5 Small Business Marketing Tips For Staying Focused During The COVID-19 Crisis
COVID-19’s effects have rocked our economy and businesses are grappling with many dilemmas. How can you keep your doors open, get your message out and continue selling without seeming to be too pushy or greedy? How should you be marketing your business?
Sure, there’s plenty of complicated information out there about marketing analytics, SEO research and content marketing. But things can get complicated quickly and it’s not easy to know where you should concentrate your efforts.
Your prospects and customers are overwhelmed now, too, and don’t have time to sort through complicated offers. They want a simple, easy to understand message that resonates clearly and succinctly. Clear messages and products that meet their needs will win every time.
But what’s the best way to do that when you’re not Coke or Nike? Consider this. Rather than panic, take a deep breath and use this difficult time to make positive changes in your marketing approach by revisiting some marketing fundamentals.
Here are a few things you can do right now to focus, simplify, and keep moving forward with your brand message — even through an economically uncertain time.
1. Know your brand values
What does your company stand for? What do you want people to know about your business? Effective branding reflects and projects the core values and key differentiators of your business.
A strong brand tells customers what it stands for and why they should purchase the product.
Is your product 100% organic? Is it rated number one by influencers? Is it known for its reuse capabilities? These are all marketable branding examples. If you’re especially proud that you manufacture products in the United States, say that. If your company is a long-established family business with strong community ties, let that ring out in your company’s branding.
The best branding for business gives people a reason to connect with your company on an emotional level. For example, a technology infrastructure company does so much more than sell cables and televisions. They sell peace of mind. The kind that a buyer receives when they have selected an expert who knows the appropriate pieces and parts to make technology work the way it should to produce the business results you’re counting on.
2. Develop buyer personas
As a brand, you’re speaking to human beings who share your ideals, and who want or need your product or service. If you don’t know who you’re talking to, you’ll have trouble reaching your audience and ultimately selling your product or service.
A buyer persona is simply a description of the person you’re trying to reach. It’s a useful way to develop segments in your prospective customers and to ensure you’re communicating with them in the way that they have chosen.
Creating a buyer persona brings those individuals to life and helps you figure out how to market to them. This is an essential part of branding for small businesses.
You may have more than one persona for your ideal customers. In some cases, you could have several decision makers (personas) for your product within the same company.
Here’s how to get started on your personas.
- Assign a name to your “persona.” Write out the features of that person (“Kristy is a stay-at-home mother with small children who likes buying organic food”) to get to know her.
- For a fun exercise in creating a buyer persona, try writing a short story about a typical day in the persona’s life. Spend some time in their shoes.
- Then, when you do your marketing, keep that “person” in mind and address your messaging to her specifically.
Try developing your buyer personas with information such as:
- Persona name
- Career path or professional background
- Typical age, hobbies and whether they live in urban, suburban or rural areas
- What challenges and goals they face in their roles
- How we can help them overcome these challenges
- What their common objections are during the sales process (if possible, in their own words)
- Their role in the buying decision
- Communication preferences, and where they go for information
- Marketing message – what kind of messages do they need to hear from us
- Real quotes – what sales objections you hear from them
3. Know and get comfortable with your unique selling proposition
Customers and prospects are overwhelmed with all their choices and options. Why do they need to choose your business instead of another? This is what your unique selling proposition (USP) does.
A unique selling proposition is a statement you choose to embody that
differentiates your products and your brand from your competitors.
This should be an opinionated and deliberate statement that helps focus your marketing strategy and influences messaging, branding, copywriting and other marketing decisions. You don’t want a generic statement like “we sell the best bicycles available today.” A great USP should embody what your business does as a whole – your brand’s experience.
Ideally, a company’s USP addresses customers’ specific needs and highlights a truly unique quality of its products. Working out a USP helps build your business brand.
Here are a few good branding examples:
- Ben & Jerry’s: We make the best possible ice cream in the best possible way.
- Death Wish Coffee Co.: The world’s strongest coffee.
- TOMS: Pick your style. Pick your stand.
- L’Oréal: Because You’re Worth It.
- Goldfish: The snack that smiles back.
- Kay Jewelers: Every kiss begins with Kay.
Click to see more great USP and brand examples.
As Seth Godin put it:
“Instead of working so hard to prove the skeptics wrong, it makes a lot more
sense to delight the true believers. They deserve it, after all, and they’re the ones
that are going to spread the word for you.”
In other words, don’t waste time trying to be everything to everyone. Narrowly focusing your brand values and your USP helps you find your perfect customers. Spend your resources on them.
4. Know your sales funnel
A sales funnel is a marketing concept that maps out the journey a customer goes through when making any kind of purchase. It’s also known as “the path to purchase.” Although they may be known by other names, in general any sales funnel includes these stages:
graphic from MailMunch
As you know from your own purchasing decisions, generally the more expensive something is, the more time you’ll spend researching it. This is especially so for business to business selling. You start by becoming aware of a product or service that may solve a particular need or problem. You become more interested by gathering information from websites, reviews, industry reports, blogs and referrals.
Purchasing is not a linear path
But it’s not time for a purchase – yet. You will probably ask more questions before coming to a decision. How will the product work for me? Will it do what it says it can? What if it doesn’t? If your questions are answered to your satisfaction, then you may proceed with your purchase. If not, you go back to acquiring more information (or investigating another similar product or service). And the cycle starts all over again.
It’s the same for a prospect considering purchasing your product or services. Each time the prospect passes through each stage of the funnel, it signifies a deeper commitment to your business’ brand and the purchase goal. But getting the timing right is tricky. Too much information offered too soon can be seen as “pushy”.
Your company’s sales funnel will rarely be as simple as the diagram, but it will serve a vital marketing objective: to help decide what types of information to offer at each stage of the purchase journey. Google search, a company website, social media and blogs are all important marketing tools for offering the right information at the right time.
5. Establish your expertise with a blog
Consider how you’re connecting with your personas and what kind of brand identity you’d like to create. Blogging is essential for today’s small businesses because it’s the place where you communicate your brand’s purpose and values.
Blogging establishes a strong brand and encourages customer loyalty. Also, you can use your blog to request feedback from your audience. If you have an engaged following, it’s very likely that they will be happy to answer the questions you have about how they’re using your product and what their experience has been. Have you met their expectations? Have you made it easy and hassle-free to purchase the product?
Consider these interesting statistics about blogging from Small Business Trends:
- Marketers that use blogs get 67 percent more leads than those who don’t.
- 81 percent of U.S. online consumers trust information and advice from blogs.
- Companies that blog have 97 percent more inbound links.
- 61 percent of U.S. online consumers have made a purchase based on recommendations from a blog.
- 60 percent of consumers feel more positive about a company after reading custom content on its site.
When you communicate a brand purpose that goes beyond what you sell, it helps you stand out from your competition. Your customers and prospects want to know there are real people behind your company. So don’t be afraid to show your humanity and personality when marketing your business. You don’t have to write like an encyclopedia to provide valuable information and prove your expertise.
Marketing a small business during an economic downturn is less complicated when you apply some basic principles to your communications and sales efforts. Returning to these tried and true basics will help simplify your marketing approach and connect with your customers during uncertain times.
Direct mail is a natural extension of small business marketing. When you’re ready to give it a try, let us help. EnvyPak, a division of Univenture, is based in Ohio, and manufactures the best-looking and best-performing clear polypropylene direct mail envelopes and packaging products in the marketplace.
We help large and small businesses develop direct mail programs that compliment their branding message. Contact us today with questions – we’re happy to help!
https://www.envypak.com/contact-us/ or phone 877-835-3052.