Marketing Communication and Small Business – Pluses and Pitfalls

Although it is universally acknowledged that communication is an essential tool for establishing and maintaining relationships in any sphere of life, small businesses are often guilty of either ignoring or making a right royal botch up of their marketing communication.

This is obviously not intentional, but rather a by-product of the stresses and strains of the daily running of a small business. A lack of time, resources and awareness all contribute to marketing communication either falling off the small business agenda altogether or being implemented in a haphazard and often damaging manner.

This is unfortunate (but can easily be corrected!) because effective marketing communication can be such a asset to a small business. Here are just a few potential benefits:

1) Building your businesses “brand” through increased awareness.

2) Attracting your “ideal” customer rather than just any customer.

3) Establishing your credentials in your field of business.

4) Increasing turnover

5) Giving your business a “voice” which customers can relate to.

If your marketing communications can achieve those 5 points then you will be laughing all the way to the bank.

The flip side of the picture is less rosy – and unfortunately more common for small businesses. Here is what can happen when your marketing communications are haphazard and unplanned.

1) Your business “brand” and business “voice” are undefined and thus of no benefit to you.

2) The customers receive mixed messages about what they can expect from your business.

3) As a direct consequence of (2), your business cannot hope to meet all of your customers expectations because these are based on erroneous assumptions.

4) The consequence of (3) is that you fail to build credibility in the market place.

5) The upshot of (4) is decreased turnover.

The harsh truth is that, in this scenario, a small business may have spent good money to create an unhappy customer! Such is the power of communication, and small businesses are doing themselves a disservice by not paying adequate attention to their marketing communication.

Internal Marketing Communication

Internal marketing communication is an important aspect of the marketing campaign. You will want to keep this flowing at all times to get the focus on your business. There are many different ways to communicate with your customers, but we would like to focus on 3 strong ways here.

1) Emails– Direct emails are a powerful way to communicate with your customers. The information is delivered to a list of individuals who have already shown an interested in what you are marketing. They will be highly receptive to the information that you send. Update your list frequently to capture the attention of your internal clients.

2) Blogs– You have lots of room to talk about anything you like. You will have an audience who is interested in what you have to say. Communicating about your business and your products is a natural part of blogging. Offer good information in your posts and you will have the opportunity to show off what you do as well.

3) Auto Responders– Once someone is inside your sales funnel you will want to stay in constant communications with them. You can use an auto responder to make this happen. You have the opportunity to send out messages with the content you want and at the frequency you determine. This is a powerful way to communicate not only with your new leads, but your partners as well.

The trick to internal marketing communication is to target you audience and stay consistent. You will want to offer the right information to them to keep them coming back. Take the time to learn about your options for communication and you will go far. A solid marketing and mentoring program can help you figure out what works best for you and your business.

5 Reasons Your Marketing Communication is Falling Flat

One of my associates sent me a promotional email she’d received. “I know this marketing communication doesn’t work,” she told me, “but why doesn’t this make me want to buy?” I took a look, and what I saw was familiar and sad. The promotional piece was for a weekend retreat. I could feel all the good intentions behind it, but the words just lay on the page like tired puppies. Worn out. No zip. No life.

As solo business owners, we are often at a loss to understand why our words aren’t getting a better response. Although an offer can fail for many reasons, I always recommend you look first to your marketing communication.

Why? Because if your message doesn’t connect, you won’t get much payoff from more exposure. Once your words really speak to people, you’ll get more bang for your buck from more marketing activity or better alignment.

Here then, are the top 5 reasons your marketing communication may fail to strike a chord.

1. No Clear Focus for What You are Offering.

When we aren’t clear on the ultimate outcome that we are delivering, we sometimes try boosting our appeal by offering to deliver everything under the sun. In this case? The retreat offered: renewal, creativity, connection, peace, appreciation of life, awareness, balance, and self-discovery

Phew! It’s so many different ideas my poor brain can’t wrap around it all. There’s no central theme or image I can use to fix in my mind what she’s offering. Instead of thinking “wow! I’d get a lot from this experience,” I walk away thinking, “I am confused, and I wonder if the retreat leader is too.”

2. No Verbal Markers that Say “I am talking to you!”

When we try to be a fit for everybody, we end up being a fit for nobody. Even when we think we believe in the law of attraction, our words often reflect our indecision or confusion about whom we want to reach. One sure sign that you aren’t clear? When there are no concrete “identifiers” in your copy. By identifiers, I mean phrases like “as a working mom,” “as a business owner,” “in the workplace,” “navigating the world of academia.” These concrete markers confirm for the audience that your marketing communication was written for them. It makes it personal.

3. No New Insight into Your Audience’s Struggle

It’s no longer enough to let your audience know that you feel their pain. You have to quickly demonstrate that you have valuable insight into that pain. That you’ve made some connection they haven’t about why they are stuck where they are. That gives them hope that what you are offering aren’t the same old tired solutions that they’ve heard of before.

In this marketing piece, I would have liked to have heard answers to questions like “What is it that leads us to be so disconnected from ourselves?” “Why is renewal needed now more than ever?” Even something as simple as “The harder we work, the more we need quiet, open space to recharge our batteries” would have made me go, “hmm, could that be true for me?”

4. No Visible Plan for Delivering on Your Promise

Once you’ve shown that you know your audience, and you have a juicy and specific outcome to offer them, the communication shifts. Your reader is no longer asking, “Am I interested?” She is asking, “Do I believe this person can deliver on what they are promising?”

Testimonials are one way to establish credibility, but what testimonials don’t do is create a picture for your audience of how you lead them step by step to the destination you’ve promised. When the way you deliver is a mystery, you’re asking people to take a big leap of faith. When you describe your logic, process, or philosophy in a limited number of steps, your audience can see how your steps or ingredients add up to the outcome you are promising.

For example, if the woman offering the retreat had listed the “five stages of renewal” or the “three ingredients of creative discovery,” her readers would have immediately believed more strongly that she could deliver.

5. No Fire in your Belly

To me, words are transparent. They reveal every nuance of who you are, how you see yourself in relationship to the world, and how you feel about your work. Since so many creative professionals say they hate marketing, it is a surprise that the communication they write comes across as strained and tense?

On a gut level, you readers will feel if you are writing from the place of consuming excitement about what you offer or from a place of caution and ambivalence. The more you let your words carry your passionate and full-hearted energy, the more your message will have an indefinable “something” that stirs the readers’ soul and sparks their interest in what you offer.

Copyright 2004-5. Isabel Parlett. All rights reserved.

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