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Target those who need you most

Our politicians have shown they could learn a thing or two from small business when it comes to marketing their wares.

You can be the best at something, but if people don’t know about it, that fact won’t get you anywhere.

The federal election brought home for me the importance of positioning and promotion when you’re marketing your business. The shambolic campaign and aftermath showed that you can be running the only western economy to emerge unscathed from the global financial crisis, which should be enough to get you elected a saint, but if you can’t sell your accomplishments – and you let your competitors dictate the agenda – you will be severely spanked.

Policy waffling, backstabbing and leaks didn’t help, but history tells us that Australians give a neophyte government a second chance, even if it’s made mistakes. For the government to have so many runs on the board, the election should have been a walkover. To my mind, Labor’s biggest problems were a lack of firm positioning and an inability to sell itself to its customer base – uh, I mean the electorate.

These principles also apply to running a small business. It’s not enough to be the best-in-class for service, delivery, reliability, range or innovation; if your customers and potential customers don’t know it, you won’t survive.

The first step in this process is positioning. You need to work out what you’re best at; what your salient attribute or point of difference is, and why it’s meaningful to your customers. It’s only worth focusing on a defining attribute if:

  • It’s important and valued by your target market;
  • It’s distinctive and can’t be easily copied;
  • It’s superior – you do a better job of it than your competition;
  • It’s communicable – you can make it obvious to consumers.

That last point leads into the importance of promotion.

You need to be able to use both modern and traditional communication tools to let your customer base know exactly what your points of difference are, and this starts with making it easy for your customers to find you on the internet.

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If they can’t do that, your online presence is just a billboard in the desert.

Getting found online means getting search right. While that’s the subject of a whole column on its own, developing content that uses the right language to describe your point of difference is one of the most important things for drawing new customers to your business.

There are lots of other important aspects of promotion that can also achieve extra leverage from technology. ?Word-of-mouth (WOM) is important for most small businesses, but it benefits from developing and executing a WOM plan – such as offering a discount for bringing in new customers.

You need to find out who most values what you’re best at, and try to be there at their point of need (which leads back to the point about getting search right).

You may not be fighting an election, but if you think of your customers as constituents and your competitors as the opposition, you might put more thought into your campaign position and strategy.

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Marketing small business can be a daunting task, don’t fret - instead get a little help from the experts with their handy business tips. This business blog collates a wealth of advice, business tips and opinions. Contributed to by some of small businesses most influential experts, the business blog tackles current and challenging issues and provides comprehensive guidance that is sure to inspire you.