One of the biggest opportunities I see for service-based businesses is consistency in marketing their business.
Raising awareness of your services so qualified customers can find you is something every business can do year-round.
But consider what actually happens in many small and mid-sized businesses. When business is booming, most of the company’s resources go into getting the existing work done. Only when business gets slow again do most businesses re-evaluate their marketing efforts.
But when you’re busy, that’s exactly the time you need to step on the gas.
Building The Future Today
Building awareness for your company is something you must do year-round, not just when business is slow. The reason for this is sales cycles have a long timeline.
The average customer must hear a brand message twenty-one times before they even consider making a branded purchase.
This means you must build awareness of your company and what it offers about six months prior to each customer purchase.
The best way to prepare for your slow season is to make additional time to market your expertise when you are the busiest.
Be sure to allocate time and resources for building your business long before you need it. Building momentum out of a cold start takes time. If you ditch raising brand awareness every time things get overwhelmingly busy, you will find it difficult to grow to the next level.
Marketing Is More Than Advertising
When you say the word “marketing”, many people hear the word “advertising”. Advertising is a subset of marketing, and far from the entirety of it.
Consider the noisy world we live in today. Even if you had a large budget to buy advertising, where would you invest that money?
Today, people barely glance billboards because they’re too busy looking at their phone. There’s thousands of TV channels on TV, Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube — and people either fast-forward or tune out completely to get past the commercials.
There’s also scores of social media platforms, millions of apps, and billions of websites there to fill the gaps in people’s day.
Don’t forget podcasts, which are growing exponentially. Radio, newspapers, and magazines also still exist. Advertising dollars have to be focused towards the right customer personas, at the right time, in the right medium, or that investment vanishes.
In today’s world, everyone has a portable computer in their pocket, and more information is created and published every few years than in the century that preceded them.
This is one of the main reasons I don’t rely on pay-per-click advertising as a main form of marketing.
We’ve been ignoring banner ads for almost two decades, and is advertising is ethereal by nature.
Pay-per-click continues to thrive though, because it’s the one thing guaranteed to get a message in front of an audience.
Content Marketing: A Long-Term Strategy That Works
I believe all businesses can benefit from content marketing. This means creating information which is interesting and relevant to your customers, and can be reused extensively.
For example, many books that are published today are written first as daily blogs. That’s content marketing in full effect.
Over a period of time, and these thoughts are collected in book form. But let’s say you don’t want to write a book just to reach customers.
What’s a manageable option for you?
Blogging is one possible option. By writing down your industry knowledge and addressing the questions your customers already have, you accomplish a few things.
First, you establish your expertise. What’s the difference between you and everyone else in your industry doing the same thing? Customers trust companies that establish their expertise through digestible information.
We trust what we can analyze to be safe. We fear the unknown.
Continually publishing information and insights allows your company to establish it’s expertise, and begins to establish you as an expert in your field.
Content marketing through writing, podcasting, and videos also has a curious effect on search results.
Google tries to match search results to the best individual pages that answer the searcher’s intent. Google looks for clues for what a site is about in order to better categorize the pages in that site.
When search engines see your company publishing about the same subjects, over and over, they begin to associate your brand with those subjects. Branded content is becoming more authoritative to Google and other search engines.
Brand As A Ranking Signal
You are more likely to rank higher by consistently publishing about specific subjects, as opposed to a company that never publishes anything new on their site, or a competitor that lacks focus in their content strategy.
Having a large amount of content that helps your customers solve their problems will also help your content get shared on social media.
Think about it. Which site are you more likely to share on Facebook or Twitter? A website with only a few vague pages about what they do, or a site that has blog with hundreds of articles on a particular subject?
The more of your insight and expertise you share, the more chances you have to make your content spread, and therefore introduce people to your company and your brand.
Marketing Has Many Forms
Marketing doesn’t always have to be online either.
Making new connections and closing deals almost always takes place face-to-face. It’s good to go to industry events, trade shows, local events, and community meet ups in order to make your company known.
In A world of increasingly short attention span’s, you have to fight to be above the noise.
If you build it, and then market it effectively, only then will your future customers show up.