by Cadu Medina, Founder/CEO, Craf2m Marketing Agency
In today’s competitive business environment, if you are not offering uncompromised quality and lack an obsessive determination to create value for your customers, your chances of succeeding in business are slim-to-none. There are just way too many choices for everything, and consumers are far more demanding and more informed than ever. To succeed, small businesses must become better, smarter marketers.
When small business owners become better marketers, they are not only better prepared to create value for their customers, but also to partner with marketing and advertising vendors like ad agencies, graphic designers, printers, web developers and social media managers who work together to take their businesses to even greater levels of success.
In my 20 years of experience working in marketing for businesses, large and small, B2B and B2C, in Brazil or in the U.S., I’ve realized that there are just a few essential components that any business needs to focus on to grow and succeed.
1 — Know and follow your business foundations: your vision, mission, goals and core values.
You need to know, follow and share your business foundations. Your core-value statements or mission statements should anchor every aspect of your business as a set of beliefs, commitments and guiding principles. It’s not the beauty of the building; it’s the foundation that matters.
2 — Understand your audience, their needs and wants.
If you target everyone with one marketing message, you’ll lose over half of your audience simply because it doesn’t relate to them. So get to know exactly who your customers are.
3 — Build a strong, authentic brand that reflects your foundations and connects with your target audience.
Simply put, your brand is your promise to your customer. Your brand is derived from your business foundations. It should communicate who you are, who you want to be and what people perceive you to be. Your business name, your logo, your colors, your website, packaging, promotional materials, and everything else that represents your business, are elements of your branding strategy — all of which should consistently communicate your brand values.
4 — Stop marketing like it’s 1995, and follow your customers’ attention and habits.
Today’s marketplace is very complex and noisy. Follow your customers’ attention and habits. Where their attention is — that’s where you market to them.
5 — People buy with their hearts, not their heads, and the way to their hearts is great storytelling.
There’s one thing about marketing that hasn’t changed. People buy with their hearts, not their heads. Your customers are not interested in the features of your products, but how it will make them feel.
6 — Old marketing was persuasion, while new marketing is invitation.
Survey your customers, engage with them, give them what they want, and they will follow. When you really know your customers, and what they want you give it to them, they will follow you because they feel like they’re part of the process.
7 — Social media, a blog, a podcast or a vlog are not only relationship-builders, but it’s also authority and proof of expertise.
The internet has changed business and the marketplace completely. Most importantly, it eliminated the “middleman,” allowing any business, large or small, to have access to everyone on the planet! So, pick the platforms that best deliver your content to your audience, and start communicating and engaging with your audience (where they are) now.
8 — Think marketing beyond acquisition, and act before it’s urgent.
Don’t wait until your business is in desperate need for more customers. Be proactive and learn to leverage your best results to build momentum. Most of the time, the best opportunities for growth and revenue are in your customer base.
9 — Try new methods but track and measure everything.
Try different marketing mixes, traditional and digital, preferably when tactics are integrated and intended to create more value for your audience and deliver better results for your business. Track everything and know your key performance indicators and your return on investment.
10 — Have patience. A successful business is not built overnight.
Be clear about your business foundations. Patience and persistence, plus efficiency (the right things) and effectiveness (doing things right), equals growth. Add systems to the equation and you get consistent, sustainable growth. This is my definition of a small (smart) business.
Cadu Medina has over 20 years of experience in marketing and advertising working for large multinational corporations such as SAP Brazil and Y&R San Francisco. In 2011, he founded Craf2m, a full-service marketing agency and now helps local businesses plan, execute and manage their marketing. To learn more about Craf2m go to craf2m.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.