For small businesses, it can be tough standing out from the crowd and getting your wonderful brand known. Here are a few tips to get you thinking:
Know your offer
This sounds obvious but it is absolutely crucial to defining your message in the marketplace. Ask yourself, what exactly are you offering? Is it a specific niche product / service? Why is it special? For example, I work with a wedding dress designer, Paula Moore, who is passionate about vintage dresses but is fully aware that the old, vintage dresses are very much designed for a different figure than women have today. As a result, her unique selling point is that she makes vintage-inspired dresses for today’s women’s sizes.
Once you have your offer nailed (and be as niche and specific as you like as there will be an audience for it), then you can think about who your customer is.
Who is your customer
Building a clear customer profile is a key insight into your brand and defines your marketing strategy. Give them a name, age bracket, hobbies, where they go, what their interests are and what appeals to them. Once you build this profile, you have a clear vision of who you’re talking to.
How to reach them
So, you have your end consumer in mind and know what makes them tick but how do you go about reaching them and through which means?
- Engaging and informative content.
Your customers – existing and potential – like interesting and engaging content. Have a think about how you can create content and what you can talk about and where you can share it. A blog is a great addition to a website and from an SEO perspective, it really helps as Google loves nothing more than new, original content. A blog can be written as regularly as you want, no pressure, but it’s a great way of sharing news on your brand and what you’ve been up to, sharing key product information, what plans you have and where you’ll be out and about.
A lot of brands send out newsletters to their database as it is a great way of sharing your news with people that may not necessarily go on your site. Newsletters don’t have to be laborious – use your wonderful blog content on them (with a link back to your site), share quotes from clients about your brilliant business, upload images and details of your products / services, share your tips and insights on topical events and or news that relates to your business.
Mailchimp is a great tool to build your newsletters and allows you to monitor engagement and open rates so you can tweak and modify your newsletters going forwards and you get to see what people are enjoying reading. And it’s free to do! Remember to make it easy for people to sign up to too – have a sign-up box prominent on your homepage.
- Social media
Another free opportunity to showcase your brand and business. This is where smaller businesses can really make their mark as, compared with the high street, they can create a unique identity, look and feel for their brand and engage directly with their customers. What’s crucial to remember here is that you, yes you, are part of your story and people are so interested about knowing who is behind the brand so remember that alongside your wonderful product shots, quotes, inspirational images and posts – include yourselves, your behind-the-scenes shots, you out and about etc.
I can’t stress enough how important video can be to a brand and making quick, easy video content is free and easy – you just need your phone. It may feel really cringe-y but go with it, as it gives another dimension to you and your business and allows your audience to hear from the people behind the brand. You can use video to introduce yourself, your products, your thoughts, your customers and your premises. Little, 30-second videos are great for posting and sharing on social too. And remember, it doesn’t have to be too serious – have fun with it!
- Get out there!
There is still nothing better than face-to face interaction and meeting and speaking to people about your brand. Take a look at your local community and fellow business owners – is there anything you can get involved in and support? I know Paula (who I mentioned before) is hugely part of her local community and goes out of her way to support and promote fellow businesses in her area. If there isn’t, why not start a meet up or a networking event for like-minded business owners and potential customers to come and support and engage? This can be promoted on social media and only takes your time and energy and the rewards can be great.
- Focus on your organic contacts
A lot of my clients say to me that their database is small and they worry that it is too small. My biggest tip is never buy data. As even though your Instagram / Facebook now has 3,000 followers which you think looks great, when only three people engage with a post then that looks suspicious and, frankly, bad.
It’s better to have 30 people who have voluntary engaged with you, have an investment in your brand and support you, on your list that you speak to once a month than a list of random names who mean nothing to you or your business. Focus on your tribe and grow them organically – so your previous / existing clients, press – local and regional, fellow business owners, people who visit your store (ask them to sign up for deals, offers, exclusives etc). Offer a refer a friend scheme so you can tap into their networks – it’s not only the 30 people on your list, it’s all their networks too, remember.
Do you know how many local press newspapers, magazines, blogs etc there are in your area? They all need content and love local angles / local person doing well story, so why not approach them and tell them yours? And not only what your offer is, but how you got there and why you’re doing what you’re doing. Similarly, online in your sector – have a look at online hubs, portals, magazines and groups that you can approach and spread the word about your business.
- Be an authority
I work with a wonderful client called Shaun Johnson who is a wedding an events planner in London. Shaun cut his events teeth at The National before launching his own company where he specialises in events and weddings in the capital. Shaun is great at ‘owning’ his knowledge and hosts a ‘Sunday Tips’ section on his Instagram offering insight and suggestions alongside in-depth blog posts about the dos and don’ts of events in a humorous, insightful and informative way.
Knowing your industry and your offer fully and being an authority in it is great – as you can be the go-to person for comments, tips and insight and establish yourself as an authority figure in that particular industry as well as attract your tribe of like-minded business owners and customers.
Make sure your website is looking and working the best it can possibly be as this is often the first impression a potential customer has of you and your business. Is it easy to navigate? Is it clear and looks inviting? Are you images high res and clear? Are your contact details and newsletter sign-up options prominent alongside your offer? If you are unsure, have a look around at other sites that you enjoy using and ask why that is and incorporate that into yours.
Does your business need any marketing help? email@example.com