Today I’m speaking with a group of small business owner that want to know about how to develop a marketing strategy that truly allows them to differentiate what they do from others.
I wrote recently about how to find your point of differentiation by seeking clarity and you may find that post a perfect compliment to what I am going to share today.
To me getting clear about strategy is the most important challenge business owners face and I’m going to challenge them first to look inward. I’m going to ask them to choose a marketing strategy that is infused with who they, why they do what they do and how to use that story to attract opportunities and clients.
But then I’m going to give them a very specific set of tactics to put their strategy into action and on display.
Every industry group feels that their business, their needs, their way of marketing is unique – that they are the only ones that must rely on word of mouth or referrals. While every industry has a unique set of clients, a unique language, maybe even an unusual distribution model, the way that customers come to know, like and trust them is fundamentally the same.
Today, specifically, I am going to introduce this group to a core set of practices that every business can use to communicate their simple, clear, marketing strategy.
Build and tell stories – You must develop a set of core stories that you use in your business building. The stories that help people understand how your business is different, not because of what it does so much, but because of what it cares about or doesn’t do.
These stories must radiate from you, your staff, and your community and will ultimately make up the foundation of your brand promise.
Sell by teaching – You must commit to using education as your primary means of influence. This is one of the most powerful ways to differentiate your business in the eyes of those that come to work for you as well as those that comes to experience your unique point of view through exposure to your teaching.
When you embrace teaching in everything you do, your staff begins to understand that the company is their first customer.
Become a platform – It’s no longer enough to think in terms of building a product or service. In fact, it’s no longer enough to simply build a community of prospects, users and buyers.
In order to truly differentiate you must begin to think of your business as a platform for others to get what they need. You must expand your thinking from business to marketplace.
Can you create opportunity for strategic partners? Can you teach others how to launch businesses from your business? Can you mentor employees and become a hub for their personal growth?
These are questions that will take you far beyond the typical business building mindset, but the answers may become the higher purpose for your business.
Reverse the experience – Finally, I’m going to suggest that the greatest way to deliver a remarkable marketing strategy is to deliver a remarkable marketing experience before, during and after a customer is a customer.
I’ve shared my concept of the Marketing Hourglass now with tens of thousands of small business owners, but only recently have I determined that the best way to construct any product or service experience with this tool is to do it in reverse.
To borrow from a well-worn bit of wisdom, if you want to deliver an exceptional experience you must start with the end in mind. You must begin the entire process by considering what you will do 90 or 180 days after you make a sale and then work backwards to the point where you first meet.
To some these ideas may feel foreign and not at all like a substantial way of doing business, but to others they will ring true and real and perhaps for the first time they will be able to differentiate their business with perfect clarity.