consider why you chose this particular small business when the idea of creating a small business first came to mind? What was it that drove you and you were passionate enough about, that made you start up your small business? This passion is important to get across to customers, because it is with this passion that means you will readily answer questions, provide information, stay up to date in the industry, and generally want to talk about what you do. This is all valuable information and will help a great deal in creating an engaging community, because people will want to talk more with you about what you do. Added to this, it provides that valuable information of who your business is.
PROVIDING INFORMATION ON YOUR INDUSTRY
Every industry goes through changes and updates. It is understanding the industry you are in, that you can convey to the customer. This can be done in three stages: history, current trends and future trends.
Often the history of an industry helps to relay the passion you have and goes a long way to show the depth of knowledge you can provide into the industry. You may have people that will remember the way certain things were done, or older products that were popular and wonder why they have been updated. Being able to relay the history of an industry can play an important role in engaging with customers too, think the common phrase, “Remember when…”.
Current trends, show that you are providing the latest products available but also the direction the industry you are currently in is taking. This is valuable information, and in an age where people are searching for more information than ever before, is important in relaying to the customer. This is part of what they are looking for!
Understanding future trends means you are ahead of the game and by educating this to your customers you can help them stay one step ahead as well. It, also, shows the depth of knowledge you have of the industry, and that you are simply concentrating on right now.
Together the history, current and future trends helps to educate customers about the industry and why it is travelling in the direction it is, and what they need to look out for in future. It shows that you are reputable, care about your customers and are a trusted source of information.
PRODUCTS / SERVICES
You have carefully selected each product or service for your small business. These products are considered to make sure it fits in with your business and that it provides the quality you are looking for. This means that you have researched each product and understand them thoroughly.Customers are searching for this valuable information and the more provide the more trust is built. It is this trust that generates leads. It is providing this information that allows customers to see your business and understand each product. This will attract them to buy from you.
It can be informative to show an understanding of the product development process from its history through to future trends, this helps customers make an informed choice about what will work for them now and into the future.
These stories are used to educate customers. Any form of marketing from digital to tv to pamphlets and those in the middle, rely on providing this information to customers to allow them to feel connected to your business and brand. In most cases, the information in the bigger story is broken down into informative pieces to generate interest and create engagement. Each piece is designed to stand independently and yet connect to the bigger story. This means that with each piece of information people will learn some valuable information. As part of the bigger story, it is generating interest in how all the pieces come together to show a greater depth of who your business is, and gain trust so people will use your services.
CURRENT MARKETING TRENDS
Today’s marketing environment does not provide instant results, however the long term results provide a more stable customer base because it is based on trust. Once a customer trusts a brand they are more inclined to keep using that brand, therefore generating repeat business and referring you onto others.
Marketing today requires showing that your small business is transparent and honest, this is what builds the trust. By telling your story you are showing these and generating interest in your business. The added bonus of this strategy is that it builds a community around your small business.
For more information, or assistance to tell your story, contact us today