Several months ago, I blogged on www.danindemand.com about the “lost” feeling many business owners experience when it comes to the ever-changing media landscape. The advertising world surely hasn’t slowed since then, and I thought it would be a good idea to revisit a few ideas that could help.
So, let’s shed the “lost” feeling by considering this list of ten things you as a local business owner/leader can do to stay ahead:
1. Define your value proposition, your specialization and differentiation from others. Your audience may know you practice law, but do they know you have 20 years of experience specializing in estate planning? That you are a restaurant with a famous marinara recipe that hasn't changed for over 50 years? That you are a car mechanic who will honestly tell you when it's time to trade in the old clunker rather than fix it? Knowledge by your audience of your expertise and/or specialty could separate you from the rest of the pack!
2. Think about who the next person is to likely walk through your door. Who are they, what do they look like and what are their interests. Then ask yourself, “who do I want the next person to walk through my door to be?” If they are very different, you may be looking at different or a brand new marketing strategy.
3. Use media experts when at all possible – talk to traditional advertising outlets and/or advertising agencies. Don’t rely just on what you know or what you think your competition knows, as sometimes it’s the blind leading the blind and everyone can wind up “lost.” And sure, you can roam the internet looking for the answers, but what if you’re not asking the right questions? If you already perceive TV as being too expensive, are you going to check there for your options? You don’t see your competition using Social Media – does that mean you shouldn’t consider it? Done right, and you will have your competition following your lead.
4. Assess the state of your current advertising efforts (here is a Marketing Heath Assessment you can use). Get an idea for what others are doing, not just in your industry.
5. Want to lose less sleep over your current advertising efforts? Step one is to consider ALL advertising options – yes, even the oddest of odd (I even once looked at advertising space inside city Department of Motor Vehicle buildings!) Remember, options are valuable – be aware of as many as possible! Don’t discount things like sponsoring local events (i.e. – High School plays, sports teams). Again, a media expert can REALLY help here.
6. Don’t assume you know all there is to know. This is a big deal, for example - you may have met with Broadcast TV and assume you need to buy an entire city in order to get on TV, but did you know with Cable TV you may have options to buy far smaller and specific areas closer to your place of business? And on very specific networks aimed at your demographic? Advertising keeps evolving – keep asking questions.
7. This is often the toughest for a local business owner with limited resources: Please exercise advertising patience – if you commit to something for three months, don’t bail after three days, or even three weeks. Stick with the plan – it will take time for a strategy to pay dividends. And at the same time…
8. Measure what’s working – at the very least survey your customers, even if it means knocking a % off the sale at the point of purchase to get that feedback. Their contact information alone can be worth the sale price! Nathan Furr and Paul Ahlstrom, co-authors of the book ‘Nail It, Then Scale It’, said it best: Which would you rather do — talk to customers now and find out you were wrong or talk to customers a year and thousands of dollars down the road and still find out you were wrong?”
9. If anyone tells you “traditional” is dead, run the other way. Likewise, if you hear that new media is “unproven” and to stay away, second guess them too. Your strategy should have a blend of the two.
10. Let Social be your friend – and once you start it don’t ignore it EVER! It’s where you get to wear both a marketing and customer service hat at the same time.