I was invited to speak at an event recently, which was a great opportunity to share my passion for small business marketing with a wider audience.

It got me reminiscing about the first time I ever presented in my capacity as owner of ZHR Marketing.

It was the first time that ZHR Marketing was born, and I was at an event for Microbusinesses.  Face to face.  Real people in the room in front of me!  Zoom wasn’t even a twinkle in someone’s eye, it was that long ago!

I was barely 3 slides in to my presentation when I got a question from the floor.  A question that I’ll never forget.

“What’s the one piece of marketing that I can do in my business that will guarantee success?”.

It’s the question that makes a marketers heart sink.  Because there are so many factors that affect what you might do from a marketing perspective, it’s a bit of an uphill battle to answer without looking like you either:

  1. a) Won’t give an answer because you want them to pay for your services
  2. b) Don’t know what you’re talking about

My stock answer is that if there was a one size fits all all solution, and I knew what it was, I would currently be sitting on my private island because I’d be a billionaire!

Unfortunately, this answer wasn’t what the lady at that particular presentation wanted to hear, and she actually got up and walked out!

I did go on to explain things in a bit more detail, but it was a bit late for that lady at that point.

I’ve come up with an analogy which hopefully demonstrates why the question is actually so hard to answer, and the reasons why!

Think of marketing like your best outfit.  It’s what you wear to show yourself off to your best to everyone around you. But there’s not one item of clothing that absolutely everyone can wear and instantly look their best. It depends on all sorts of things, from your colouring to your height, from your weight to you body proportions. And even if technically something looks good on you, if you’re not feeling it, then you still won’t wear it well.

And it depends who you want to look good in front of.  I expect your granny will have a different idea about what you look best in than your partner will.  Different interests and lifestyle choices, from music to favourite sports, can all influence your fashion choices too.

Marketing is the same.  There is not just one thing that every business in the world could do to guarantee that they will look great to their prospect clients and close sales.

Every business is different.  A different size, with different offerings, different cultures and different values.  And they’re trying to look good to different prospects too.  Big businesses, small businesses, charities, manufacturing, service based etc.

And sometimes, even if the same “marketing tactic” would be appropriate, a direct mail campaign, for example, the way that specific tactics are implemented can be very different depending upon who you’re sending it to, what actions you want the recipient to take and what your campaign goals are.

So, if you’re trying to work out how to try and make sense of this whole marketing malarky, maybe start thinking about it in a different way.

Are you dressing to appeal to manufacturing company directors or creative agency types?  Is there a fashion or trend that you need to follow in your industry, or a way that you can stand out from the crowd without losing street cred.  Will sturdy hiking boots or stilettoes be most appropriate?

Suddenly it becomes much more obvious why there is no one size fits all, and why you really need to understand the fundamentals in your business to be able to choose the appropriate marketing tactics, and tailor the way that they’re implemented so that you have the best chance of success.

Knowing who you’re marketing to is one of the first fundamentals to get right.  And nailing their ideal target market is one of the elements that so many of my clients struggle with.

Often they’re nervous about excluding opportunities, so they look at how they can work with absolutely everyone.  Think back to how that works with the fashion example.  In reality, the businesses that are really clear on who they want to work with are the ones that tend to be most successful.  Because they focus on the pain points, the benefits, the things that the target market is looking for, the target clients flock to them.  They invest their valuable marketing budget (be that financial or time) to bring in the best clients they can, however “best” is defined in that particular business.

If nailing your target market is something you’re struggling with – consider doing a customer audit.  Who are your best customers?  Maybe they spend the most with you, or spend most frequently, or pay most quickly, or really appreciate the value of what you do for them.  Create the list of those best customers and then look at the patterns of what they have in common.  Industry?  Size of company?  Age of company? Culture?  Location? Specific problems? Etc.  There’ll be a raft of things that you’ll be able to identify.  And once you know the common factors you’re looking for, you’ll be able to start looking for other customers that also have those things in common.

If you want more help with this, I can help.  Power hours are designed to help with specific challenges you might be facing.  Strategic Workshops go through all of the fundamentals in your business to create a marketing strategy and marketing plan specifically for your growth goals.  Take a look here to find out more.

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