At BoostSuite, it’s no secret that we love small businesses, and we love online marketing. Putting these two items together can sometimes be a bit intimidating. That’s why we created BoostSuite specifically for Small Business Marketers.
What is a Small Business Marketer?
In reality whether you’re the owner of a small business, a marketing manager, a consultant, or an intern, if you’re doing marketing for a small business you’re a Small Business Marketer. 99.9% of the time Small Business Marketers aren’t formally trained marketing experts, and that’s ok.
You do not need to have a degree from Harvard Business School to effectively market your business online. But you do need to have these five traits in order to be great at what you do.
1. Knowledgable About Your Business
This fact is true for all marketers, but for Small Business Marketers, it’s even more important. If you do not understand your business and how you benefit your customers, you’ve already lost. You need to have a clear mission, value proposition, and key competitive advantages that you can leverage when speaking to your prospective customers. This will build trust which leads to referrals and fruitful, long-term relationships.
You should also stay up-to-date on what’s going on in your industry. What new technologies are people using? Are there new tools that will help you provide better products/services? What are you competitors up to? Are there new strategies that you should be implementing into your marketing plan? Also, you need to know your customers. Gather feedback as often as you can using focus groups, online surveys, and contact forms. Learn from this feedback and adapt (more on that in #4).
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2. Ability to Write Valuable Content
Small Business Marketers need to be able to write and publish content that provides value to your readers. What does valuable content consist of? This means that the content is relatable, relevant to the audience, and there are key takeaways that the reader finishes the article with.
They key to valuable content is when you’re brainstorming about what to write, think to yourself, “what will my audience gain by reading this article?” If there’s no clear takeaway, take few more minutes to think about how you can change your messaging to make it valuable to the reader.
For example, if I was an owner of a boutique wine shop, I would write an article about a brand new wine variation that I’m offering in my store. I would describe the new wine, where it’s from, how it tastes, what food pairings I suggest, etc. It’s this type of content that can be shared with other folks who love wine and want to try something new and different. The content is valuable because I offer some knowledge and expertise regarding the subject matter that other wine aficionados gel with and wine novices are seeking. The more people who share my content, the more inbound links I create and the more authority my site builds in the search engines’ eyes.
3. “No Fear” Attitude Regarding the Internet
All too often, we hear from Small Business Marketers that you’re “scared” or “intimidated” by online marketing. With all of the tools and information available, it’s easy to see why you get so frightened. You do not know where to start and therefore, procrastination often gets the best of you. If your terrified of the internet, and your competitors aren’t, then they are taking advantage of a huge opportunity while you twiddle your thumbs.
The key to not being scared of the internet is to dive in head first, start reading, and educate and DEDICATE yourself. Google things that you think your customers are searching for and see what content appears on the first page. Spend 30 minutes to an hour every day reading blogs from your competitors, partners, and other industry thought leaders. Make sure you follow them on your social media channels as well. You will often find inspiration for your next blog post doing this. You can comment on their blog posts, reference your own pages with links, and repurpose content to provide your unique insight. I find the best way to stay up to date is to use a tool like Feedly to aggregate all of the relevant content out there in one spot so you can save time perusing what really matters.
4. Willingness to Adapt and Learn
Small Business Marketers need the ability to change gears quickly. There are new trends and techniques that are coming out on a daily basis. If you cannot adapt and learn about how to use these things, you can easily get left behind. The great thing about being a small business is you can adapt without completely alienating your customers (see New Coke or Crystal Pepsi). Change is a good thing with small businesses, so don’t be afraid of it, embrace it.
Some things Small Business Marketers can do to adapt and learn besides reading content online are 1) attend relevant industry conferences and trade shows to see what the hottest new items in the market are 2) visit with your customers to find out what you can do to delight them even more, and 3) take the lead from other small businesses you love. If they are doing something to keep you happy as a customer, think about how you can do the same for your customers. Are they providing promotions, sales, deals, loyalty rewards programs, personalization? Integrate what you love about other small businesses into your own strategy.
5. Praise Success and Acknowledge Failure
Lets face it. Some small business marketing ideas will work marvelously while other will crash and burn. And that’s ok! Without failure, how would you ever learn from your mistakes and make things right? If you do have something good to report, by all means, do it! Your customers want to hear about your successes. Make sure to highlight case studies of how you successfully helped them out and display those awesome testimonials for all to see!
All effective Small Business Marketers have failed at least once in their careers (don’t let them tell you otherwise). No marketer ever likes to admit defeat, but this is a necessary attribute if you expect to grow your business and be successful. You do not have to announce your shortcomings to the public, but you need to be transparent with your staff so they know exactly what’s going on internally. Everyone needs to be working towards the same end goal and if they are kept in the dark, then don’t expect them to be forthright with you. You need everyone’s feedback from the top to the bottom of your organization to make sure you put your marketing strategy on the path to success.
How to Become A Great Small Business Marketer
Learn more about your business and industry as a whole. Study all the customers you serve. LISTEN. Document ideas and create a roadmap. Develop a content schedule. Write valuable content that your readers will come back to your website to read every week and share with their friends and family via social media. Don’t be scared of the internet. It’s a big place yet everyone has their own niche that they can burrow into. It won’t bite and you’ll probably end up making some good friends along the way. Adapt and learn from customer feedback. It makes the all the difference. Finally, be happy when you do things right and admit when they go wrong. Don’t be unfair and unrealistic. Set goals that are attainable. Take baby steps. Display passion and compassion. Work hard. Play harder.