I remember the days when I thought you needed to spend big money to get traction. But, after a decade of working with small business owners, I soon figured out that massive marketing budgets were (and are) extremely rare.
That was when I realised marketing doesn’t necessarily have to be about spending money on the ‘marketing mix’; there are so many free ways to grow your business first, before going crazy everywhere else. In fact, I would recommend getting your free marketing right first regardless of how big your marketing fund is.
Marketing from the inside out doesn’t cost anything
The fundamental step missing from businesses seeking growth is correctly analysing your existing situation and understanding the gaps that ultimately lose sales for your business (plugging your sales funnel).
Marketing from the inside out means making sure the soil and weather conditions are optimal before you start sprinkling with fertilisers … (aka paid marketing activities).
How does one market ‘from the inside out’? These four questions are a great place to start:
1. How do you manage your customer service?
Do you have a system that ensures you’re handling your clients correctly? Look at all of the factors involved when dealing with your clients and make sure you’re providing a smooth and professional system that supports you, your business and most importantly takes the pain away for your clients. Your number one goal would be to make it a wonderful experience for your customer that makes them want to tell their family and friends about you!
2. How do you manage customer expectations?
Sometimes in business, there are components that require clear rules or boundaries that save the customer (and you) from a bad experience. If you don’t set clear expectations and process boundaries, you’re at risk of many complaints and unhappy clients. For example: If your product/service takes five days to complete, ensure that the customer is aware of your turnaround times upfront. Always, (always!) deliver on or before schedule. Never over-promise and under-deliver—it will never end well and you can’t grow a business on unhappy clients.
3. Do you have well written and documented policies and procedures?
Probably sounds boring and a bit OCD. But a well-documented set of policies and procedures will ensure you (and your staff if you have them) keep on task. It will also make you think about how you do business and push yourself to perform better. A procedure will save you when you’re sick and you need someone to fill in. It will enforce professionalism and most importantly help your business by keeping you accountable.
4. Does your business genuinely seek to help customers or to simply sell to them?
Sales 101. It’s changed. Sales systems and methods are being outdated by our ever-changing society. We can see through every ‘tactic’ in the book. We are different these days. We don’t want to be sold to. So press the delete button on every sales trick you thought you knew and apply one simple rule to your sales system. Base everything you do on the benefit of your customer and not on your bottom line. If you’re only in it for the money or the sale, you’ll feel like you’re pushing baggage up a steep and never-ending hill.
In business, there’s no such thing as a quick fix because the cracks will always reappear when the ground shakes (and in small business the ground can shake a lot!)
It can be hard to analyse the inside—especially when we can’t see it, but it’s important to get this right otherwise your marketing dollar will not reach its full potential. Building a business is hard work and marketing will always perform better if you do.