Marketing is a critical part of running a successful business. It’s how you communicate to the wider community about your business and create opportunities for them to engage with your products and/or services. But marketing can be tricky. It’s not always clear where to start, which marketing tools to choose or how to know if your marketing efforts are working. Here are five of the biggest marketing-related challenges small business owners face and insights on how to navigate them.
To answer these questions, we reached out to Garland marketing professional Ruben Amesquita to hear his insights on five common challenges for business owners developing their marketing strategies.
The difference between marketing branding is a common point of uncertainty for many business owners. Both marketing and branding are forms of communication. Marketing and branding work together to:
Branding and marketing work together. “Branding is how the market perceives your product or business,” explained Ruben. “It is the “outside perception” of who you are and what you do.” The key is to make sure your outside perception and internal reality match. The perceptions and promises you make through your branding should be aligned with who you are and what you offer as a business.
Marketing on the other hand, involves all of the strategic actions you take to get that message out to your target audience. Ruben breaks this down into two stages. “Strategic marketing is crafting the message and the planning side of sending it,” he said. “Tactical marketing is where the rubber meets the road. It is how you get your message out… it can be via a postcard, a radio or tv ad, a newsprint or magazine ad, a billboard, the side of a bus, a social media post, an email or a networking event.”
It’s always valuable to leverage the skills of marketing and branding professionals as they are equipped at keeping up with trends, applying best practices and effectively capturing your message and identity. It can be an investment, but doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive; you can always come back later and invest more in your branding and marketing strategies as your business grows. Be sure to interview several before choosing one and select one who has a proven track record of success with a variety of clients.
If your product or service is Garland-specific, then you’ll want to spend time getting to know your target audience. Spend time where they spend time, conduct surveys and get to know possible competitors at a local level to see how your business could stand out. The more you talk to your target audience, the more clarity you’ll have about how best to introduce them to your business.
As a constantly evolving field, the marketing industry is constantly experimenting with new tools, technologies and techniques. While this makes marketing exciting and extremely customizable, it can also make it overwhelming to know what best fits your business. For example, how should you choose between digital marketing or more tactical measures like postcards and fliers?
“One is not necessarily better than the other,” advises Ruben. The key is to know your target audience: What are their pain points? How do they make purchasing decisions? Where do they get information about which brands and businesses to trust? The answers to these questions will inform your marketing strategy, including the tools you use.
For example, if you’re trying to reach a younger audience, you’ll probably want to lean more heavily on social media, which might not be the case if you’re trying to reach an older target audience. Once you develop a database of target customers, Ruben explains that the next step is to tailor the message to their needs, choosing the best strategies and methods to do that.
“Social media is great and should be integral to your marketing strategy,” recommends Ruben. “It can increase your brand exposure, and it allows you to engage with your target audience. This way, you build brand trust and loyalty while developing your personality.”
The key is to know which social media platforms are best for your business and which are most utilized by your target audience. You should answer these questions as part of your branding process. You don’t want to waste time developing a persona on platforms irrelevant to your target audience.
Once you decide which platforms to use, it’s important to develop a personality or style that fits your brand identity and the platform you’ve chosen. Think through everything from the colors and graphics you use to your tone of voice in writing. Lastly, Ruben urges consistency: “The more active you are, the more your audience will be engaged with your brand. If you’re not involved, people will eventually forget about you.” Creating a weekly schedule is the best way to develop a consistent presence.
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