I’ve worked with a lot of entrepreneurs over the years. I’m an entrepreneur myself. I have to do the same things you do, and chances are I struggle with the same things most of you do.
Most of the time, with one or two exceptions, entrepreneurs start their own business because they’re really good at something, and really passionate about it. It might be landscaping gardens, or baking pastries, or manufacturing the world’s best mousetrap.
What they usually don’t have is a whole lot of experience or knowledge about running a business, BEING a business. So the business doesn’t grow and make them money, not because their product or service isn’t great but because their marketing isn’t great. No one is going to buy that world’s best mousetrap if they don’t know about it – and if you can’t convince them that not only do they need a mousetrap, they need YOUR mousetrap!
Marketing, successful marketing, is the foundation of your business growth. It’s the platform that everything else sits on. If it isn’t strong and stable, your business can’t grow.
In the previous article in this series I talked about Looking Inward: how the first stage in business clarity is seeing a clear reflection of yourself.
This second step is all about Looking Outward: getting very clear about your market and your message.
Here in Calgary where I live, we get really cold winters. Your car windows get fogged up, even iced over. To drive safely, you have to clear that ice and fog in order to see out the windows. I’m kind of a fanatic about cleaning all my windows in the winter because I hate not being able to see! I also clean my glasses a lot. I want to see what’s in front of me!
So this next phase of your marketing strategy is all about clearing the fog away so you can see out clearly. Remember, even though the first phase as all about you, and specifically the YOU your clients will want to connect with, you have to FIND them to connect with them!
This “looking outward” stage helps you define and document things like this:
- Your brand, which is what makes you distinct from everyone else. It’s the personality of your company and the perceived value that resides in the minds of your target market. So in this phase you’d look at what experience you want them to have every time they hear about you or see your logo or your products. Each of those interactions – your business card, your website, your brochure, your Facebook profile, each of your marketing bits, really – is called a “touch” point. You want to make sure those touch points leave the right impression.
- Your audience. You’ve probably heard about how you have to define your niche market. Then there’s the marketer who says, no, you don’t need a niche, you need to define your ideal client. Personally, I think you need both: defining your ideal client will define exactly who you want to work with – but defining your target market, your niche, defines where you’ll find them.
While you’re figuring out who they are, you also start figuring out exactly how you serve them, which is really what problems you can solve for them. That leads into figuring out how you will attract them, which is what marketing is, right? And that leads into the next piece:
- Your offerings. Whether you have a product-based or a service-based business, you OFFER something to your clients. By now you have a very clear picture of who they are, where they are, what they want, what they need, and what language they’ll respond to, and so you can tailor your offerings, and the language you use to describe those offerings, to respond to the emotions they have around their problems or pain points and tell them how you can help them solve those problems, which is the value that you bring.
This is exactly the same process I work through with my clients and for myself, whenever I want to change something in my business, or add something new. And the funny thing is that quite often I get to this point and realise that the language I used to describe myself in Phase 1 doesn’t match the language I’m using to describe my offerings now that I have a better handle on who I’m offering them to!
So it’s back to Phase 1, and take another look inward, before moving on to Phase 3, putting all of these pieces together into your website.