A few years ago, marketing was simpler. A professional service marketing strategy, for instance, could embrace public speaking, article publishing and book authorship as a marketing strategy likely to reach prospective clients. A small businesses marketing strategy could combine networking, community engagement and build a loyal customer base through word of mouth.
Today, an overabundance of social media noise and content marketing compete for your prospects’ attention. BtoB sellers struggle getting past voicemail as buyers conduct their own online research. Traditional advertising is less effective for professional services marketing and small businesses as consumers increasingly shun sales pitches, turn to online review sites for validation and expect companies to help them make informed decisions throughout the buying process.
Few would argue that the battle to win new clients and customers has intensified. But a key question remains: have the rules of small business and professional service marketing changed? Is social media now the most effective marketing strategy? Will content marketing, and seeking Facebook Likes, Twitter followers and LinkedIn contacts drive your small business or professional services marketing strategy as a primary channel for generating leads and closing sales?
The “Slightly” Famous You
Though the past few years have brought many changes, the underlying rules for building an effective small business or professional service marketing strategy remain the same. If you’re a professional service provider or small business owner, there really is a proven blueprint for rising above the noise and distinguishing your business from a sea of look alikes.
What’s the secret? Becoming just famous enough to make your name come to mind when prospects look for your product or service. When you become Slightly Famous in a strategically targeted market niche you won’t have to rely on advertising. You’ll be regularly featured in blogs, newspapers and magazines. You’ll get invited to speak at conferences. Your name will spread and you’ll grow your online presence.
Your Slightly Famous marketing strategy will help you get more business–not only more, but the right kind of business-and they don’t have to work so hard to get it. Although your efforts will take different forms, underlying them all are seven basic principles.
1. Targeting the best prospects
Building your business around your best prospects will help you avoid a poorly conceived marketing strategy. You must know who you want to reach and what their needs are. Instead of starting with tactics like content marketing and social media marketing, Slightly Famous marketers instead determine their most ideal target prospects first, which can be as simple as asking your best customers the right questions.
2. Developing a unique market niche
Slightly Famous entrepreneurs base their small businesses and professional service marketing strategy around carefully select market niches that they can realistically hope to dominate. Occupying a niche where your products or professional services fit the needs of a target market means you won’t compete with similar businesses solely on price.
Dan Poynter started writing books about parachuting over forty years ago. Rather than try to fight for attention in general bookstores, he sold books to skydiving clubs, parachute dealers, and the U.S. Parachute Association. He developed a reputation in skydiving circles, and has enjoyed steady sales of his books for more than four decades. Best of all, he has the market all to himself!
3. Positioning your business as the best solution
If you’re a professional services provider or small firm surrounded by similar businesses, you must differentiate yourself with a strong positioning strategy. The process starts by evaluating your business features against competitors to ensure you deliver unique benefits to your target market and achieve the market position you want. Key questions may include:
- Do you save people time or money?
- Do you make money for people?
- Do you apply proven processes or models?
- Are you more expensive, less expensive?
- Do you offer better or faster service?
- Do you offer a stronger guarantee?
- Do you use technology to respond faster to a customer’s needs?
You don’t need to be completely original as long as you offer something different from (and superior to) your competitors.
4. Maintaining your visibility
Your message must be out there, if not continuously, then often enough to keep your name alive in customers’ minds. This is especially important as prospects are inundated with marketing messages and can easily forget you.
Visibility is a cornerstone of every Slightly Famous business strategy. But instead of making the goal of growing unfocused lists of social media followers your top priority, Slightly Famous marketers are strategic. They place their core message in front of as many relevant target customers as often as possible.
5. Enhancing your credibility
Visibility, of course, is only a means. To produce results, visibility must be combined with credibility. This means that you need to embrace visibility strategies that display your distinction, competence, expertise, authority, and leadership.
Fred Tibbitts, Jr. founded Fred Tibbitts & Associates to help food and beverage companies reach global markets. He strategically cultivated his professional service marketing strategy around building a reputation in his industry as a well-connected and knowledgeable global beverage-marketing expert who is fluent in all the details of his business.
Tibbitts monitors global beverage trends on a daily basis while staying in contact with account managers at hotels and restaurants. He hosts a series of special events, “Fred Tibbitts Spring & Autumn Dinners with Special Friends,” in key markets, including Hong Kong, Singapore, and New York. Tibbitts also pursues content marketing by contributing a column to Hospitality International Magazine and numerous industry publications.
6. Becoming a thought leader
The Internet has created empowered consumers who lend their attention and loyalty to companies that demonstrate a top-down commitment to integrity and thought leadership.
Thought leadership marketing is a comprehensive strategy that combines public relations, developing an online presence, producing educational content marketing via blogs, white papers and articles, and demonstrating community involvement or by establishing your reputation as a generous contributor to your industry.
7. Establishing your brand and reputation
Slightly famous entrepreneurs use their smallness and specialty in ways that corporate giants can’t touch. They make sure their brands strike an emotional chord by bringing their business “soul” to the forefront of their marketing.
Brand recognition and reputation matter when it comes to generating sales leads. Your brand identity will become the touchstone of your entire business. It will ensure that all your marketing efforts pull in the same direction. You’ll waste less time, make fewer marketing mistakes, and stand out an increasing cluttered world.