Small businesses have played a central role in shaping the history of America.
In fact, the very first settlers that crossed the Atlantic in the 1700’s to settle what became the United States were largely traders and merchants, the equivalent of small business owners today.
Perhaps that is why America is celebrating small businesses this week. For centuries this was the country where anyone from around the world could come set up their business and chase the American dream.
But a lot has changed since then.
Most importantly, the world has gone digital.
And in a digital world traditional marketing notions are rapidly being overturned.
One of those is the four Ps of Marketing.
Product. Price. Place. Promotion.
These four pillars formed the foundation of marketing for decades.
What are the four Ps? Product is everything about the item or service you are selling. Design, packaging, labeling etc. Price is how much people are willing to pay for whatever you are selling. Place is where to locate your product so that people buy it. And promotion used to be traditional advertising, such as TV commercials, billboards, stands at tradeshows and events, but now is increasingly moving online.
A digital world has not undermined these four traditional Ps of marketing, but it has made them more complex.
So in the spirit of small business week, here are the SEVEN P’s of marketing I believe that any business, big or small, but especially small, needs to keep in mind in order to survive and thrive in today’s marketplace.
Before the internet came along it was much easier to focus. Remember when borrowing books from the local public library was a thing?
Now with rise of the internet, all the information you could ever possibly need is available with a simple google search. The drawback is that it has made it more difficult than ever to focus and set priorities. So the first P is to set priorities and stick to them. The right priorities include setting clear, achievable goals, understanding your audience and potential customers, as well as creating a budget.
The second P of marketing is really the four traditional Ps lumped together as one: product, price, place, promotion. As mentioned earlier, they have not died in a digital age, but have simply evolved to encompass new technologies and become more complex. For instance, despite digital ad spend beating TV for the first time in 2017, TV commercials still reign in a significant portion of marketing budgets for most organizations.
You need to be on social media in 2018. That is where your customers are spending their time online.
But not all social media platforms are created equal.
LinkedIn tailors toward professionals. Snapchat toward tweens. Facebook is now more popular with the older crowd. Pinterest is popular with women. YouTube has everything, but is a go-to platform for vloggers and gamers.
All of these platforms cater to different crowds. So as a business it is your job to know what platforms your customers are on and develop that social media channel specifically.
Platforms are especially important if you want to expand abroad and sell in other countries. Some of the most popular social media platforms in the United States are nonexistent in other countries. Snapchat has still not made significant penetration in Europe and other parts of the world. Russia has its own equivalent to Facebook called Vkontakte and China its own equivalent to Google called Baidu.
Most importantly, do not make the mistake of trying to be on all platforms at once. It is better to develop one platform really well instead of several social media mediocre.
The rise of the internet has also changed the relationship between businesses and customers.
Before it was easy for businesses to get away with bad customer service. Customers had few means of fighting back.
But in today’s digital world, an unsatisfied customer can do significant damage to your reputation by simply leaving a bad review on Google or Yelp. Other customers will see this and be scared away.
Sure you can respond to the bad reviews and apologize, but the damage has been done.
So it is better to avoid bad reviews in the first place.
To do this, you should remain super focused on the user experience and customer commitment.
That means doing several rounds of beta testing before launching an app. It means engaging with customers on Twitter and Facebook. It means launching a killer website that will keep visitors coming back.
Staying committed to the customer and user experience is the best way to get them to convert into paying and returning customers.
5. Promo Plan
The next P is creating an action plan to promote your business these include:
Brand strategy/content marketing
Using all of these promo plans are great ways to get people talking about your business, and they all complement one another. For instance, you can have the best website in the world, but without proper SEO nobody is going to visit it. And despite all of the digital talk, word of mouth is sometimes still the best way to build a network and loyal fans. So go to events or host them yourself.
6. Patience & Persistence
Don’t expect to see quick results. Proper content marketing strategy can require months of blogging and SEO before seeing results.
Influencer marketing can help bring exposure to your business from influential individuals in your industry. But even then results may take time.
Getting the results you want takes stamin. But the rewards can be lucrative for this who stick with the plan.
Finally, it is extremely important to measure performance. Is your business growing or stagnating? What could you be doing differently to achieve the growth you want?
Use analytics to see where people are coming from to visit your site. Are they visiting the links from the emails you send out? Or from your twitter posts?
And once they are on your website, what is their behavior? Do they visit the homepage and immediately bounce back to google, or do they spend time looking at the content of your site. If the former is the case, then perhaps you need to check how fast your site is loading, or change the look of the home page.
All in all, tracking performance is key to raising the self-awareness of your business. And the better you know how it is performing, the easier it is to make changes and fix problems.
One Final Thought
The first half of 2018 is soon coming to a close. So for all small businesses, there is still time to make some changes by the end of June and turn 2018 into your blowout year.
I will be hosting the Let’s Get Social workshop in June where I will discuss an integrated approach to marketing which includes these seven Ps of marketing and additional information on how to build a strategic content marketing campaign.
If you’d like to attend the workshop, you can register here.
Remember, if you are not getting the results you want, YOU NEED TO DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT! Try something new and you may be surprised at the results.