When it comes to marketing your small business, differentiating your business from the competition can be difficult with consumers’ short attention spans and online platform threats with low-cost options.
Today’s Digital Marketing Update
In today’s Digital Marketing Update, Podcast #56, host John D. Verlin discusses 5 Tips To Stand Out in 2018.
John responds to concerns from an accountant in Overland Park, Kansas about online services taking away his business prospects.
A very real concern with today’s digital app/online platforms. The Uberization/Upworking of service firms and freelancers.
He discusses points that Steve Strauss mentions in a USA Today post from December, 2017 about how to grab a prospects attention as a memorable brand as more content and media choices reduce attention from just several years ago.
On Demand Advertising Solutions Three-Part Strategy
It’s all a part of our services and three-part strategy to drive SEO and web traffic so your business exceeds the profile and exposure of the competition!
The Extended Marketing Platform
We do this through an extended marketing platform–the perfect compliment to current advertising campaigns!
When it comes to marketing your business, business is constantly changing. More so, in times of uncertainty–change is inevitable.
What can a business do to stay ahead of the game and grow?
Today, Podcast #34 discusses seven ways your business can overcome change and thrive against the competition.
The time is now to begin to prepare as the competition will waste no time.
It’s all a part of our three-part strategy to drive SEO and web traffic and make your business exceed the profile and exposure of your competitors with an extended marketing platform–the perfect compliment to a Google Adwords campaign!
I want to start off today by talking to you briefly about a gentleman I talked to last week, who owns a business in the town I live in.
He said, “you know, John, we’ve been talking a little bit about what you do for your business, what you have to offer—and I’m interested”.
He said, “really, what you’re doing is complimentary to what I’m doing with Google Adwords.
“It reinforces what I’m trying to accomplish in search engine optimization, getting my name on lists, everything.”
And I said, “well, that’s a good point. Everything should be complimentary. Whatever you’re doing, radio, tv, print, email blasts, direct mail”. Whatever it is.
Particularly when it comes to content and your expertise—promoting that content and expertise. All of that should compliment one another, because that’s your marketing platform.
That’s the impressions that are formed when people visit your website or see you online. And when they bring up an ad in search in Google Adwords and get to your website. They’re going to see the different links, the different posts you’ve made on your blog.
The video’s, everything, all of that is going to agree with it and yes compliment the money you’re spending on Google.
Because now you have something to show them. It shows your value, shows your expertise. And shows how you’re in touch. And this all leads into what I want to talk about today.
A great post written by Martin Zwilling in Inc. Magazine at the end of September. Seven Ways Company’s Of Any Size Can Achieve Growth In Today’s Turbulent Market.
This could have been written twenty years ago—I mean when isn’t there a turbulent market?
He talks about some really great ideas that we have been talking about in these podcasts.
It goes right in line with what I’ve been trying to share with you about why these various elements about content and promotion are so important.
He’s basically saying that every opportunity today is global, and so is the competition.
How customer expectations are evolving and technology is changing, which is normal.
That has been the case, but it’s forcing companies from little ones to big ones to innovate quickly despite fear of change, uncertainty and doubt.
Evolving customer expectations and technology are forcing these changes.
There’s nothing we can do about it. We either lose customers or stay on top of things and gain them.
Basically we’ve got to capitalize on uncertainties in the market. Instread of letting these unknowns slow you down, get everybody on your team to make a commitment to respond quickly and effectively to these opportunities we’re now having.
He basically says seven things that are great.
Number one he says is embrace uncertainty and risk, rather than repeatibility.
Business have always been consistent to know their costs, their profits, everything.
They’re very consistent. But today, we have to have the ability to anticipate and adapt to change to beat competitors and excite customers.
Number two, he says is to get in sync with customers. How? By customer interaction. Seek direct customer feedback he says via social media and personal interactions rather than old market research.
Products and services should be updated continuously—not just a major annual upgrade. This is fast.
This is why all of this is so important. It’s why I’ve been emphasizing, if you’ve never done any content promotion or marketing or social media promotion—or social media interaction, you need to change with that and adapt.
Because, your methods of marketing have changed.
The print advertising you may have used to have done, or direct mail or email—all of that has changed.
