Nearly every day I’m hearing from a small business owner who is frustrated because their marketing isn’t working.
There are two primary causes for small business marketing fails:
Lack of investment
Old Marketing Strategies
Many small business owners struggle to invest time or money into their marketing, and it results in failed marketing. No matter what marketing you’re doing, marketing requires investment. Either money or time (often both), but marketing never works without an investment.
But I’m primarily going to address old marketing strategies/ideas and the future of marketing.
As you might imagine, old marketing strategies are obsolete. So instead of diving into those strategies today, I’m going to break down a few of the strategies that work in today’s marketing.
Strategy #1: Community Based Engagement
Marketing doesn’t work like it used to: it is now closely connected to community.
It used to be that you could print up a flyer, pass them out, put up a poster, and people would come to you because they saw what you do. Competition was scarce, so marketing didn’t have to be complicated. But that was long before people began being inundated with hundreds of messages a day, by companies that they don’t give a crap about.
Right now? We must stand out and find a community of people (a network) that like us and want to buy from us. And yes, there are people who want to buy from you!
Harley Davidson is phenomenal at Community Based Engagement!
I know this because I pitched a Harley Davidson dealership back in my corporate days. As I was working through my presentation, the lady in charge stopped me half way through and said “this isn’t going to work for us.”
First off, I was shocked but I was a little annoyed she had stopped me and hadn’t let me finish. So my first response was “How do you know this isn’t going to work for you? You didn’t let me finish the presentation”
I will always remember the look she gave me and what she said:
“Harley doesn’t let us do most traditional advertising. Even if we use a billboard, there are only a few billboards we’re allowed to use and that’s pretty much it. So this particular pitching program isn’t going to work for us.”
What I’ve realized since that conversation is that Harley has built a network and community. Rather than relying on traditional marketing and advertising methods (flyers, billboards, sales and coupons, TV/Radio ads, etc.), they created a community of people to buy into.
In other words, when you buy a Harley Davidson you’re not buying the fastest motorcycle on the road. Most people don’t even consider it the most attractive motorcycle. When you buy a Harley Davidson, you’re buying a ticket into the community of people just like you. These people love Harley Davidson and everything they stand for, so other customers are the kinds of people they want to be around and associated with.
If that’s not a clear enough example, think of how Apple has done the same thing. People who buy Apple products connect to each other over their products, because Apple sells to such a specific kind of person.
Whatever you are doing in your marketing, it’s time to start looking at how to create a community like Apple and Harley Davidson. Figure out who your community is, what you want in your community and what you want to stay outside of it. Decide on those aspects, and work on marketing from the perspective of an extremely focused community of people that you connect with. Otherwise you’ll be left behind in the world of marketing and business.
Strategy #2: Uplifting Marketing
Tell me if you recognize this kind of ad:
You see an older, overweight man watching young joggers running through the park and suddenly there’s a flashback to his most recent family gathering.
He feels unable to participate in the parts of life that he loves because he’s overweight and isn’t strong or healthy enough to play with his grandchildren or mow his own lawn. He’s lonely because his weight keeps him from finding love again after his wife died, and he hates his life because he’s overweight. But then, (Fill in the blank) product comes along and he loses a ton of weight!
Suddenly his life is 100% better and he’s completely happy because this product made him better and is the only way he could be happy.
For the longest time, it has worked for people to put out marketing like this. Marketing that makes your prospects feel like absolute crap and tore them down. Told mothers they weren’t the right kind of mom if they weren’t using this product. Told teenagers they weren’t cool enough unless they were wearing this kind of hoodie.
Marketing used to be all about making people feel terrible so they bought your product to make themselves feel better.
But people have gotten smarter, as have business owners. We all know that if someone can only sell products by making their clients feel atrocious, maybe the clients don’t need that crap. Maybe those products aren’t even needed on the market.
People recognize their own value and worth now, and aren’t letting ads and marketing tell them otherwise.
So more brands have realized this and started the positive shift to uplifting marketing. This is the kind of marketing that says “Hey, you’re amazing! Let me make your life even better because you deserve it!” Because when you can make your prospects feel amazing, they will love you for it and likely bring along some of their friends.
The goal with marketing is no longer to make people feel bad about themselves. The goal with marketing is to help people realize their potential and the value that your product can add to their life, particularly your target market.
So find ways of conveying your marketing message (read about what your marketing message is here!) in a way that uplifts your prospective clients!