Are you doing enough to market your own business and your personal brand? As a marketing agency specialising in marketing other people’s companies, it has always been important to me to demonstrate that we ‘eat our own cooking’ and show how our own expertise can help ourselves. I’ve always thought it important to show how our own skill works for us. How can I claim to do your marketing or PR well, if I’m not doing a good job of marketing my own brand?
I appreciate you may not be marketing specialists, but I do passionately believe that you can’t expect to attract new customers or create product or service differentiation if your business isn’t ‘eating its own cooking’ and walking the talk. Building your own brand is one of the most important things a company can do. It doesn’t matter how big or small you are, your existing, and potential, clients need to be reminded of who you are, what you do and how great you are at it. Heaven forbid, if it’s been more than six months since your business held its own function or formal communication with your customers, then you need to reassess your strategy.
If marketing is not your business’ strong point, don’t be deterred. There are plenty of contractors, agencies and specialists who can help you. On the other hand, marketing is not rocket science. It is about establishing a toolkit of resources that will raise the awareness of your brand and reassure your prospects that you are a credible supplier with a relevant proposition.
So where do you start? If you are a natural marketeer, marketing your business may be second nature. But if it doesn’t come naturally here are a few tips on where to start.
Tell people what you do in 60 seconds
Time is money. Imagine walking into an elevator with one of your prospects; you should be able to describe your business in a nutshell in the time it takes to get to the next floor. We call this your elevator pitch and it’s worth getting it right and testing it on friends and family!
Also, get your messaging clear from the start. What is it important for prospects to know about you first? Can you articulate what you do and why you are better at it? What are the three values core to your business? The answers to these questions should then be integrated into every marketing initiative you conduct.
Clean and grow your database
Your database is arguably the most valuable thing your business owns and so should be in prime working order. Do you have people’s business cards sitting in a drawer somewhere? Pull them out and add them to your database, segmenting contacts into prospects, customers, suppliers, influencers, etc. The end goal is to be able to email your database easily and quickly.
You should also be contacting your database regularly, keeping them informed of any business developments. Events are the perfect excuse to keep in contact, and having a database will help you send out invites and track RSVPs.
Make your brand stand out
Good branding is key to increasing market awareness and should encompass your core values or the essence of who you are. One of the most effective branding tools is your logo. What does it look like now? Is it memorable or exciting? Is it a good reflection of your business?
Making your brand stand out is important, but even more essential is keeping your message consistent. Imagine it as part of a family of design. A wonderful website, a beautiful brochure or a well-organised event are counter-productive if they are mismatched or each send conflicting messages. Make sure your brand qualities or your brand essence is evident across all your marketing strategies.
Communicate to your online audience
Digital is the future whether we like it or not, so get ready for the ride. Your website is crucial. Make sure it is not only informative, but make it ‘sticky’ by offering visitors educational materials and value adds.
Websites are only one of many ways your company can communicate to your expanding online audience. Type your company name into any online search engine and see what comes up. Does your company even list in the top ten? If not, you should consider completing some search engine optimisation (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) to ensure you’re at the top of the search list.
Good marketing is not only about outward-facing initiatives, but also about making sure you’re all on the same page internally. Think about it this way, how can you get the boat moving if you are all rowing in different directions? Update your team regularly on your marketing initiatives and even better; get their regular feedback and ideas.
Have a regular, positive presence
When was the last time your business was in the press and was it in the publications your prospects are likely to be reading?
It is worthwhile to think about positioning your company as a thought leader within the industry. Keep your finger on the pulse of industry issues as they arise and don’t be afraid to contribute by commenting in online resources such as blogs, or local papers to get your opinion heard.
Get others to shout your story
One of the best ways to bring a prospect over the line is to have someone else speak for you. Don’t be afraid to ask your customers for a case study or testimonial. This way you can cement your offering with definitive, positive proof for all the times you’ve successfully done it before!
DIY or outsource?
If you have a flair for marketing, promoting your business will be no chore. If it takes too much time and takes you away from your core competency, get someone to help you. There are plenty of marketing companies or contractors, who will specialise in your type of business.
Marketing is not necessarily about complicated strategies or time-consuming tasks but rather smartly building on what you already have and being aware of the things to watch. If you lay a solid, measurable foundation, track back to business objectives and keep it simple, there is no reason why you shouldn’t raise your business’ profile and scoot ahead of the game.
-Sharon Williams is managing director of Taurus Marketing (www.taurusmarketing.com.au). You can watch her on Kochie’s Business Builders on Sunday mornings on Channel 7.
Ingredients for eating your own cooking
A checklist on the tools of marketing to consider
- Start with planning and create your business and marketing plan. You can’t hit the bullseye if you can’t see it
- Market research
- Direct marketing
- Case studies and testimonials
- Expos and seminars
- Events for your customers and prospects
- Sales promotion
- PR profile
- Database management
- Christmas, New Year, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Australia Day, or any major wins for your company all are good excuses to reconnect with your clients
- Look at your competition. What are they doing/not doing?
- Customer service
- Website strategy