Most of us are familiar with the story of David and Goliath. The word ‘goliath’ is synonymous with ‘giant’ or ‘strong.’ So if you feel like a lowly shepherd boy in your industry and fear that your marketing dollars will leave you crushed by your competition, let me give you some stones to arm your slingshot. You may see dividends of Biblical proportions (well, maybe not biblical).
Know your Message, What Makes you Special, and Communicate that Clearly
My sons are 6 and 9 years old. If you ask them what I do for work (and I did ask them), they respond with “my Mom makes websites that get found on the internet.” While my pride might want to give a more detailed and glamorous answer, that pretty much covers what we do.
So my question to you is this. Can your kid, or any kid, clearly answer that question? While I realize your target audience is probably not in elementary school, your messaging should still be very simple. David did not seek to defeat Goliath in the most grandiose manner, but rather an efficient manner. Additionally, he didn’t want to get clobbered either. Before you spend a dime on any form of marketing, get this part right.
Beat the Streets (Literally and Figuratively)
Even if you serve clients in other parts of the region, country or world, you can still engage with the community at large.
- Network in person. Nothing beats a face to face meeting to get the ball rolling. Even in this digital age, a warm meeting is a strong place to start.
- Offer to speak, for free, at local business events. Most networking groups have speakers and they’re always on the lookout for more. Be available and be engaging.
- Work with a non-profit. Volunteer your products or services to gain exposure while supporting the cause.
- Use LinkedIn in every way possible. EVERY. WAY. POSSIBLE.
Start a Referral Program
If you’ve started a business, hopefully you’re selling a product or service that people want and would pay to have or use. If not, you may have a bigger problem.
Offer free or discounted services or products for referrals. If you can afford it, offer cash or gift cards as an incentive. Your best customers may refer you anyway, but a little cash in hand never hurt either.
Establish a Culture of Customer Loyalty
DirecTV has gotten this concept so impossibly wrong it still causes me to shake my head in disbelief.
DirecTV only rewards new customers. There is little to no customer loyalty program and what’s worse is they stalk you when you quit with deals they refused to offer you before you left.
Don’t do this!
If you have customers who have been with you for a while or are repeat customers, HOOK THEM UP! Rewarding loyalty is always a good investment. We have several customers who have stayed with us for a while and we always do little extras for them. Offer excellent customer service, address any issues quickly and always be willing to take care of them.
Know your Limits and Work with Them
If David had run headlong into Goliath with reckless abandon, I doubt the story would be worth retelling. It certainly wouldn’t act as the allegorical tale it is today. David’s approach was strategic and planned. If you don’t have the money, then you need to find the time. If you don’t have the time, you need to get more money. Most businesses owners are short on both, but are usually more willing to part with time at first.
Establish goals for your marketing by month, quarter and year. What do you want your lead flow to look like in 6 months? How do you plan to get there? If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. This holds true for everyone.
Without question, partnerships are the building blocks to fast growth. We made several strategic partnerships when we first started and we still have some of them today. No business makes it in this world alone, so be open to some quid pro quo. The best partnerships are those that have a common market and a complementary service.
For example, we have relationships with some well-established marketing firms in Charlotte. They’ve been in business for 15-25 years, have seen the trends and have a solid reputation. Our company is small, has been in business for 5 years, but has made large strides in the digital marketing space. Our partnerships with these firms provide us with access to bigger accounts and provide them with the ability to expand their service offerings. It truly is a WIN-WIN.
If your business is in holistic medicine, partner with a local acupuncturist or yoga instructor and cross promote. Perhaps your business is in bookkeeping and fractional CFO work. You should look into partnering with an expense reduction firm. You don’t want to compete for the business; you want to partner to offer more value to your mutual customer base. Essentially, you’re adding stones to your satchel and strengthening your position.
Though I can hardly call FB a secret weapon, the ads can be highly effective and REALLY cheap. For about $2-$5 a day, you can target your audience by gender, age, marital status, location and what kind of things they like. Though there is a cost associated with PPC and you will need a FB account to use the PPC feature, it can be a worthwhile expense when executed properly.
When you can’t compete in strength, prestige or size you must be resourceful and clever. Those two attributes cannot be purchased or stolen. David used his talents to best the mighty Philistine and you can do the same. Survival of the fittest is not a measure of strength, but of adaptability.