Well, now that I have a [rare] spare moment in my life, I’m coming back with an actual post. I’m almost two months into my new job, and I have to say, it’s been a really great experience so far. This is actually my first paid, salaried position anywhere, ever, and although it definitely has its challenges, I’ve learned so much about how to develop the presence of a brand in the marketplace, and how to connect with consumers.
So, if you’re a small-business owner in a localized or even regional market, here are some things I can share with you.
1. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. I have to say, I’m very glad I was brought on to this position by the management, not only because I’m happy to be working, but because it showed their understanding of their current situation. They’re a firm that’s been in existence for almost forty years, and so far, they’ve been very successful going by just word-of-mouth. However, they realized recently that they needed to grow the business, and do so through different avenues because 2014.
Enter yours truly, the Marketing Director. It hasn’t been long, but so far we’ve gotten on social media, made appearances at Chamber of Commerce mixers and other local functions, we’re planning an Open House in September and a very classy Client Appreciation event in October, and we’re about to launch a beautiful new website. On top of that, people are beginning to recognize our presence in the business community, which is really the point of all that we’re doing.
If you want people to know who you are, you’ll have to step outside your comfort zone a little bit and put yourself out there. Don’t be shy. The greatest reward doesn’t come without risk. Specifically, if you have worries about connecting with others in public, please refer to my February 14 post about what to do at a networking event. In that post, I also recommend a book by Bob Burg that discusses good networking tips.
2. Don’t be afraid to spend money. Putting yourself out there requires more than your time at events, however. Like anything, you have to give a little to get a little. In the case of marketing, however, it might not be “a little”. Some companies spend hundreds upon thousands of dollars on advertising and marketing when they first set out, and many times, they don’t see a huge return on investment. But you don’t have to be one of those companies. Instead, you can put your eggs into a few choice baskets, based on where your highly-targeted clients frequent and the messages that would resonate with them. Then, once you get some money back into the pipeline, you can increase your budget and expand your marketing into more avenues. I can’t give you an exact dollar amount of my budget, but let’s say that if you’re just starting out and you’ve been in business for a while, shoot for a budget between $10,000 and $20,000. That should be enough to get you started with ads in a few newspapers, collateral production, hosting events, and anything else you think is suitable. Don’t worry – if you play your cards right, that number can only grow.
To begin, I would definitely recommend making the investment in a full-time marketing and PR professional. If you have the money to dedicate towards a salary, you can then give this person all responsibility for marketing, and they’ll be better-versed in it than you are. Granted, you should still be familiar with basic principles, since they’ll be devising strategy with you, but for the most part, this person will be responsible for the tactics that’ll help you grow. So you don’t have to worry about it. That’s a very good thing.
3. Content is king. I know that’s a beaten-down cliché, but seriously, if you have content to share, give it away, give it away, give it away, now, in the words of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Particularly in the case of financial services, clients will come to you on the basis of your experience and expertise, so why not give them a taste of what they’d get if they partook of your services? If you’ve got the knowledge to give, spread it far and wide. If a potential client isn’t ever in the position to shake your hand and chat with you, reading a blog post, column, or article with your insight in it is the next best thing for him and you.
4. Finally, have fun with it. This is marketing, after all. It’s a way for you to connect to the people with whom you want to connect, and you can do it in any way you want. Don’t try to be “artsy” about it if you don’t want to. It’s all about what your consumers want from you, so listen to them closely and diffuse their preferences into your marketing. What they have to say may surprise you. And what you’re able to accomplish may surprise you, too.
If you want to know more about how to invest in marketing for the first time, let me know. I’m always happy to help.
Great talking to you again! Hope to see you again soon.