Look at the postal service. You know, almost went out of business. What would that do to somebody who relied on direct mail? It forces you to change rapidly. Faster than your competitors, or they’re going to overtake you.
Number three—continually look outside for talent and technology.
We see that leveraging the capabilities outside of your organization can grow opportunities and reduce risk faster, rather than increasing risk.
Again, it’s keeping those antennas up and leveraging ideas and capabilities outside of your business. Because of these fast changes we’ve got to stay on top of things.
Number four he says, connect with and strengthen your customer ecosystem.
He suggests and talks about a lot of growth companies like Salesforce.com have leveraged value by hosting events and have their customers learn from each other, as well as channel partners and complementary host providers.
So, host events. Have, I guess—parties.
Whatever you feel to get your customers to share with one another.
To interact—and you’re hosting it.
You’re in front of your customers, which they’ll like—but you’re also providing a network—a means of education and learning. You’re the person behind it. And they’ll appreciate it. That’s part of the customer ecosystem.
Number five, create cross-functional teams to create opportunities.
This really is opening up the creativity of your employees. Enabling them to choose their own job, grant them leeway to get the work done.
They need that spark, particularly we’ve read a lot of stories about millennials and how to keep them involved.
This is part of the big thing. Giving them the tools to let their ideas jump out and expand, to get things done. To make them happy. It’s huge…it’s huge keeping your employees happy.
You can get learning, change—all of these things they can be involved with, and it gets them involved.
Number six, pursue growth opportunities outside of your comfort zone. Really, it’s learning new skills, make it a prime thing for every employee to learn a new skill.
Maybe it’s social media. Maybe it’s copywriting. Maybe it’s accounting. I don’t know, but whatever that is, let them cross-train, learn new skills, new talent. So they can be aware and on top of things to help you in this time of rapid change.
And finally he talks about, number seven—recognize the impact of trust on efficientcy and speed.
Take deliberate action to build trust. Be a personal role model. Encourage and develop healthy conflict, debate and dissent. The result is better discussions, more consensus and accelerated business growth.
And, show appreciation, on-going for each employees contributions. It’s huge.
They’ve got to trust you as a leader. But, how many times have you intervened in a brainstorming session? Or cut people off, not letting them finish their sentence?
Or not let them throw out their ideas? No idea is a bad idea. Not ridiculing what they say. Things like that?
You need to encourage debate. You need to encourage dissent and healthy conflict. That’s the only way to get new cutting edge ideas out and on the table. Because you’re allowing each individual persons’ values as well as their learning. And what they see.
It may only take one idea to change everything. And again, showing appreciation is huge. Whether it’s a weekly lunch, a gift card—whatever. That’s a huge thing. It’s a small price to pay to keep your employees happy.
And the objectives of these imperatives is to continuously stimulate fearless growth even in turbulent markets by staying more competitive, fostering innovation and dominating your space.
And…if you haven’t already done it, start.
That’s what I’ve been sharing with businesses I’ve talked to. People who have not only emailed me about these podcasts, but network events I’ve attended. It’s not too late to start, and it should’ve happened yesterday.
I had a prospect call me this week and I asked him, OK, what time frame are we talking about getting started and he said, “yesterday”.
I talked to him eight months ago and he didn’t have a website. This should have happened a year ago. Because of these turbulent times and how quick thiings can happen.
Few small business owners are thrilled when a competitor shows up and steal their thunder, much less their customers.
But competition is a way of life for any business owner.
From inventors to entrepreneurs, history is full of examples of others who have altered ideas to create new products, enhanced an already successful product or just flat out stole a patent or idea.
If an idea has merit–it will probably be copied or stolen at some point, so getting used to the competition is a by-product of success. Then again, some ideas will just plain flop (like the above Ford Edsel).
Today we’re going to talk about…and this is prompted by an email I got several weeks ago from a listener. His name is Don. And Don, I want to thank you for asking this question that prompted me to talk about all of this.
And by the way, if you do have questions or comments, feel free to email at email@example.com. And will feature it perhaps on the podcast. And answer some of your questions.
The Storms of the Competition, is what I’m entitling this podcast. How to prevent or maintain your business in spite of the competitors. It changes, and storms crop up every ten or fifteen minutes you have a severe thunderstorm and a warning. And it could wipe out your business. Or wipe out anything if you’re not prepared.
