Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Best Way to Market Your Business

The Best Way to Market Your Business? There's no magic bullet.
One question seems ubiquitous among new business owners: "What is the best way to market my [insert niche business idea here] business?"

I see two problems with this question. First, the question seeks a silver bullet, a magic bullet, whatever bullet that can cause the product, service, or business take off in a viral message campaign that crushes sales projections. Second, the question shows the high focus on the business idea as something different as if what works for other companies can't possibly work for this business.

So let's address these two concerns first in answering the question.

First things first, magic bullets are hard to come by. People stumble across them, to be sure, but if you intend to plan your business around them, you might also want to buy a few lottery tickets. That said, when the pot's big enough, lottery sales go through the roof. So take a moonshot every now and again. Just don't assume that's your bread and butter.

As for the idea that your business is so different, you're right. Your business is a special snowflake, unique in every single way, just like every other snowflake. Except snowflakes are only unique in pattern. They all are made of frozen water. They all fall from the sky. The same weather conditions create all of them. For millions of years. So when you think about marketing, you might want to focus on how you can use similar techniques to other companies to attract customers rather than different ones.

So as a new business owner, what do you really need to do?

Create a Multi-threaded Plan

First off, instead of just haphazardly trying things, you need to take some time to actually think through your strategy and create a marketing plan. 

Your marketing plan needs to have multiple channels as well. You can't just rely on one or two methods to get the word out. Instead, just like large marketing departments do, you need to include elements from all kinds of marketing strategies. Traditional marketing, content marketing, social media, referral programs, retargeting or remarketing, affiliate networks, and interaction between your brand or representative and potential customers on aggregation platforms (like Quora or Medium) could all be a part of your plan (as well as whatever other mechanisms you can think of).

Track Your Results

As you create multiple channels, you need to find ways to track the results of each prong of your plan. What good is having a bunch of marketing efforts if you don't know whether they are actually resulting in sales?

I know a company that takes out ads in various magazines, for example, and includes a toll free number. However, they put a different number in every advertisement that they purchase. This strategy allows them to track inbound calls to different numbers to understand what advertisements are generating the most inbound calls.

The internet offers even more opportunities to track the results of your online marketing, but again it requires a bit of planning to determine your source and target information and how you go about determining what methods succeed for you.

Test and Adjust

A common marketing strategy is called A/B testing. Basically, you create two potential marketing avenues and then measure their results before declaring a winner. 

What succeeds, though, is continuing this process. In the boxing ring, there is always a challenger to the champion. I used to love when radio stations would do a nightly countdown and see if one song would beat out the others to be the best of the day. The competition continually improved the output and would, sometimes for weeks at a time, validate that the winner was, in fact, the best song of the time.

When you approach your marketing with a challenger that you think not only worthy to take on but also potentially defeat the reigning champion campaign, you challenge yourself to perform better and learn to continue growth even on top of your successes.

Once you get your results from your tests and efforts, you have to adjust. Perhaps you adjust by running yet another A/B test against the winner of the first. Perhaps you try some different channels to see if they perform better (if you didn't figure it out, that's also an A/B test).  Regardless what you do, the concept is to continue to test your methodologies and adjust your approach.


You have a very low probability of winning the lottery, and a pretty similar likelihood of finding a magic bullet in marketing where you can just "do one thing" and have your business take off.

Instead, you have to formulate a structured approach, where you try many different types of marketing, track the results, and then adjust appropriately to make sure you get the best return on your marketing investments.

If you want to go deeper into this topic, drop me a note and let me know from the contact section. I'd love to continue the conversation with you.