SMB Marketing for Success – Part One

If you are reading this you are interested in gaining more insight on how to effectively market your business. It is a topic that is near and dear to me. SMB marketing is the most challenging, fun, and gratifying for me. Without it, businesses cannot succeed and our economy would falter. I prefer to think of myself as a solutions expert since what I do is develop creative solutions for challenging marketing circumstances. Those challenges are defined in a variety of ways – market pressures, media saturation, fractured audience engagement, etc. The list is literally endless. This is the first of a 4 part blog exploring these and other impactors to a successful marketing campaign.

What Does a Successful Marketing Campaign Look Like?

The answer is it depends. Every business should approach their marketing and advertising uniquely. The number of products and services available are seemingly endless, but investment amount aside, what is a good fit for one business is not necessarily for another. This is why I like what I call the “tear it down and build it up” approach. In developing a business plan, several things are determined. For example, who is your target market? What is your pricing model? What are your short term and long term sales goals…. and so on. Taking the business plan a step further, let’s tear it down and build it up shall we? It starts and ends by understanding who your buyer is and how, when, why, and where they buy. Heck, let’s throw in the what too for good measure.

Understanding who your consumers or buyers are is the backbone to your marketing campaign, and frankly the success of your business. This is an area that goes beyond metrics, demographics, or whatever sets of data you can reference. You do need this information, but only as a starting point. That’s the science of it. The art of marketing kicks in when you tie buying/shopping behavior to the data. So how does one do THAT? Enter Challenge #1.

Be Observant

One of the things I do is pay attention to other advertising. For example, when I watch television programs, I ask myself who they are targeting in the ad, how long does the ad run (Months, years?). Typically large companies are held accountable to a board of directors. family-livingkids-media-safetytelevisionIf an ad campaign doesn’t work well and therefore doesn’t return a desired ROI, it’ll get pulled – like a tv show canceled after one season. And the converse is also true. The longer the ad runs the more successful it must have been in targeting their market. You see, specific ads can be placed on networks or particular programming which can target a demographic that matches the demographic they felt matched the buyer profile for their product or services. If you watch certain networks, time slots or programs, you’ll get a real feel for who they are targeting – Age, gender, social interests, etc. (Think sporting events). Using this information, I am able to get ideas about what can work for my clients. The internet calls this behavioral targeting, or re-targeting, a topic for another post, but it has been a part of traditional advertising for some time. Long before the internet existed.

Marketing research is key to the success of any large company like Coca Cola for example. They do quite a bit of market research to back up the direction of an ad campaign, which is why I trust the instincts of companies like them most often. But not always. Does anyone remember New Coke? Marketing research led stakeholders within Coca Cola to trust the data and not instinct. It almost led to a revolt and damage control took quite a while before they righted the ship. So trust the data, but hone your instincts. Emotion is the driving force behind marketing.

Draw Connections

About twenty years ago, the Ford Motor Company started a campaign marketing to young people when leasing first was in vogue and payments were very affordable. Most of their car’s price points were intentionally positioned below the market average, but had options that held value in the bank’s eyes such as power locks, windows, sunroofs, cd players to name a few. All were keys to low payments since Ford carthe resale value of a car with more options was greater than those that did not have them, and a car with a higher resale value helped the leasing payments stay low. Whether it was intentional or unintentional, they carved a niche out by defining a group of buyers no other auto maker had done prior. They were the first to add the 1/8″ plug for your ipod to play music. Then the first with the usb port. Today it is hard to imagine a car without one. Moral of the story? For young people, a car has always been a right of passage – a sense of freedom, but the real hook for Ford was to include ways for young people to interface their technology with their cars. Young people, cars, technology, and at an affordable price. Ford cars became cool among young people again.

Watch How People Shop

Think for a minute of all the buying experiences you have had, and the ones you were a witness to. Father and son at the ball game concession stand, and the son wants candy,
popcorn, soda and a baseball cap. Dad says you can have one item and the caconcessionsp. What were his motives? Money? Fear of spoiling his son? Not giving his son too much sugar? More likely it is all of those things. We’ve all been in a position where we ask ourselves is it worth it. There are spontaneous people, frugal people, conservative people, liberal people, and on and on, but how do you market to everyone to maximize sales if there are so many different factors?

Consider this, why is one restaurant busier than similar ones nearby? Is their service the best around? Maybe. Is it because of its cleanliness? Possibly. Quality of food? More than likely. What about Price? I’m sure that is also a part of it, but it is most likely what I call a cost-value relationship. People buy for a variety of reasons, but when it comes down to it, there is always a common thread that applies to most people; the cost-value relationship. People will not spend more if the quality of the product or service is not worth it to them. However, they will spend more than they want if they feel they will get quality products and/or services. Everyone reasons that when shopping, whether it is grocery shopping or furniture shtracking-direct-mail-sales-2opping. Sounds like the same ROI conversation we have with ourselves as business owners doesn’t it?

Why is the Apple store so busy? Doesn’t matter where you are in the country. It’s busy. Who are the people in the store? Young people? Kids and parents? Baby boomers? Apple products are known to be a bit more expensive than its Microsoft or Samsung counterparts, so what should that tell us? There is a common thread among everyone there. In their minds they believe the ROI is still good despite having to spend more than a competitors product.

You now have a better idea of who you want to target and how they will engage with your business, but what form of marketing will reach them? Enter challenge #2. I will dive into that one in my next post – Part two of 4.

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