True or false: Word of mouth is the best form of advertising.
True, right? Nearly every small business operates with the assumption that they satisfy their customers better than any of their competitors, and their satisfied customers will, in turn, become their advocates and refer new customers to them.
So how is that working out for you? Do you have a steady stream of new customers calling, visiting your location or contacting you online? Is your sales funnel so full that you are finding it tough to keep up with demand? Are you continually amazed at the profitability and net income your business is generating?
Our guess is that you probably aren’t experiencing the fairy tale described above. Yes, you do occasionally see a new customer from a referral. But you would like to see more.
Best-kept Secret = Broken Marketing Function
An independent restaurant had this phrase on its marquee:
We are [our town’s*] best kept secret!
(actual town name removed to protect the guilty …)
Might we make a suggestion? Your marketing function is probably nonexistent or dysfunctional if your business is a secret. When a business markets itself effectively, more become aware of the products and/or services offered. Some secret-sharing might occur as genuine fans of your business tell others about their experience, but this is usually a side effect of the primary source of information about your business: your marketing function.
The Best and Only Reason to Market Your Business
Is marketing optional? Is it just a normal cost of doing business, kind of like payroll taxes or an electrical utility bill? Is there a more important reason?
Many companies slash marketing efforts as their first option to cut expenses during tough times. Research proves this is not only the worst thing to do, but, in fact, the tough times are when you should be marketing more. Companies who have slashed marketing budgets quickly learn how damaging the result is and reassess that decision. Sometimes the company’s miscalculated cutback in marketing writes the final chapter in the company’s story.
In our opinion, the reason you ought to invest in marketing is simple: It is a matter of survival. Customers don’t always gravitate to businesses with the best service. If that were true, fast-food chains and big box retailers would be out of business. Customers don’t always choose the business with the lowest prices. If that were true, luxury items and premium services wouldn’t exist.
New customers are created when your goods and/or services meet someone’s immediate need … AND when you are on the top of that someone’s mind when he or she needs your goods and services. When enough people in the market (e.g., potential customers) know about your business and have a basic idea of what you offer (e.g., you have made an impression on them through some sort of marketing message), they will be aware of your business as an option when they need what you offer. The needs represented in your current base of loyal customers will likely change one day. If you are not generating new customers as a routine and intentional part of running your business, your customer base will erode over time and your business will not survive. Marketing equals survival.
A Starting Point
If you know you need to raise the bar with your marketing but aren’t sure where to start, we are here to help. Here are the types of projects we typically take on for clients:
- Newspaper and magazine advertisements
- Outdoor billboards
- Coordinated event promotion (ads, signage, apparel, promotional items, etc.)
- Logo design and business identity (branding) development
- Stationary and communication design