So, consider this sort of a siren test, the weather sirens for your small business to prepare against the competition!
And I know a lot of small businesses will say, there is no competition. There is competition. The competition is what is in the mind of the prospect. And you many times can’t control it. So, if you think you’re safe, you’re not.
And just today, as an example, Amazon just bought Whole Foods Market for $13.7 billion. Now, and this has been talked about all day long on Twitter and social media. Stocks have gone up and gone down. Things happen because of this.
But, you don’t this is going to be a game-changer for Walmart or any grocer in the country? You don’t think this is a storm that could wipe them out? Prices at Whole Foods could go down because of Amazon’s platform and delivery systems.
There’s a whole list of things we could talk about. This is a storm on behalf of Walmart and grocers that maybe they saw coming, maybe they didn’t.
This is kind of thing, that of course it’s going to be on a smaller scale for small business. But these are the things you may or may not anticipate. So, what can you do?
Well, there’s three key things I want to talk about. And again, when you think about price, like a lower price for like insurance? A good example of what I want to talk about is if you look at it or if you’ve seen on Twitter, at least I have been following them on Twitter, is Progressive Insurance.
With Flo—that’s their brand mascot. Flo—I like her, she’s funny. And that’s the purpose by the user—to get you to like her. So, here’s Flo and she’ll show up on Twitter. Maybe our price isn’t the lowest..we’re happy for you. You may have seen that with a couple of other competitors. Like when she’s in a beauty pageant—and she’s crying because she didn’t beat the price and that kind of stuff.
Well, Liberty Mutual…I saw this after Progressive started doing this with little ads on Twitter. Liberty Mutual now has “combine your insurance and save $761.” Or Progressive would say, “you could save up to $629” .
But that’s price. OK. Now that’s a problem, because you’re going to compete head-on with price. But, they’re consistently talking about their brand. In spite of price—and Progressive, I like the way they did it.
Well, maybe our price isn’t the lowest. But guess what? They’ve got a presence out there with a memorable message. And it’s funny. And I remember the beauty pageant. Flo is crying, she didn’t win. The other two women are waving, like they’re happy, they won. But they’re communicating their brand and message in spite of price.
And they’re even having fun with it. They admit that they might not always be number 1, but they’re consistently talking to prospects and customers by in this case, Twitter. That’s point number one. Consistently be talking to your customers and prospects is a way to fend off competition. Why? Well, think about it.
Maybe they are going to do something different. But if you’re consistently out there, and this is why next week I’m going to go over and more into this on the power of the blog. As a part of your marketing platform. Why you need one and why it’s so powerful. But you can shift your message because you have a consistent platform.
In this case, Progressive vs Liberty Mutual. You can consistently be talking to them. Building that brand relationship. That is huge for small businesses. Because, guess what? Most small businesses are lazy. They’re not going to be doing this.
This is what I tell prospects when I meet with them and I go through a powerpoint explaining step by step the marketing platform. Why all of this is important. And this is one big reason. So you won’t get run over by the competition when a storm erupts. If they do something you don’t expect, what are you going to do?
Well, you’ve got a pattern of consistently talking to your prospects and customers. You can now alter your message to shift when the competition does something. First point.
The second point: consistently provide or offer value. Again, you’ve got a message that you’re doing, on-going with prospects and customers through social media, advertising, however you’re doing it. Now you can shift and offer something. Maybe, now through June 30th you get something.
Whatever the offer is, is to counter your competition. And this is small business marketing. This is the way it is.
But with these platforms, you can build an on-going presence with the brand. And you can alter and shift it as needed. So, that’s point number two—consistently providing an offer or a value to compete, to stand out.
The third point; consistently stay top of mind. It goes hand in hand with the other two. Basically the fact—and I’m seeing these in talking about Liberty Mutual and Progressive—I see their posts everyday.
It’s got to a point now, I can tell you about them. I remember them and they’re in my mind now. Cause I’ve seen them everyday. They’re consistently keeping their brand in front of prospects.
