Stop Marketing, Start Branding
Do you find marketing daunting? Do you find it maddening? At the end of the day, marketing takes a combination of time, and money. Both of which, are resource scarcities that small business operators face. But remember that very few small businesses need to hit critical mass. Until you’re at a stage where you’re really ready to scale up, you probably have some real capacity constraints.
It really doesn’t matter what industry you’re in either. If you’re a wedding photographer for example, how many clients can you take on in any given week? Keep in mind that there’s a lot of work in post that you have to do as well. If you’re a restaurant, how many people can you really serve before your kitchen overflows? Even if you’re a product based business that can support higher volumes. In the short term, you have cash flow, space, and supply restrictions that will limit that capacity. And while hitting it big is great, think about the level of service that you will be able to provide if you surpass that capacity.
So how important then, is it for your website to be on that first page of Google? Is it worth it, to spend money retaining the services of an SEO company? Is it worth it to spend time and maybe money on digital marketing campaigns? Which is really advertising. As effective as these efforts might potentially be, are there areas where it might be better for you to allocate your resources? I’m not saying that these aren’t areas that you’ll eventually want, or even need to allocate resources, but we should consider if it is the best areas right now for you and your business?
Before you start thinking about scaling up, start thinking about if you’re READY to scale up. Is your business, your brand, prepared for it. So before anything, lay that foundation first. So we’re talking about investing in your brand. Here are 3 brand marketing items to do before you start your digital marketing strategy
Make sure you have a full understanding of the basics of what your brand represents. Your why. Your Unique Value Proposition. Your core values. Make sure that you are able to effectively communicate this with your target audience. These are the core elements of your brand.
What happens next, will depend on your industry. In a broad brush, we call this part of brand building, your ‘service design’. Make sure that the services that you provide are delivered well. Make sure that your products and services are delivered consistently and consistently well. Make sure that the experience is consistent throughout. If you have a restaurant, this means your signage. The ambiance. The décor. The food quality. The plating. Your waitstaff. Everything that has to do with providing your patrons with a positive experience at your restaurant.
From there, take a look at your website. As James Hipkin mentioned in an earlier episode of our podcast this season, your website is the most valuable digital asset that you own. It is the hub of all our marketing efforts. It’s where people go to vet you and your business if they like what they see and hear in your social media and in all your other marketing tactics. Does the look, feel, and messaging reflect your brand? Does it help people move forward in their decision making process?
Once these foundational elements are done, then we can start looking at your marketing strategy. Are you fully utilising your email list, because this is the 2nd most valuable digital asset that you own. Your email list is gold. Treat it like the treasure it is because that list consists of people that have given you permission to connect with them. So please don’t abuse it. If you’re using automation, please make sure that you’ve segmented the groups thoroughly so that you are speaking specifically to that specific audience.
But I digress. Email marketing should be part of your content marketing. Putting together a podcast. Social media. Blogs. Newsletters. Videos. Not only are these vehicles helping to communicate your message, but it goes back to investing in your brand, because it helps people understand your values, it elevates your position of authority, and it reminds people of your existence. Which means… at the same time, you are investing in your brand by engaging in these endeavours.
In essence, if you invest in your brand, you are, by extension, marketing. And you’re therefore not wasting resources to do so. You might want to do it yourself, whereby you’re investing more time. Or, bring in experts to help. It’s kind of like cutting your own hair. You might be able to do a good job cutting it yourself, but a professional is likely going to be able to do it better, for less time. In this case, you’ll be investing some money. So if you’re going to be allocating resources, invest in your brand.
As a small business, your resources are limited. You should be focusing on the things that generate revenue. Which is why, the time and energy that you spend on these elements should be limited. The difficulty, is that you should also be consistent. So you need to think about what is a realistic and achievable goal in this consistency. While daily updates to your social media would be GREAT. It doesn’t HAVE to be the case. Some people have a daily or a weekly blog. Others put together articles monthly, or quarterly. Regardless of your consistency targets, make sure you choose one that is reasonable for your business. See how far you can get by doing it this way. Evaluate if it’s the content that’s not hitting, or if you should be doing more.