Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just buy a handful of media ads, slap up a website and a Facebook page, then watch the phone calls or customers start pouring in?
Of course, if you already dip regularly into your advertising budget, you probably already know that’s not the case. And while every ad salesperson tells you they have the golden key that’ll surely boost your business’s bottom line, the reality is there’s no such thing—at least, there’s not one specific golden key that unlocks the door to an endless stream of new and repeat clients or buyers.
On the other hand, there are those marketing experts who will say that, unlike Kevin Costner in the famed movie from which I stole the title to this post, you can’t just “build it and they will come.”
To that, the Word Genie says, “Hogwash.”
In fact, that’s exactly what you need to do to grow your customer base and, ultimately, your business. Getting more people to find you and buy from you isn’t about pouring your hard earned cash haphazardly into advertising, or throwing money at creating a website and social media pages.
It’s about building your marketing campaigns from the ground up. It’s about being as methodical and thorough about how you market your business as you are at running it. And it’s about making the marketing part of running your business as important as hiring the right employees, producing the best products or services and making sure your taxes get paid on time.
In other words, stop treating your small business advertising as an afterthought.
So, how do you build a marketing field of dreams that will make more customers come to your business?
- Don’t spend another red cent on advertising your business until you have a plan. I mean it. Don’t buy a Yellow Page ad, don’t make a TV commercial, don’t hire your babysitter to tweet or write Facebook posts for you—just stop spending for right now. There are other things you need to do first before whipping out your checkbook or credit card.
- Know exactly what your business goals are. Do you need more bookings, appointments, reservations? Do you want to increase your sales during what tends to be your slow season, or would you rather boost business to capacity during your busiest times? Would you like to see more college kids, young professionals, baby boomers or whomever spend money with you? Write down or record whatever these goals are. Your answers to questions like these will play a large role in when, how and where you spend your ad budget.
- Know how you want people to know you and/or your business. Are you the cheapest? Fastest? Friendliest? Most experienced? Would you consider yourself to be fun to work with or no nonsense? If you get stuck here, ask your current customers how they might describe you or your business—they might just provide you with the words you need to come up with a new, effective slogan or help you identify your target audience.
OK, stop reading right here and now and work on your answers to numbers two and three above. Ah-ah-ah, I said put down that credit card. Just for now. You can pick it back up in a little while, when you’re ready to spend your ad budget more wisely.
Stay tuned for part two of this post.