We’re not going to beat around the bush here, sales and marketing are two different things, and if you’re not treating these two facets as entities in their own right, you’re doing it wrong.
Sorry, that’s just how it is.
Here’s a real-life example of someone not understanding the difference…
“I’m thinking of closing my business. I haven’t made a single sale in two months…” read the Facebook plea from a disgruntled small business owner, on a page that seemed to be set up for disgruntled small business owners to allow them to vent at other disgruntled small business owners.
The first comment on the post said…
“What do you sell?”
The next comment said…
“What field are you in?”
Another comment said…
“But what is it that you’re trying to sell?”
And herein lies the problem. The industry is unknown, the product or service is unknown, the brand is unknown…
…and that’s what we’re looking at more closely in this first of a two part blog – building your brand, marketing.
You don’t have to look far to spot the world famous brands, you’re probably reading or listening to this blog on a product from the ‘one with the piece of fruit’. You might have nipped for a bit of breakfast and a coffee beneath the ‘golden arches’, and you might have even driven there in the one with the ‘black stallion’, if you’re lucky.
OK, you’re probably not realistically expecting to build your brand to the level of Apple, McDonalds or Ferrari, but it’s good to dream, and everyone starts somewhere.
Just as a side note, the likes of Apple, Google and Amazon were all small businesses too, once upon a time, out in the back yard or garage.
Whether that’s inspiring to you or not as a business owner, it is certainly true to say that every single major brand had to put the leg work into the marketing side of things, long before seeing the benefits on the sales side of things.
Now, when it comes to marketing, we like to think of the main goal as establishing a brand.
Your brand, whether that’s one that is to be recognised locally, regionally, nationally or globally, is the creation that will give your customers the clarity of who you are, and the confidence to provide them with the product or service they need.
Setting up a brand isn’t an overnight journey, and though websites like FIVERR and those little favours you can call in from mates may come in handy every now and then, we really do believe that there is so much more to brand identity than a cool looking logo and a mate who knows his way around a website.
Market Research. That’s the first thing you need to do. Is your idea a ‘goer’ in the first place, have others succeeded with similar ideas, and are there likely to be the right kind of customers to eventually sell your product to. We’ve spoken a lot before about the idea of the ‘customer avatar’, and this should feed into your market research closely.
Do the people you want to sell to, actually want or need the thing you want to sell to them?
You won’t know, until you market it to them.
Involve them in the process.
We’re talking colour schemes, logos, font types and font sizes. Don’t be shy to ask for the opinions of your target market in the early stages, but don’t stay within your comfort zone. Friends and family will want to believe in your every idea, they’ll back you and say things look good, even when they’re not quite right.
When building a brand, you have to be confident with what you’re marketing, which is why an ‘it’ll do for now’ approach is rarely the best way to go.
We work with business owners who have a fantastic idea, a brilliant level of service, and a real enthusiasm to succeed, but who lack the knowledge to be able to craft that into a brand that people instantly think of when they need a service or want a product.
If that’s you, you don’t need to worry. You don’t know what you don’t know.
You do need to act though. Start by taking an honest look at how consistent your branding is right now. Call it a brand review if you like, but make sure you’re honest with yourself.
Here’s a fictional example…
Meet our plumber. ‘Mr. Taps & Son’.
Hi Mr. Taps!
He’s known in the area because he does a good job, at a good price, but still finds the larger and more desirable contracts hard to find.
So, how much a month on advertising does Mr. Taps spend?
A couple of hundred a month on boosted Facebook ads.
OK, at least it’s something.
Is your logo easily recognisable?
Well, we had a logo done from my son’s mate, but it’s not on the van and it’s not the same one on the Facebook page.
How’s the website coming along?
Not done anything on it in a few years. It’s probably got the wrong email address and phone number on it.
But the photographs are good on there, right?
Oh yeah, I took them on an iPhone and uploaded them myself.
And the contact details now? What are they?
The email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
I give up!
OK, as we said, this is a fictional account, but it’s something that is so common throughout the world of small business owners.
A much more effective strategy would be to devote some serious time, attention (and yes, money) to the marketing process.
Get the logo done properly, keep it consistent and clear, across everything from the work wear to the invoices.
Seek professional advice on where to spend the money on advertising, and on how much to spend.
Invest in a website, or at least an online presence, that is personal, professional and purposeful.
Get professional photographs on there, professional copy too. Don’t go for the ‘it’ll do for now’ approach, because it’s never just ‘for now’.
Make sure your brand name is easy to recognise, so that people know it’s you. In our fictional account, our plumber, Alan Johnson was using his own personal email for his company ‘Mr. Taps & Son…’
How would people know it was the same business?!
We can’t stress enough, that this isn’t an overnight fix. To build a brand takes time, energy and expense.
But it’s all worth it.
And when you see how much difference a brand can make when it comes to sales, you’ll be able to draw your own conclusions as to why it’s worth it.
So that’s what’s up next, sales, because remember, sales and marketing are two very different things.