So this is why this marketing platform and consistency is so important. If you’re a small business and you’re not doing this on a regular basis. Well, I don’t have the budget…how could you NOT do it? That’s my question.
Because you’re leaving yourself vulnerable. They only way to beat the competition is to stay one step ahead of them. I won’t go into it all now, but it’s the reason we recommend podcasts and video on your marketing platform with a blog, to have the edge…cutting edge, the latest stuff.
Now when artificial intelligence takes over, I guess that will be a whole other thing. I probably won’t be around to see it, and you may not either!
At any rate, those three things: consistently talk to your customers and prospects, make this a part of your marketing plan.
Consistently offer or provide more value to zig and zag with the competition. To prevent that storm from developing. And, as part of that, to answer your customers questions, needs or wants or any issues.
That will help you build brand loyalty with them. And finally, consistently staying top of mind.
Those three things are some really good ways to control those storms from the competition. To keep them at bay.
Because the things I’m suggesting to you that I found over the years, most small businesses don’t do. Again, I don’t want to be critical, but people are lazy.
They don’t want to make the effort or the investment. Do you have someone on your staff that handles your social media on a regular basis?
Everyday, each week of the year? If you don’t you should consider that. Or hire someone, freelance it or what ever you need. This is how important it is.
If it’s so important for a big company like Progressive to be on Twitter…maybe it’s important for small business too.
Because those platforms that are available level the playing field between huge corporations and small mom and pop businesses.
You can see what Steve Jobs said about what the web does, it’s a level playing field now.
Next week, I’m going to talk about why the blog is like nuclear fuel for your small business long term existence.
Nuclear fuel—that’s pretty big stuff. Why that blog will provide that for your small business long term existence. Be listening next week for that.
I wanted to talk to you today about the importance of a marketing platform for your small business. I know I brought this up before in a previous podcast, but I wanted to go into more detail today.
I was at a chamber coffee this morning talking to a young chiropractor. He was a member of a chiropractic team in the town I live in. We were actually kind of talking about this, and I went in and explained to him why this is so important.
They hired a marketing person. Plan to hire myself or someone to do their social media.
But, as we were talking about what elements make up this marketing platform, and his eyes kind of lit up. When I touched on some of this because he hadn’t really thought of it. He’s on their marketing board.And they weren’t even aware of it.
So, that’s why I want to go in to this. This is something I’m seeing quite a bit, to be honest with you.
Is a lack of understanding of the importance of a marketing platform for most small businesses.
They look at it like, not everybody, but I’m seeing this as an afterthought, a luxury. Ah, I can’t really afford this. It’s kind of a hassle. An afterthought.
So, five things you need to be aware of, of why a marketing platform is so critical to your business.
Imagine that we were out west, and there was an old saloon storefront. Facade. Like in an old western movie set.
And I come running out yelling at people, come on in. Check out our saloon! People come in and they go to the saloon. As they get closer, they realize there are no walls. And, there’s nothing in there!
It’s a facade! It’s a storefront movie set facade. There’s nothing there, except this frame. Well that’s kind of, maybe not a great analogy, but your online storefront is your website.
Now, whether you like it or not, that’s how people are perceiving businesses today. Think about your own experience. When you find a product in print, an email, TV, radio…whatever. You’re interested, what do you do? What’s the process?
It used to be ten or fifteen years ago, you’d get in your car, you might call them. Get in their car, go to the store and check it out. Do you do that today? Probably not.
My guess is, you’re going to grab your smartphone, and say, Hey, Siri—show me where I can get fifty percent off pizzas. Or the closest Pizza Hut.
Because I just saw their ad on TV.
And you can probably order it through your phone. You’re not going to get up and go to the Pizza Hut. Because of the conveniences today. The technology platform
And the same is true of a lot of services. You might end up going to that site. And what are you going to do when you get to that site? You’re going to check them out. Customer testimonials, services they offer. Products featured. Does it match what you thought?
All those sort of things. That’s the online storefront. That’s why a website is so important. And a quality website. It’s got to look good, because that’s your branding.
I talk about the marketing platform, in our three part strategy. But it’s your branding that you’re selling. The image you’re selling. This is why all of this is so important.
If you’re a small business, and you don’t have one, what are people going to do? What are they going to think? Those are the two things that you have to control.
