3 Fundamental Marketing Strategies to Help your Business Stand Out


For the past few months, Small Business Stories has sponsored a free business seminar for small businesses. Iโ€™m considering recording these and putting them on the podcast. Let me know if you would be interested in that!

In our last seminar, we had an awesome discussion with Chris Sheetz, the advertising director for Harris Publishing. Iโ€™ll share with you my main takeaways.

1. Look for ways to differentiate yourself from your competition

This requires research. You need to take a look at the marketplace and find gaps that you can fill. One way to do this is to literally just scope out the stores of your competitors. For example, Chris did marketing research for a local nursery by going to all the nearby nurseries and large home stores (Home Depot and Lowes) and taking note of the types of goods they carried and at what prices. The store owner she was doing this for was then able to use this information to make marketing and strategic decisions.

Another key point was that when you differentiate yourself, you have to provide a clear explanation. You don’t want to just say “we’re the best” or that you are “a business you can trust.” You have to know why you are saying those things. What makes you the best? Why can you be trusted? It’s better to use the answers to those questions in your marketing instead of blanket statements.

2. Constantly put yourself and your message out there

I call this the ABC’s of marketing (Always Be Conversing) and this is a lesson I originally gleaned from Spencer Quinn of FiberFix. If you haven’t listened to that episode, he constantly looked for and found opportunities to talk about his product to his target market both for sales purposes and to learn about what they wanted. It helped him make sales and fine tune his product. Plus, he can roll out products just based on what people want.

We talked about how putting yourself out there can make you feel uncomfortable and can be even be a bit scary. But the reality is that you have to do it and you have to do it as much as possible. We discussed that the goal of going out there is definitely to get leads and sales, but its also to connect and listen. One example Chris shared is that when she sees a new building being constructed, she will stop and ask about it. She’ll talk about whether they are doing a grand opening and if they need help. Often, they haven’t gotten that far so she ends up having a leg up on others who might be interested in offering that service.

How to get the message out

Guerrilla Tactics
This is basically using creative and inexpensive methods to get the word out. This may include putting fliers on cars, knocking doors, yard signs, or anything you can come up with. Chris stopping by buildings in the process of construction is another example. Guerrilla marketing is limited only by your imagination. A great example comes from Davis Smith of Cotopaxi. When they wanted to get the word out about their outdoor gear, they rented a couple llamas and strolled through college campuses. It got them a lot of attention and attracted a lot of customers.

Social Media
Social Media is all the rage right now. Our discussion wasn’t specifically about using social media, but one issue we hit on quite a bit was the fact that using social media takes consistency and dedication. Because you actually have to be social! If you want to take on social media, you need to understand the platform and consider if your audience is using that platform.

Some of the upcoming guests on the podcast will be sharing specific strategies about how to grow through social media. I just interviewed Shari Sanderson from Sincerely Jean and she dropped some serious value bombs about using Pinterest to drive webtraffic.

Don’t overlook the value of print, radio, or billboard advertising. We didn’t get into too much of the specifics on this, but I did have a conversation with a friend who told me he got a surprising amount of business from running an ad in the Yellow Pages.

3. Establish Meaningful Relationships

Zig Ziglar has said, “”You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.” Chris shared some practical examples of how this is true. For instance, she shared how helping a charity can result in a win-win. Specifically, she worked with a restaurant that gave out free dessert coupons to people who participated in a canned food charity event. This gave the participants added value, provided significant exposure to the restaurant, and helped the charity.

As for the costs, she noted that very few coupons of this nature are ever actually redeemed. In her experience it is about 20%. Plus, it would be a good idea to structure the freebie so that you can upsell at the time of redemption.

As a personal example, I recently got a $10 coupon from a local Mexican restaurant. I actually redeemed it, but I also spent an additional $30. That’s $30 I would not have otherwise given to the restaurant because I had no plans to go there.

So when you are developing relationships with others, it’s not that you want to play the martyr. Rather, the ideal is that you can create win-win opportunities for everyone.

BONUS: Don’t worry too much about the nay-sayers

Whenever you put yourself out there, people are going to think you are annoying. This is something Will Ferrell shared in a recent commencement speech given to the University of Southern California.

To some people I will be annoying. Some people will not think I’m funny. And that’s okay.

Will Ferrell didn’t let the fear of people thinking he was annoying stop him from performing. Likewise, you should not let the fear that people will not like you or your message stop you from sharing.

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