So, you’re spending hours each week on your marketing. You’re keeping your social media channels up-to-date, adding new blog posts to your website and sending out regular newsletters. But you aren’t seeing a positive impact… What’s going wrong? And how can you get better results from your small business marketing?
It’s likely that you’ve forgotten the first, and most important, rule of small business marketing: It’s not about you, it’s about your customer. Stop thinking about what you do, and start thinking about the value your customers get from working with you and how you help them.
In this post, I’m going to show you why focusing on yourself too much is not a good thing – and what you can do to change this.
The problem with small business marketing
One of the main problems when it comes to getting poor results from small business marketing is that many businesses talk far too much about themselves. Take a look at a few small business websites and I’m sure you’ll quickly see what I mean.
Most tend to just describe who they are, what they do and where to find them – and leave the customer to figure out the rest. There’s usually very little focus on the kinds of problems they solve for their customers and why they should buy from them rather than their competitors.
The same goes for social media, newsletters and other marketing materials. Often these are based on the business itself, the products and services it provides, and the latest offers and sales. For customers, this can get boring very quickly.
So, to grow your small business sustainably and reliably, you should focus on your customers. This will get you much better results from your small business marketing – whether that’s more engagement, better conversion rates, or more repeat business and referrals. Let’s have a look at how you can achieve that.
How to focus on your customers
It’s all well and good to say you should focus more on your customers. But what does this actually mean? In simple terms, it just means: Talk to them more!
Always have your customers at the forefront of your mind when planning marketing activities, and talk to them directly: What are they looking for? How can you help them?
Start by looking at the language you use. Do you see lots of I/we and us/me in your marketing copy? Try using you and yours more often to speak directly to the customer.
This reinforces the fact that you’re there to help your customers, rather than just there to talk about yourself. Here’s an example of something a small business that specialises in fitting kitchens might write:
- Before – We have a knowledgeable team with years of experience in fitting kitchens.
- After – You can rely on our knowledgeable team to help you achieve your dream kitchen with our years of experience.
Small changes like this can make a big difference in the way customers (and potential customers) view your small business marketing.
But this doesn’t just apply to your copywriting. This focus on the customer should be present in all aspects of your small business marketing strategy, it’s one of the three main ingredients of successful marketing strategies!
The three pillars of small business marketing
To get better results from your small business marketing and build up long-term growth, you should focus on these three main ‘pillars’. These are your brand or USP (unique selling point), your products and services, and your customers’ needs.
The ‘me, me, me!’ marketing I’ve outlined above usually only uses two of these – brand and product/services. And small business marketing can work with only two of these three pillars. But it’s much harder and far more expensive to get good results.
If you’re relying solely on your brand and products to support your marketing, the content you produce will be very self-promotional. It’s likely that you’ll need paid adverts, competitions or regular discounts to get it to work. This will attract price shoppers rather than loyal, repeat customers.
However, if you add in your customers’ needs, your small business marketing strategy will be much more effective. By focusing your promotions & content on what they are looking for and how your products or services can help them make their lives easier, you’ll get better results.
You’ll get genuine engagement with loyal, supportive customers. Not only will you be able to build a great relationship with existing customers, but it will also be much easier to turn interested followers into paying customers.
Let’s take a look at each of these in more detail:
1. Brand & USP
A recognisable brand and a strong USP are really important for small businesses. This helps you to stand out from the competition and ensures that people remember your small business.
Your brand should be a mix of both your own values and your ideal customer’s values, helping to create a business that you’re passionate about as well as one that your customers will relate to.
- For example – you’re a small business producing skincare products. Your ethos is all about creating high-quality, cruelty-free products. Your customer is someone who values products and businesses which are environmentally friendly. Therefore, your brand/USP is centred around a range of vegan skincare products which can easily be recycled, and your marketing will focus on helping your customers enjoy a more eco-friendly daily routine.
Find out more about defining your USP and how it can help your small business marketing.
2. Products & Services
Although I have mentioned it’s important not to talk about yourself too much, it is vital to remember to tell people what it is you do! Promoting your products or services will be a big part of your small business marketing strategy.
But instead of a straightforward description of each product or service, try to think about how these help your customers. Focus on how the product or service would benefit them, and the features they can expect from it.
- For example – rather than describing one of your skincare products like this: “A moisturiser for dry skin with extracts of rose and lemongrass”. You might say instead: “Nourish your dry skin with our new moisturiser specially formulated to banish your dry patches. Your skin will feel instantly hydrated thanks to the rose extract, and the lemongrass scent will leave you feeling uplifted”.
Want to read more? Check out my post about benefits and features and how to apply them to your small business marketing.
3. Customer needs
To understand what your customer wants and needs from your small business, take the time to really think about who they are.
What situation are they usually in when they’re looking for your products or services (something we call a trigger)? How do they go through the process of purchasing something from you? Is there anything they struggle with or something they might need help with? I’ve written an entire blog post on this, so be sure to give it a read!
Look at what you’re selling, and how this can help a customer achieve their goals. Provide them with all the information they need to make an informed purchase and offer tips and advice to get the best results. Don’t expect your customers to guess how your products or services will improve their lives – tell them!
Be sure to test the full customer journey so you understand exactly what happens at each step – from realising that they have a problem that needs solving to looking for a solution through to making a purchase. Is it easy for people to find you and your products at each step of the process? Or could you offer more information, advice, tips and help?
- For example – your customer is probably someone who is already familiar with skincare but wants to make their routine more eco-friendly. Your marketing should highlight not only the handmade, natural element of the products but also how easy the packaging is to recycle. And additionally, you can provide them with more in-depth info on what ingredients and types of packaging to look out for and give tips on how they can generally be more eco-friendly in their day-to-day lives. Check this message is clear throughout your social media, newsletter, blog and website.
Over to you: Next steps
Have a look at your website, social media content and general marketing materials. Are you speaking to your potential clients or are you talking about yourself? Do you explain how they benefit from working with you and what you can help them with? If not, then you might be missing a trick.
Curious? Check out my blog series about customer-focused marketing for small businesses to get better results from your small business marketing!
To read more about this topic, have a look at these:
Customer Focus: Marketing Your Small Business Doesn’t Have to Be Annoying
How to Implement Customer-Focused Marketing for Your Small Business
Customer-Focused Marketing Ideas for Small Businesses
5 Ways to Stand Out From Your Competitors