Mastering Your Marketing

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Our blog theme for the month of August is marketing. We know that many business owners struggle with how best to market their business — and how to find the time to devote to it. This week, Amy McCartney of Grand Rapids’ very own BOXBOOM offers some questions and advice to help business owners like you feel more confident in your marketing pursuits.

Like what you see? Want to learn more? Sign up for GROW’s next marketing workshop series (September 6, 13, and 20). The series is designed to equip you with the tools and knowledge you need to market your business successfully. The first class will be led by BOXBOOM’s owner, Julie Lankes.

The Who/What/Why’s of Mastering Your Marketing

You’ve brainstormed the perfect business idea, secured a bank loan, leased an office space, and taken care of the hundreds of other details needed to successfully launch your business. But now you’re faced with the eternal question: How do I brand and market myself to connect with new clients and buyers?

Marketing your business doesn’t have to be a Herculean task, but it does require you to ask the right questions, answer honestly, and take the leap from ideas to action. We’ve pulled together six questions to help transform you from branding neophyte to marketing maven.

1) WHO Is Your Audience? (And WHO Isn’t Your Audience?)

One of the most common marketing misunderstandings is the belief that a business has to say everything and be everything to everyone. Having too wide of a message is as ineffective to a brand as not having a message at all.

Ask yourself who your target audience is – and who are they not – as the answers will supply the best information to craft a distinct, clear, and concise voice and brand.   

2) WHAT Is Your Audience’s Day Like?

You’ve identified your target audience. Now ask, what is their day like? Where do they live and work? What are some of their biggest challenges and concerns? What do they value? Take those answers and determine how your business or product offers solutions to your audience.

3) WHERE Is Your Audience Going to Find You?

Is your ideal customer going to visit your brick-and-mortar shop? Are they going to make a purchase from your online store? Might they do both? Knowing where your clients will find you will allows you to choose the right marketing platform and vehicle to convey your clear branding message.

Brick-and-mortar shops may benefit from printed signs and local print ads. Online shops will likely require strategic SEO and a savvy website. Every business is different, and there is not a One Size Fits All marketing approach. Knowing where your clients will find you can save time, money, and effort when selecting your marketing vehicles.

4) WHEN Is Your Target Audience Shopping for Your Services?

Is your service or product seasonal? Is there a “best time” to buy, either during a specific time of day or specific time of year? Cater your messaging to speak to the timeliness of your client’s needs. Understanding the “when” of your target audience may also dictate your business’s hours of operations and availability.

5) WHY Should Your Audience Choose You?

Here’s where your brand’s clear, concise, and consistent message comes into play. If you have an easy-to-understand product, a memorable logo, and an enticing tagline – and you use it consistently through all your marketing efforts – people will take note, talk to you, talk about you, and help create a referral network.

6) HOW Do You Connect to Your Audience?

Are you active on social media? Do you love providing in-store tutorials? Would you prefer clients to call or email you? Are you overwhelmed by the feeling that you have to be everywhere at once in order to get in front of your target audience?

The key, again, is not to try to be everything to all people but to identify your top two or three marketing and advertising initiatives and do them really well. Running print ads in 20 publications will burn through a limited budget, and it rarely works as well as buying one ad in the right magazine read by your dream client.