“I hate marketing.”
I was recently talking to the owner of a tutoring business, and she was shaking her head in despair. She offers lessons in person and online for K-12 students, and she’s been trying to get more students registered. Every time she signs up a few more, a few others move on. It happens over and over again. It’s one step forward, one step back, over and over.
Since I work with a marketing agency (hello, by the way! I’m Kirrily, a copywriter), I asked about her marketing strategy. She groaned and put her head in her hands.
“I’m just not a sales person,” she said. “I’m no good at it. I don’t like it at all.”
It got me thinking. Marketing can be intimidating when you’re first getting started, but it’s nowhere near as scary as you think. On top of that, it’s essential for every small business! I’m going to tell you exactly what I told this business owner, because there are some really common marketing myths floating around that we can bust wide open.
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Myth 1: Marketing is sales
First things first, marketing is not the same things as sales! Marketing for your business doesn’t have to mean dressing in a suit, shining your shoes, and putting on your best travelling-door-salesman smile. You don’t even have to offer a free set of steak knives (although, of course, you can if you’d like). Marketing is essentially opening the door. Then, when the customer walks in, sales is there to seal the deal.
Marketing is all about education. In order to choose your products or services, people need to know they exist. Further to that, in order to choose your products or services over a competitor, they need to know why you’re the best choice. And when they do go ahead and choose you, they need to have a great customer experience, so they go ahead and tell their friends (word or mouth is, after all, the oldest and most effective form of marketing there is). As you can see, information is the key.
There are lots of ways you can do this. The most obvious way is to create a great website that has all this information readily available, presented in a clear and engaging way. It’s really important that your website follows a logical structure and that all the information is well-organized, because it’s essentially your digital shopfront. You wouldn’t leave a pile of packing boxes, old milk bottles, and empty flour packets at the front of your café, would you? Keep your website clutter-free.
The next thing we recommend to all our clients is to set up a Facebook page for your business. This is a friendly and casual way to deliver your messaging right into the pockets of your community, whether that’s existing customers, people living in your area, or demographics you’d like to target. Start by inviting your family and friends to like your page, then encourage all your current customers to like your page, and make sure you share content they’ll find interesting and relevant.
Myth 2: Marketing is pushy
Good marketing won’t feel like marketing at all. Yes, that statement sounds a bit silly, but let us explain. Put simply, “marketing” really just means making information available in a way that people find interesting and helpful. It doesn’t mean you’re shouting for their attention.
Here’s an example. Say your furnace breaks down on the coldest night of the year. What’s the first thing you’re going to do? Modern consumers are most likely to whip out their phone, and Google something like “emergency furnace repair” or “furnace repair near me.”
Google is then going to generate a map showing you all the businesses in your area that have the words “furnace” and “repair” on their websites, which will mean you can quickly see all your local HVAC companies, check out their location and service hours, scan through their reviews, and start making phone calls. Have they shouted at you? No. Have they given helpful information? Yes.
This, dear friends, is modern marketing at its finest.
When we explain this concept to our clients, we like to use an analogy of a cat. If you try to make a cat eat, it’s most likely going to stick its nose in the air, run away, and hide under your bed for a few hours. If you leave some food out, however, the cat will come and find it when it’s ready.
There are a couple of really simple techniques you can use to put this into practice:
- Google My Business is an easy-to-find profile that helps people quickly identify who you are and how you can help them. It will make sure you pop up on local Google Maps searches.
- Google Search Ads are the ads that appear at the very top of the Google Results page. These are targeted to specific combinations of keywords and function on a pay-per-click model.
- Google Display Ads are visual ads that appear on websites all over the internet. These are targeted, so you can optimize them for a specific demographic, and also
Myth 3: Marketing is really hard
It’s true, there are a lot of facets to modern marketing, and learning them all is a considerable investment of time. However, it doesn’t have to be hard work. In fact, you can have a lot of fun along the way (okay yes, we’re total marketing nerds).
However, if you’re slaving away in front of the computer for hours, and you’re finding the content you’re creating to be boring and uninteresting, there’s a fair chance your audience will find it boring and uninteresting too. That means it’s time to think outside the box.
One way to do this is video! Video has exploded in recent years. It can be as cheap and cheerful, or as polished and proper, as you like. Either way, people find it super engaging! All you have to do decide what you want to talk about, plan out maybe three key points you’d like to discuss, and go for it. This can be livestreamed or pre-recorded, it’s totally up to you. People like people, so this can be a great way to work smarter, not harder.
Another great idea, which we use ourselves, is to create content calendars. Planning things like social media or blogs in advance means you’re never stuck for ideas. You can wait until inspiration strikes and then knock out a whole bunch of posts in one go, keeping your brand fresh and your messaging consistent. That’s the most important thing, after all: consistency.
To be honest with you, that’s where we see most businesses come unstuck. They tackle digital marketing with tremendous enthusiasm for a few weeks, and then lose their mojo before they start converting leads. Don’t start too hard and burn out. Figure out what’s reasonable, and stick to it for the long-term. Ultimately, this will create much better brand recognition, consumer loyalty, and growth.
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