If there was ever going to be a dirty 9 letter word, I reckon marketing could be it. Just utter it in a room of small biz owners and you’ll hear a collective moan. Unfortunately, whilst not many of us delight in it, we are definitely destined to spend most of our time on it. So it pays to embrace it and get strategic about how you market your business.
I love a good challenge, so over the years I’ve learned to lean into marketing and try out lots of ideas. Some have worked, while others haven’t. Regardless of the result, I’ve learnt two important things:
1 – It pays to have a strategy, otherwise you’ll end up going around in circles.
2 – Having a powerful brand will be your biggest asset.
MARKETING VS BRANDING
Marketing and Branding are often confused (like brand and branding which I discussed in my last blog post). Let’s quickly check in on how they differ, so it’s easier to see how they can work together and influence each other.
BRANDING is the action you take to communicate your brand and build people’s perception of your business, while MARKETING is the action you take to reach them. Put another way, marketing is how we promote our business, while branding is how we shape what people think and feel about our business. Branding and marketing both feed off each other, however you really need to have a clear idea of what your brand represents in order to deliver a strong marketing strategy. Which is the perfect segue into our next section …
THE POWER OF MARKETING FUNNELS
Marketing can encompass many activities, but my favourite strategy is the design and use of marketing funnels. I say that because, as someone who has never got a degree in marketing, they just make sense.
A marketing funnel is a 3-step process intended to capture leads and convert them into customers. It’s called a funnel because the first part usually involves catching a wide number of leads, which moves down the funnel and decreases until you get to a much smaller number of highly qualified leads.
Each phase of the funnel has a name and a purpose:
This phase is where the funnel starts and is all about generating awareness of your brand. The best way to do this is through content that will attract new audiences who aren’t already familiar with you.
Examples of awareness marketing strategies are paid ads, networking, and PR.
Assuming people are now aware of you, the second phase of the funnel is aimed at getting people to consider your brand over the competition. This is when you want to be connecting and engaging with them on a deeper level, through sharing valuable content that builds trust.
Examples of consideration marketing strategies are websites, a podcast, and newsletters.
Finally, the last phase of your funnel is all about encouraging people to make a decision. Having built trust, this is the time to entice people into action. In most cases this will be a sale, but it could also be an action that brings them a step closer to working with you.
Examples of conversion marketing strategies are phone calls, sales pages, and booking links.
HOW BRANDING IMPACTS MARKETING
Now that you understand how marketing funnels work, this is where branding comes in: the more powerful your brand message is and the more intimately you understand your ideal audience, the easier it will be to design your funnel and get results.
Knowing your customers and being clear on your message is essential because it will improve your ability to connect with your audience. If you can connect with your audience, you are more likely to entice them through each phase of the funnel. Understanding your audience will also help you understand what type of content you should deliver, and where to deliver it.
There are other powerful ways your brand can impact your marketing strategies. If you already have a memorable brand, then it will be much easier to draw in a new audience. If you have a unique selling proposition (USP) and can differentiate yourself from your competition, that’s another brand advantage. As a brand it also pays to show up often and consistently where your ideal audience hangs out. Doing this will increase your visibility, which will build your brand awareness, which will give you a greater chance of generating leads and conversions.
If ‘marketing’ has been a dirty word in your vocabulary, hopefully I’ve gone some way to alleviating your pain. Like everything else in business, marketing just needs a plan. And if you can pair your plan with a powerful brand, marketing might just become something you love, rather than loathe. Give it a try and see how you go!