Why do you have to do this? What’s your competition doing? Do you think they’re sitting on the sideline not doing this? Or haven’t considered it?
So, unless you’ve got a line of referrals…banging on the door to come in and give money to you. You need to consider a solid marketing platform.
So the first point, it’s your online storefront. This is how people are doing business today. It starts with searching most likely. Do that or keyword search and they want to check you out, is really what it comes down to.
The second feature of the marketing platform, is a blog. Well, we don’t have a blog. We don’t think it’s important. Well, it’s real important because it’s your sales people. Now again, go back to the saloon.
Let’s switch that to say a general store. A come out and yell, hey come here and check out these axes we have. Great for chopping wood! Blah, blah, blah. They come to the storefront and they see, through the window, beautiful axes, all lined up, all on display.
Beautiful items. Goods. Whatever. Now they want to go in the store. Because it matches what I described and they get to see the product. They see it.
Ok. Well, this is what a blog is. It’s the sales people bringing in the people with stuff you know have to show them.Yes, you have pages about who you are. But not real in-depth.
That’s where the blog comes in. They see one point after another of your content of expertise. And it usually could be, should be through an engaging medium. Like a video, a podcast.
And that’s why we recommend those two things. Because it’s engaging. It grabs your attention. It’s not just one-thousand words to read.
Not that that is not important. Because it is, because Google will search things. But you want to grab and sell them your service or your product. So the blog acts as a sales storefront.
Next point, number three. I’m going to call it—it provides for a resident place to direct media to. When I do an ad on Facebook, TV, print, radio, email marketing. What are you doing? You want to direct them somewhere. Where are you going to send them? Come by our storefront, here’s our address if you get a chance. It doesn’t do a very good job of selling if you just give them a business card.
But if you give them a website, they go visit that and then they can SEE. Yeah, check out blog #5. It’s talking about what you and I were just talking about out at the chamber coffee. Oh! Now they have a chance to be sold. Because they’re engaged in the content you’re offering them on your blog.
And again, they’re going to compare this to who? Your competition. See how this makes you stand out from the crowd? You have a mechanism to direct people through your advertising.
And outreach to them to come in to your storefront and SEE everything you’re all about…and tell your story.
That’s what this is. And how many small businesses don’t have a mechanism with which to tell their story?
Point number four, and this is real important from the search engine standpoint. It allows you to provide fresh content, each week, to highlight your expertise. With engaging content.
I call it engaging…i’m referring to podcasting, videos…things that cause people to want to watch or listen and experience…as opposed to just reading.
Ok? And this separates you again from your competition! Because the probably, may or may not be doing podcasts, or even know how to produce them or even want to produce them. Or even have the resources for them.
Or produce videos. SEE the difference? You’re doing something…yeah, it takes some work. But guess what? It’s permanent.
You just have to do it once a week, and it’s there on your skeletal platform…your marketing platform to constantly promote.
You’ve got meat, flesh and bones.
And the fifth reason, it provides on-going, keyword search relevance through Google search engines.
Not that a website won’t, yeah, you’ve got a lot of words on the website. Relevant words hopefully to what you’re promoting. But the blog extends all of that. Every week you’re adding content.
And you’re doing this so that you’re selling your prospects. But you’re also getting the back end deal here.
Google is searching it…and suddenly, when people type in keywords, you’re pages of the blog start to come up.
And all of this is relevant to what they’re looking for. It narrows it down in their mind of who they should do business with.
Because now, when they visit your storefront on the web, and see your blog and all of the content that you have…they become engaged with you.
Now they want to go. You’ve ignited some passion here of your knowledge and expertise!
Do you SEE the difference? And this is why it’s important to have a good, solid marketing platform. And on-going fresh content.
It’s an on-going thing to market yourself. You’re always selling. What was that line Alec Baldwin said in Glengerry, Glenross? Always be selling! Always be selling (closing)!
Nothing happens until someone sells something! Ok, so that’s why it’s so important to have a good marketing platform.
It’s on that infographic here on the blog. You can see how it all integrates together. And this is new.
This is the new way we’re doing business. It’s critical for small businesses to get this. And don’t just through it out there as an add-on. This is critical to selling yourself for future.