The Small Business Stack
As I write this, we are all coming out of (we hope) COVID-19, self-quarantines, city lockdowns, mass unemployment and business closures. Talking about Marketing may seem out of touch with reality, but unless our world is about to go wholly socialist, I assure you, you will never be able to stop marketing yourself.
So WHAT Are The Basics?
The basics of marketing, the foundation, the “stack”! There is, in fact, a basic list. The list is this:
a crystal clear offer
a way to drive traffic to your offer
show proof that you are legitimate
Those are the three main categories! How you are going to accomplish this is a mix and match game.
Where to describe your OFFER:
How to drive TRAFFIC to your offer:
Telling people yourself (Direct Marketing)
How to show SOCIAL PROOF:
Social Media comments
That’s Great But Just Tell Me What To Do!
Hey, I get it. You have no time, you do not want to slow down to learn, you simply need some answers and you want them now. I have only met a handful of small business owners over the past 10 years who wish to sit down and learn marketing. They are now the most successful owners I know, but not everybody has that desire to learn from the ground up, I get that.
The Small Business Stack:
Here is the “Small Business Stack” of the bare minimum of Apps, Ads and Actions that you will need to move forward:
Make sure you follow the adage, “You confuse, you lose.” Make sure people know what you are offering! The offer you want to sell needs to be clearly on your homepage, with a clear call-to-action (ie. Contact Me button). Reviews or testimonials are key, and a link to all the various levels of pricing for what you offer is important as well. What website you need depends on you, but as much as possible, use something with modern code and future-proof design, such as Squarespace. Other platforms that will work are Wix, WordPress, and Shopify for e-commerce. (A quick word of advice, do NOT use WordPress as your server. Get a private server, or use GoDaddy and just install WordPress on your domain.)
Now almost 80% of the Western World are on Facebook several times a day. You may hate the idea of a Facebook Page, but unfortunately, you just don’t have a choice. You should pay attention to your Page every day until you have about 3,000 Page Likes.
Believe it or not, there ARE some businesses who don’t need an Instagram account, but the vast majority of business owners would highly benefit from creating lifestyle content. You should pay attention to your account every day until you have about 2,000 followers.
Your email list is pure gold. MailChimp is still the easiest platform to understand, integrate and use. This is where the people who like you the MOST can be found. Treat them well, provide excellent content, and they will buy when they are ready. You need about 2,000 people on your list and a way for people to sign up through your website.
If you do not have a physical location for your business, you will certainly be spending a great deal of time on Zoom or GoToMeetings. Zoom is showing signs of server overload, so GoTo might be the best app by the time you read this.
Business Cards + Rack Cards: IF you have a PHYSICAL LOCATION, you need to put some brochures in some places. Print is not totally dead. Get some Rack Cards made up, or postcards if that makes more sense to you, and drop these off at a Tourist Kiosk, or a local hotel, or even just have on hand for when you do a live event.
In-Person Opportunities to Talk About Yourself: Join a MeetUp group, offer a free seminar, go to a trade show, introduce yourself at a friend’s event…do something, ANYTHING, to get in front of people. During the pandemic, this is actually easier: lots of groups are meeting up on Zoom.
Partnerships: If you have not spent any time “adding strands to your bow,” as one of my clients recently said, you are not going to grow. We are social creatures, we want to support each other. Find your tribe and cross-promote! Do it with an official partnership that involves kick-backs to see some real loyalty.
Ad Spend: Spend money on Facebook Ads, Google Ads, or on getting a billboard up, a sign made on bus stop bench, on the side of a bus, just SPEND MONEY. If you are not spending about $1000 per month for even a very small business, you are not seeing growth. That is the starting point. Most small businesses I know spend about $200 per month and see flat growth curves. There is no way around the ad spend. It is key to your survival.