Posts Tagged small business marketing
Ever find that as a business, you have multiple personalities? That you can’t claim just one type of audience and you don’t know how to address these disparities, these fragments of identity that keep you from being able to write to one type, or have your web site formality set up to attract one type?
This is a common problem in business, especially small business. Small businesses don’t feel they have a big enough operation to set up landing pages and separate sites or areas for each type of audience. How will people know where to go? they say. It’s hard enough getting them to my web site in the first place.
Sometimes you can write to a variety of audiences, and provide content that resonates with all of them – like Web developer freelancers and CIOs, or teenage girls and their mothers. But sometimes it just doesn’t work.
If you sell cakes, you’re not going to appeal to brides and parents of little kids on the same page – unless your audience is
like my best friend, who had a Snork cake at her wedding. You need landing pages to appeal to these specialized audiences, so you can provide your bride with beautiful wedding cake photos that evoke the emotions of her special day, and tout your partnership program with the florist next door who makes the most ethereal arrangements. The Dad on the Run looking for the perfect Transformers cake for his 6-year-old, a man who wouldn’t know “fondant” if it hit him in the face, will not stay long enough on your Web site to find your Optimus Prime masterpiece if he sees a bunch of frilly wedding sculptures tufted with pearls. You get the picture.
5-Step crash course in targeted vertical marketing.
- So you set up tabs on your web site, and link to them all clearly, with photos if possible, on your home page. Make the navigation easy as pie, or cake. Fill your lovely targeted pages with copy and content directed only at the audience for that page. Have your main navigation bar always visible on the side to help others find what they need if that page doesn’t have it (help Dad discover Optimus instead of Bridezilla).
- Write about your various skills in your blog and create categories with lots of keyword tags. Register your blog on Technorati and hook it up to a Twitter feed, if you have the time to post something to Twitter (or “tweet”) an average of once a day.
- You research keywords on the Internet and find out what people are searching for – bless you Google Keywords Tool – then you put some of those keywords on your pages along with great, educational, informative content. In your own style. Polished but approachable.
- If you post any ads online, link them to special landing pages just for those customers (your designer will know how to do this, or you can just set up a separate tab in your blog or on the site template and DIY), and add in a promotional code you can track or a coupon they can print and bring in, so you know it’s working.
- Measurement is important (see step 4), which is why you should also visit Google Analytics and register your site so you can look at who is visiting your page, where they are coming from, and how long they stay. Then you can play around with the site and see if more videos, more photos, or different headlines make a difference.
In a fascinating article entitled “Does Your Brand Have a Lame Personality?” on Talent Zoo, Tommy Walker starts out seemingly contradicting some of the basic tenets of branding that I have posted here on Royal Pain. Shocked and dismayed, I read the article voraciously, trying to discern if there was some new idea in branding that I hadn’t seen coming. Has the UVP (Unique Value Proposition) been replaced with a multifaceted personality that works with different audiences in different ways? Maybe. But by the end of the article, I breathed a sigh of relief, for my foundation had not been rattled. Emboldened definitely, but not shaken.
I am intrigued by the concept Walker raised of being a “living, breathing” brand, just as a person has many aspects to his or her personality. He asks, “[D]o all of your friends like you for the same reason?” It is worth pondering how the many faces of Eve can happily coexist in a brand that still manages to define itself. And finding the answer to this puzzle as well as why those friends do actually like you is where the 007 bit comes in.
But before we get to that: the UVP. I’m not quite ready to do away with it. I still think that you should choose a genre and customer personality that best fits you and commit to something, because the worst kind of person is the chameleon who puts on a different show with everyone he meets.
However, if you take Walker’s meaning as a nod to the way we present ourselves a little differently at home than at work, or the way we might love to attend the indie crafts market and show off our tattoos, but we also have a hard-driving business side that feels equally comfortable in a good suit… Read the rest of this entry »
In a stellar article on branding from Talent Zoo, Andrew Davis writes about what he believes are the two key points in branding: Singularity and consistency. As the article discusses the importance of simplicity, I love that he pares branding down to these two words. He writes, “Singularity means that you keep your brand narrowly focused and constructed around one central idea or theme. Consistency means that you keep this focus unchanged.” This premise makes total sense, and is one that is often ignored or not understood by many companies.
If you’re trying to make a name for yourself as an entrepreneur or small business, or you’re a big brand trying to capture more of the market, the game is the same: KISS – Keep It Simple, Sweetheart. (We southerners prefer the nicer version.) Customers need to be able to associate you with something specific – that’s what a brand is. You should be able to tell your story in seconds, if necessary.
“Keeping the brand narrowly focused ensures simplicity,” according to Davis. “And, simplicity means you can begin to ‘own’ a term in the mind of consumers. It’s this term that consumers use to define your brand.” This term is also what you would buy up in Google Adwords. It not only gives your customers something to grab onto when you have a long-term focus, but it helps you design a marketing plan and narrow your target audience.
And keeping “the focus unchanged” does not mean you can’t expand your offering or grow your market or take on new ventures. It means you need to know what you stand for and help customers stay loyal to you by continuing to stand for it. There’s enough whiplash change out there for all of us to wallow in. Offer a safe haven (or a fun one, or a seriously twisted one…) for your customers, and be truly singular in a market filled with underachievers.
Personality makes more of a difference than you might think. With so many options out there in the marketplace, people are choosing their services and products more and more based on how that company’s or individual’s ideals and personality mesh with their own. Loyalty is hard to come by these days, and the only way to stand out among your peers is to let go of the mass market and find a niche. It’s called branding, and your niche will have much greater loyalty to you and your business personality than the masses ever could.
For example, do you put “green” concerns first in your business? Let your customers know how you feel. Eco-consciousness is an important factor in the current climate. Don’t “greenwash” your offering – people can smell a rat a mile away, and you will be
shunned for your falsehoods. However, if you are genuine in your mission, you can inspire customer loyalty by honest efforts to reduce your impact and provide green options for your customers through your brand.
Or maybe you’re an edgy business with rock n’ roll style? Does your “CEO” have a few body modifications? Adopt a style for your blog that conveys this aspect of your company. You’d be surprised about how far it will take you with a large percentage of your customer population. Sure, you might lose a few. But you will gain a genuine brand that you can feel good about promoting because it’s truly you, and your customers will appreciate it. And you might be surprised at how much of the population is tattooed and pierced. Get an icon professionally designed with a caricature of your most hard-core employee – is it you? – and flaunt it, baby!
Confused and befuddled by all of your online marketing options? Check this page for tips and ideas for talking to your customers, because that’s what it’s about. Join the conversation.
Looking forward to hearing from you.
Remember, marketing doesn’t have to be a pain.