When it comes to running a small business, promotion can be one of an entrepreneur’s biggest challenges. While 95 percent of small business owners do some of their own marketing, only 46 percent consider themselves marketing savvy, with 64 percent describing themselves as self-taught, a Constant Contact survey revealed. When asked to name their biggest business challenge, 64 percent of small business owners identified promotional resources as their main obstacle, an Incfile study found, underscoring the challenges marketing poses for entrepreneurs.
In order to overcome marketing challenges, it’s essential to have an effective promotional strategy. Here are four key things to consider when promoting your business.
Target marketing based on good market research is the foundation of an effective promotional campaign. Market research helps you identify what type of consumers or businesses are buying your product or service, so that you can focus on the right audience and you don’t waste your money advertising to people who aren’t buying what you’re selling. Market research also helps you identify what features and benefits most appeal to your prospective buyers. It further helps you identify where your target audience congregates online and offline so that you can reach them with your promotional campaigns.
The easiest way to do market research is to tap into existing resources. These include government databases such as U.S. Census Bureau data, commercial polls such as Gallup and Nielsen data, resources compiled by online platforms such as Google Marketer’s Almanac, and market research reports produced by companies such as Forrester. HubSpot provides a list of popular market research tools to help get you started. In addition, you can do market research by using analytics data from your website and social media accounts and by taking surveys of your website visitors and email list. This will give you more customized information specific to your customer base than public market research resources.
Branding is another key component of effective promotion. Your brand defines your company’s identity, determining how customers perceive you and feel about you. It also positions you in contrast to your competitors, so that potential buyers know why they should buy from you instead of a rival brand.
To begin building a brand identity, marketing director Chelsea Trautman recommends that you start by committing to authenticity, meaning that your actions in your business, on your website, and on your social media channels should be consistent with the brand identity you seek to define. Next, draw from your market research to identify what qualities your target audience is seeking in a brand and what might appeal to them.
After this, create a mission statement that expresses succinctly how your company aims to give your target audience what they want. Next, define the company values that support your mission statement, such as prioritizing customer service, for example. Finally, create a style guide that lays out how you will start communicating your brand identity through your interactions with your customers. For example, your style guide might specify how your logo is to be used on your online properties to communicate your brand.
Another important key to promotional success is selecting the right channels for your intended audience. The Edward Lowe Foundation provides a breakdown of the pros and cons of today’s major categories of promotional channels, including paid advertising, in-store and online sales promotions, public relations, direct marketing tactics such as direct mail and personal face-to-face selling. Channels that may reach one market may not necessarily reach another. For instance, a consumer audience might be easier to connect with on Facebook, while a business audience might be easier to connect with on LinkedIn. Selecting the right promotional channel mix ensures that your advertising budget isn’t going to channels where you aren’t going to reach your marketing base.
Most successful promotional campaigns use multiple channels. Amway has established a 60-year track record for successful face-to-face selling. However, the company has more recently expanded into digital channels, using an official blog, YouTube channel and a variety of social media profiles to reach new prospects.
After you’ve made contact with prospects through your promotional campaigns, the last step toward making a sale is delivering an effective sales presentation. Most new entrepreneurs feel intimidated by sales because they don’t know what to say. A key to overcoming this barrier is to have a prepared sales script. A sales script is based on mapping out the sales process, which begins by building trust and rapport, progresses through probing buyer needs and presenting product benefits, and proceeds through making a closing offer and answering buyer objections in order to make a sale. You can have sales scripts for each phase of this process, and for different possible situations that come up during each phase.
For purposes of making sales, your closing scripts and objection-handling scripts are most crucial for selling products. A closing script typically transitions from your presentation into the close, makes a closing offer, and asks for the sale. Objection-handling scripts deal with common objections to making a purchase, such as the price being too high, needing more time to think about making a decision, or needing to consult someone else before making a purchase. Sales author Mike Brooks provides sample closing and objection-handling scripts you can modify for customized use.
Target marketing helps ensure that your promotional efforts are aimed at the right audience, increasing your efficiency and avoiding wasted advertising dollars. Branding makes sure that your marketing theme appeals to your intended audience. Choosing the right promotional channels increases your odds of reaching qualified leads. Once you’ve reached a hot lead, your sales pitch closes the deal and turns a prospect into a customer. Basing your promotional strategy on these four pillars will set your marketing on a firm foundation, helping you reach more prospects, convert more leads, and make more sales.