How the Right Marketing Strategy Will Help You Meet Your Business Goals

Heather Steele of Blue Steele Solutions recently appeared with Randi Skinner of RS Consulting on the Build Value by Choice podcast hosted by Nana Bonsu, a show focused on helping small business owners grow their businesses while reducing their involvement.

First Step? Define Your Audience and Your Brand

The very first thing that someone can do is take a step back and spend time defining their audience and defining their brand. Brand persona and audience persona are buzz words in the marketing world. And those are the kind of things that you can do as a business owner on your own.

Put together a marketing team of, you know, 3-5 people, including yourself, and maybe if you are a solopreneur, bring in trusted advisors, a mentor, a customer to a client or two, and create a little team to help you develop this persona if you're kind of stuck.

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What Do the Next 5-10 Years Look Like?

It's really important for us to know this — what will the next 5-10 years look like? What do you want to happen in your business? Do you plan on selling? Do you plan on retiring? Do you plan on exiting? Do you have other plans? Are you looking at increasing your size? Do you want to double down and get as much done yourself in this business in the next 5 years as possible?

Or are you in a position where you want to look at systems and ways that you can make things more efficient so that you can start to back out and let the business run itself?

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Business Value — To the Market and to Yourself

When we think about value, especially from an exit planning standpoint, we typically think about what you could sell your business for in the marketplace, but there are two different kinds of value: there's that market value, but then there's also the value of your business to yourself as the business owner.

What you could cash out for, what you're personally taking home at the end of the day to support your family, that’s a different kind of value. Other types of value include making an environmental impact because of the way you run your business, or providing employment to people, or maybe it’s producing a product that is desperately needed in your industry.

People have many different views of what the actual value of their business is to them. That’s your internal value versus your market value.

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Are You Focusing on the Wrong Objectives or the Wrong Audience?

I think one of the greatest misconceptions, especially when business owners are actually in the weeds, is that they think their marketing is not working. This doesn't work, this doesn't work, nothing ever works. And so I think that's one of the greatest misconceptions — it's not really that it doesn't work, it's more likely that you're either focusing on the wrong things, the wrong objective, or possibly the wrong audience.

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You're not talking to your audience in the right way. So there's very rarely a time that I think that someone's actual tool or tactic, whether it be social media or email newsletters or content marketing, whatever it is, it's not the actual tool, it's not the widget that's wrong. It's everything else that's leading up to the widget that's wrong.

I think this is kind of a two-part issue that goes beyond not having the right strategy and audience in place. We see a lot of people who are taking the shotgun approach, and they kind of want to do a little bit of everything to try to reach every single person who could be a potential customer. They're not doing any of it for a long enough time, and they're not doing any of it in a focused enough way.

And it's really difficult, especially for a business owner who feels pressure if they're in a situation where they really need that additional revenue or they're feeling pressure maybe from their board or their employees. It's very easy to scramble around and try a lot of different things and get really frustrated that none of them are that magic bullet, that thing that's going to bring instant success.

When they step back and have a much more focused strategy where they're trying to reach a very, very specific audience, they’re more effective. It's kind of counterintuitive, right? They need lots of sales, and they need lots of results. But instead, we're going to tell them to focus more narrowly on a very specific audience and take a very specific track.

They're going to have a lot more success that way because they'll be able to make that budget last long enough to actually see the strategy through to get the results that they want

Where Small Business Owners Waste a Lot of Time

I think where business owners waste a lot of time is that they've skipped ahead to something exciting and fun and they're like, I want to do this, or you know, do something that their mentor or their friends did that worked really well.

It's kind of trying to do a little bit more of skipping to the fun stuff versus taking a step back and starting at the beginning. We start with your audience and your brand and move into your vision and your value and then from there go into your goals. Because when you get the actual campaign going, it's probably got some really cool flair to it, and we feel good. It's the good part, it's the fun part.

But if we haven't done the work at the beginning to make sure that we're weaving it into the entirety of our company and creating that marketing culture, then it falls flat and we waste time. And it's something that maybe works for a little bit, but it's not creating a sustainable process. It's not creating something that actually builds value because maybe your goals are misaligned with your vision.

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ROI and Data

It's not about the amount of money that I'm going to invest. It's knowing what the ROI Is going to be right. If I spend $1, I want to know that I'm gonna get $2, $3, $4, whatever, back in. And I think when we're looking at building value through marketing strategy, we look at your goals, your vision.

But we also dive into the data, we dive into what your customer acquisition cost is. What are those numbers that matter to your business, including industry benchmarks and some of those metrics that we want to make sure we're living up to.

We base the entire strategy on coming full circle to align the final playbooks, the final outcome recommendations, the tools and tactics needed that we're going to use to align your vision and your values. We’re making sure that they make sense from a number standpoint, that your results are data-driven, and it's not that we should do this because it's what people in our industry are doing or that it's what I've seen other people like me do.

Instead, we're gonna do this based on my real metrics, my real numbers, my goals, my marketing budget, and the return that I want to see. It will have proven results based upon your internal numbers and the external metrics that we're able to go after.

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Listen to the Full Episode

For more marketing awesomeness, check out the full episode.

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