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10 Things you Need to Know About Your Marketing: The Short List

marketing strategy

You may have started your business based on the school of hard knocks experience. You didn’t study marketing. You got in to business to run a business. Working with a marketing professional or a professional mentor can save you a lot of time and effort and help flatten the learning curve if you can learn from them while they are helping you with your marketing. But what if you have to go it alone?

Many small business owners are successful at both running and marketing their businesses. It can certainly be done…but those impromptu marketers may not know if what they are doing is working – or how well.

There are plenty more than 10 things your business needs to know about marketing, but we’ve pulled together just a few of the most important.

10 things you need to know about your marketing

Here they are in no particular order:

  1. DIY websites are fine for single stream businesses or those who don’t sell (or want to) online or need much functionality. For a good user experience, your website needs to be professionally designed with full consideration given to readability, SEO, and how it works for the user. DIY sites may work fine but may not grow with your business.
  2. One social media platform does not fit all. Yes, you probably need Facebook. And Google My Business. And maybe LinkedIn for business-to-business. But if you’re jumping on every social bandwagon, you may be wasting time and effort promoting where your audience isn’t even playing. 
  3. You have to play with google. Google is the No 1 search engine in the world; doesn’t it make sense that you should know and use its tools if you want to show up in search results? Google My Business, Google Analytics, Google Trends, Google Ads (and don’t forget google owns YouTube) are the tools you need to know to get found in searches.
  4. Thinking like a seller won’t help your SEO. You have to think like the buyer. What words or phrases would folks type into a search bar to find your business or service? Those are the words you want to focus on getting on your sites. Don’t talk tech to me…talk to me!
  5. You may well be the “brand” for your business. That doesn’t mean you don’t have to market (or that you can use your personal Facebook profile to promote your business), it simply means you have to market differently. Social media, in particular, is about having a conversation with others. Show yourself. Show your personality. Show your environment. People like to know about people.
  6. You don’t need a presence on every social/digital platform out there. (see #2). Yes, there are some go-to channels, but, trying to have a presence on every single channel is exhausting and may not be necessary. You can’t cover them all – radio, tv, direct, email, Insta, snapchat, Pinterest, clubhouse, tiktok (I could go on but it’s making me tired). Do a little market research to see which tools your target audience is using most. Women over 60=Facebook. Business-to-Business=LinkedIn. Entertainment/Food/Bev=Instagram, and so on.
  7. You need to be a good writer to do marketing. Words sell your ideas and products. Words your audience can understand and comprehend sell your products and ideas to people better! If you know you’re not a great writer, or can’t really find the ‘voice’ of your business, it may be time to ask for help. At the very least, spell check and grammar check by drafting your social posts or website content in Word or Google Docs.
  8. You can’t grow a business without at least a little marketing. The days of word-of-mouth are fewer and farther apart these days. If you have a business, and you’re still open in spite of the 2020 pandemic, you HAVE to tell people you’re open. Marketing isn’t just for selling; it also keeps people aware of you and your business and the hours, offerings, and policies. Customers need that.
  9. You have to look at the data. The first thing we do with new clients is make sure Google Analytics is connected to their website so we can determine what’s happening already. User behaviors on your sites can dictate several things: 1) what they like; 2) what they don’t like; 3) what pages they visit; 4) how long they spend on the page…and so much more. Follow the data to learn what messaging works best and what channel is giving you the best return.
  10. You can’t do it alone. You may have started your business based on the school of hard knocks experience. You didn’t study marketing. You didn’t major in journalism. You’re not a professional photographer or web designer. It’s not what you got into business to do. You got in to business to run a business. Working with a marketing professional or a professional mentor can save you a lot of time and effort and help flatten the learning curve if you can learn from them while they are helping you with your marketing.

I could probably come up with 10 more things you have to take into consideration before launching a marketing plan for your business, but luckily, you don’t have to go it alone. There are a LOT of resources from the GKBRN partners to help you strategize and spend your marketing dollars where they will make you the most bang for your buck.

After all, while marketing nowadays isn’t “supposed” to be about selling, let’s admit it…sales is still the driving force behind most any marketing plan and it’s the way to the buyer’s heart. Just make sure you’re not trying to spread yourself too thin…and when you need help, ask.

Marketing Resources: Creating a Marketing Plan

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—Client

WMU Business Connection logo

Whether you are seeking a research partner or want to enlist the help of student groups in developing business plans, or just looking for ways to engage with WMU, the Business Connection office can find the resource to help move your business forward.

—Mentor

A loan (from Local Initiatives Support Corporation) helped expand our cafe to triple our seating, add a kids space, increase much needed staff work areas, and make other improvements to the space.

—Krystal

MEL logo

The Michigan eLibrary (MeL) is the State of Michigan’s digital library. It has excellent resources available to Michigan residents at no cost.

—Owner

Western Michigan University’s Starting Gate helped me take an idea and transform it into a much more attainable reality. Whether providing talks with investors and business owners or accountability, the ultimate goal is helping your business succeed.

—Peter Shutt

Kalamazoo County Land Bank logo

The Kalamazoo Land Bank did robust community engagement around the vision and gave us something to work with that was solidly desired by people in the neighborhood. Having a vision meant we had to protect it. That’s something I thank the Land Bank for. It was difficult. It didn’t make anything faster or easier, but we got a better project in the end as a result of it.

—Matt Hollander

Buy Local logo

Buy Local Greater Kalamazoo is a hard working grassroots group focused on the greater Kalamazoo community and its small businesses. Their events and networking opportunities are the best!

—Cheri Bales

SBDC logo

Michigan SBDC is a great company providing top notch service to local businesses all over Michigan. The consultants are professional and the student workers contribute with excellent work!

—Martin Herman Sorensen

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If you have any questions about starting, growing, or anything business related SCORE Kalamazoo/SW Michigan is a great resource.

—Taylor Kallio

The Fetzer Center has anything you could ever want for any occasion. The facilities are beautiful, the food is great and the staff is excellent! I have hosted an event and been to an event at the Fetzer and both experiences have been excellent. Mary does a marvelous job!

—Diane Holmes

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