Marketing has long been looked at as this complex (which it can be) and terrifying thing by so many small business owners, but it doesn't have to be. There are people with advanced degrees in marketing that for some reason just never got what really makes for successful marketing and people who have very little experience in the field altogether that are phenomenal at marketing. I know the secret of the phenoms and I am going to share it with you because when you take away content, you take away fluff, and you strip marketing to it's barest bones, there are two things that really truly matter and they are super duper easy to add into whatever marketing you have going on right now. I'm not talking about an overhaul of anything and everything you've been working so very, very hard on. I'm talking about little things that can make a huge impact. And who doesn't love little work with big results? I know I do. So enough blabbering, let's get to the good stuff.
Value, Value, Value
The number one thing you can do for yourself when it comes to marketing is add value to everything. I mean everything. From the way that you email your customers to the experience that they have after the purchase is made. Every step of your process, user experience, and interactions with your customers and audience should provide value to them. You have something that no one else has no matter how saturated your market is (hi, I'm in a super saturated market). You have a perspective and experiences that are uniquely yours. This adds value. So you may be asking at this point, "Well how do I provide value in every interaction and experience when I need to make a sale?" The answer to this is pretty simple. Stop chasing that dollar. Adding value to every aspect of your business is going to make the dollars chase you. I know how crazy that sounds, but if someone trusts you, if someone needs what you have, and if you have made them feel like they are the only customer that you are dealing with at any given time, then you are going to make people get that coveted, "SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY" feeling. It's not about making a sale anymore. Of course, bills must be paid and food must be bought, but it's not about the number of sales anymore if you want to be truly successful. It's about how your customer feels. It's about what you can do for them. It's about how you resonate with them a day, a week, a month later.
Crazy Little Thing Called "Reciprocity"
No one likes to admit it, but everyone feels an obligation. We are obligated to get cousin Christie a graduation gift even though the last time we saw her, she was missing teeth. We are obligated to wear that terrible sweater nana knitted seemingly from the cat itself. We are obligated to wait in line instead of just walking up to the counter to get coffee. We are bound by society by social and emotional obligations every single day.
Fun exercise. Stick a post it to the back of your phone for 24 hours. Every time you fulfill an obligation, make a tick mark. Every time you do something, take that beat and ask yourself if itwas something that you wanted to do, or if it was something that was expected of you. The results will blow your mind.
That, my friend, is where reciprocity comes into play. How big of a [insert your insult of choice] do you feel like when someone gets you a gift and you don't have one for them. Yikes! That is an awful feeling. But this same principle can be applied to marketing. See, when you provide value, your customer feels that obligation to give something in return. This could be anything from a like on your social media to their email for your list or even their hard-earned dollar bills. That thing that you have offered them (an information packed blog post, a free printable, or even a shout out on the right channel) will awaken that ugly sweater wearing part of them that requires that they do something for you. And the old saying is all too true. The more you give, the more you get. The more valuable your offering to your audience, the more they trust you and want to react in kind.
Adding Value to Your Existing Process
Like I said earlier, you don't have to overhaul everything to add value. In fact, it's the little touches that add value to a process. For example, I have always really liked the idea of personal service. I can provide someone an intimate experience, even over the web, and make them feel as important as they are to me. I answer every email that hits my inbox personally. And I plan on doing to for the rest of my life. Getting back a message that says, "Mrs. McHugh is thrilled that you are interested in working with her…" is crap! That doesn't make me look like I have an assistant. It makes me look like an ass! If you're emailing me, you obviously want to talk to me. I make sure to acknowledge that in every communication I send out to you. That adds value. You reading this are important to me and I want to make sure that you feel that way. Everything you do, every product you make, every email you answer, every meeting you sit through, the person that you are interacting with wants to feel validated and valued. They all want something that you can provide to them. This is where your value comes in.
The Second Must Have
The second must have for successful marketing is probably the easiest thing ever. Every effort that you make should be measurable. You are a small business boss who wears more hats than could have been found in a twentieth-century outdoor party and you don't have time to screw around. Everything you do has to be done with intent and you need to know whats working, whats not, and if that change that you made is making a difference. If you are not keeping track of your efforts, then you are not going to be able to tell what those things are and chances are if something isn't working, you're not going to be able to fix it. You can't fix what you can't pinpoint. And you can't pinpoint what you don't measure. Honestly, today's social media platforms, websites, and pretty much every other digital bit of marketing you do can be measured either within platform analytics (Twitter, Squarespace, Pinterest, etc.) or by an external analytics program (Statcounter, Google Analytics, etc.) so really there is no reason to not know what's going on. Nearly everything is built for you to track the performance of nearly everything that you publish so you need to be taking full advantage of that.
Quick note. At the time I posted this, Instagram does not have built in analytics. This is where an external analytics program comes in handy. I personally don't use Instagram as a marketing outlet. I use it as a branding piece. It is where I can connect with my target audience and get my name in front of people. It's a visibility tool for me. Not a marketing tool. But exposure is super important, so don't neglect this kind of platform entirely.
So You're Measuring, But What To Do With The Data
So you have all these ways that you're getting data and you see the numbers and think, "Ok so now what?" Well, this is actually as complex or as simple as you want it to be. What are your current goals? How does this data relate to them? If your goal is to boost traffic to your website, then you need to be looking at the number of visitors, pageviews and bounce rates. If your goal is to make more sales (if you have gotten this far in this post, then you need to be asking yourself if this is the best goal to have) then you should be looking at your number of sale versus the number of people that make it to your website and go through your sales funnel and where they are dropping out. Aligning your goals with the data is what you should be focusing on. Not sure how to do that? Check this post about goals out and be ready to be wowed.
How It All Goes Together
If you've made it this far, then you are aware of how important both measurable efforts and adding value are. These are the two biggest things you can do to help yourself and your business grow. They walk hand in hand and provide you and your customer with a way to feel validated and needed. Your customer gets the warm fuzzy feeling that your amazing, value-packed process has given them. You are getting valuable information from your measurable efforts that tell you where your value may need some help. The biggest thing you need to remember about all of this is that value and measurement are the cornerstones of building a more valuable experience for your audience and customers. This is an evolution, not a static practice, so this should always be in development. (Think create, measure, tweak, rinse, repeat.) A great place to start developing or redeveloping this process for yourself is to get your free Value Kickstart Guide and start tweaking. Any questions, comments, concerns, let me know in the comments. I'll make my best effort to answer any and all.