Recently, an online colleague asked me for advice on how to make his business stand out among the many others that offered services similar to his own. His most recent promotion had resulted in some unexpected results, not the least of which was minimal interest in what his business had to offer.
He had read through his marketing plan, and everything seemed to be going along up until this point in keeping with what was written in the marketing plan. What he hadn’t anticipated was negative backlash based on unexpected vectors from the public’s misperception of his business’s industry through to negative experiences on social media with similar businesses, and touching upon the economic status of your customers and potential customers.
The biggest issue was that customers and potential customers had a negatively skewed opinion of what his business offered based on negative stereotyping, bad past experiences with similar businesses in the same industry, and a general distrust by the public at large that had nothing to do with either him or his business.
Where To Start
The first place to start in order to understand the problem is absolutely your marketing plan. This is where you can catch any mistakes or slip-ups that are contrary to what is in your marketing plan. It’s also where you can see where the holes can be found in your marketing plan.
Research and Development
The wise approach to successfully marketing and promoting your business is to be on top of the latest trends, and economic factors that may or may not affect your industry and business. If the stock market takes a severe upturn or downturn, this could affect your business. Always have a back-up plan — or more than one back-up plan — you can pick up and run with if the current plan you have in place isn’t working for your business.
Changing Customer Misperceptions
Whether it’s a misperception of what your business does, or if it’s a misperception of how things work in your industry, education is one of the best ways to address the issue. When you do nothing to address the issue, the issue continues to grow and may, in fact, unintentionally become the white elephant in the room.
However, addressing the issue must be done correctly or your efforts will sound as if you’re protesting too much which, of course, leads to other problems. Do not become the Lady Macbeth of your industry!
Some Great Ways To Address The Issue
Most often, misperceptions happen because of a lack of credible, factual information about what the industry is and what your business does. The answer then is to provide credible, factual information to your customers at no cost to your customers.
- Write a White Paper that gives a general overview of your industry and add some helpful hints that will help your customers navigate some of the trickier aspects of your industry.
- Comment on blogs and other forums that are discussing your industry or business problems like the ones your business solves.
- Share important information on your business with politicians (congressmen and senators in the U.S., and federal and provincial members of parliament in Canada).
- Re-think your branding, and remove hoops from your elevator pitch. The harder it is for people to understand what you do, the less likely they are to do business with you.
- Craft a remarkable, accurate email signature that makes you and your business memorable.
- Re-work your marketing materials. Treat your materials like a meal. If your market is “fast food” don’t try to sell them filet mignon. If your market is “fine dining” don’t try to sell them hotdogs. Deliver the right “meal” to your customer base.
- Make a habit of personally contacting past and present customers just to touch base. Don’t leave them feeling that you’re trying to squeeze some business out of them. Be sincere, and let them know that you know who they are as individuals, not just as business contacts.
There are many other ways to deliver credible, factual information to the market beyond the seven ways I’ve mentioned in this article. Hold a brainstorming get-together with trusted friends and customers, and ask them to share their ideas for reaching your market and wiping the misperceptions about your business off the proverbial table.
That may sound odd to you since entrepreneurs rarely go into business to be average. That being said, for some business owners and entrepreneurs, wearing too many hats waters down the experience for both the owners and entrepreneurs, and their customers and potential customers.
Contract others to perform those business tasks that aren’t part of your strong suit. This then leaves you with more time to focus on what you do best, and when you do what you do best, this allows you to be remarkable.
You don’t have to be the biggest fish in the pond to get noticed. But being the best fish in the pond will definitely make others sit up and take notice of you.