Business marketing is being used and abused, especially in the freelance sphere right now. It’s like jumping a minefield of courses that cry out to have the magic eight ball of marketing futures ready to show you a bright future.
There’s a lot of pressure to work to a formula. So much so that when you seek to find the baseline, you may unwittingly find yourself simply repeating what others do. Your business and creative ideas are meant to stand out. That’s what gets you audience and autonomy in the long run.
Here’s how to make sure your business stays original in a world enamoured with beige and make your business marketing stand out for reals, yo
Solve a problem
A lot of people get into business because they want independence. They don’t want to work for someone else and they want to explore ideas. They see a market fit and then start a business. Or they enjoy a certain level of skill that lends itself to making money.
This is fine to a point, but it won’t get you where you need to go completely.
You must solve a problem.
That doesn’t mean you have to climb into tights and start saving the world. A problem-solving exercise might be to streamline a process, satiate a sweet tooth or make someone feel grand. It’s that you are thinking more of the customer and what they need as opposed to how you fit into the scheme of things.
Think about what you do that the others don’t and tell the world. Share that message consistently and openly. Make the centre of your business marketing to be associated with the problem you solve for your customers.
Be selfish when it’s required
A lot of people want a business to do anything and everything. However, you need to be selfish and direct about what you offer. Don’t be afraid to have a niche or to reflect it in your business marketing.
What do I mean when I say selfish in business terms?
Build a fence around your business and have a focus. Make sure your marketing is clear that what you offer is exactly that.
You can link to other suppliers to fill gaps. Learn to say no to unreasonable requests.
Don’t be caught up in the mythology that you have to always be on, always available and a well of knowledge, ideas and support without boundaries. You’re only going to set yourself up for exhaustion that way.
Customers benefit from having strong boundaries as it helps set their expectations. If you meet the boundaries and the expectations, it’s so much better than flopping around and changing. Inconsistency kills customer service, business relationships and makes even the best business marketing fall flat.
Your aim should be to minimise the gap between what you say you do and what your customer receives at every turn.
It’s OK to say no to the things that don’t directly (or indirectly) service your plans. Or to people that have another agenda that doesn’t suit your business.
Connect instead of sell
The difficulty a lot of business owners have is they believe to speak to customers, you need to speak in sales language and sales funnel terms. It’s the language of the deal, scarcity and having the right clicking button that allegedly drives a sale.
Sure, if you sell an immediate product with instant benefit, this might be wonderful. Most of us don’t fall into that category.
Think about these questions in relation to your business marketing for a moment:
- What if you are the sort of product or service people want to think about?
- What if you cater to customers that like to research?
- Are you a big investment of time and money that needs to provide surety?
- Are your customers slow burning?
- Is what you sell a new idea that needs some additional explanation and time for the concept to sink in?
- Do you want return customers?
- Do you want good word of mouth, even before a purchase is made?
Humans are suspicious of neatly packaged sales drivel. We make fun of it. What we really need is to feel like we’re empowered by the choices we make. We want consistency.
To gain empowerment and consistency of message, you need to connect.
How do you connect with customers?
- Be real, fragile and authentic. Find a voice that sets a unique position and don’t be afraid to share it
- Be a little bit bloody humble. Have boundaries, share the short-comings, show your limitations and you’ll appear more like real life then a cardboard cut-out
- Drop the playing nice routine. Customers like you to be professional, but that doesn’t mean you have to be a doormat. Again, have boundaries and personality. Don’t paste on the happy smile that is both deceptive and plastic
Think about the kinds of people you want to attract to your business and make it easy for them to get to know you. Be playful yet informative. Comfortable yet helpful. Be warm without being overly familiar. Think about people coming into your business realm as an experience to relax rather than a formal setting.
Embrace diversity and difference
One of the greatest failings we visit upon ourselves is to look at people in terms of “left” and “right” or “male” and “female” or whatever labels we want to stick on them. People are so much more than a series of arbitrary labels. Thinking every idea you’ve ever had has to be mirrored in your customers or friends or community is hubris of the highest order.
We’re different and diverse for a great reason. It’s because diversity means strength.
When you distil customers into personas, you might be targeting them better for sales and marketing efforts. And you may also be reducing your capacity to cater to the nuance people feel within themselves.
It’s important to recognise that if we gentrify our consumers the way we gentrify suburbs, we suck the difference and joy out of them.
You need to be more to people with your business marketing than polish and plastic. Stand for something. Be edgy and inexplicably wonderful on occasion.
And don’t forget that people have far more layers then human structures like business often allow for.
We talk in entering new market segments. You don’t have to enter segments like a conqueror moving forth to new lands is to cater to diversity and entice as part of the marketing process.
It’s a careful balance of not being a product for everyone (and therefore no-one) coupled with a lack of narrow thinking that leads to exclusion.
Be flexible enough in your business to provide policies that welcome people outside your scope.
Stand out for the right reasons
Want to be sure about your business’ target market while nailing down connection, communication and the problem you solve?