AGS Conclave: Small Businesses Must Market Smarter

Companies today need to take a more systematic approach to marketing, John Jantsch, author of Duct Tape Marketing, said in an April 27 seminar on “The Seven Steps to Small Business Marketing Success” at the American Gem Society Conclave in Miami.

“Very few business owners have a real marketing strategy,” he said. “If we take a systematic approach, we don’t fall prey to the idea of the week. That’s a danger of a conference like this, someone says you have to go on Facebook, and everyone goes on Facebook.”

He defined marketing as “getting someone who has a need to know, like, and trust you.”

The three key elements of a marketing strategy are: Identify your ideal client, define a core point of differentiation, and connect the dots.

The first step—identifying your clients—means really understanding what they want.

“You have to locate them,” Jantsch said. “Where do they hang out? What do they read? What do they listen to? What do they search for online?”

As part of their research, he said that people should interview their clients.

“Talk to them,” he said. “Why did they buy? What was one thing they loved? What frustrates them?”

“Really push them,” he continued. “If they say you provide good service, ask them: ‘What does good service mean to you?’ I guarantee you will hear the things that your customers truly value. And I guarantee they are not the things you are doing in your marketing.”

Businesses should use those insights to develop a true point of differentiation.

“Go to five or six competitors and copy the first paragraph on their website,” he said. “And pass it around to your employees and see if anyone can identify one from another. Put yours on there as well. The real eye-opening thing is everyone is saying the exact same thing. Your opportunity to differentiate is huge, because no one else is actually differentiating.”

Other tips:

  • Make sure you contact a consumer after their purchase to find out if it has met their expectations.

“Only three things can happen,” he said. “One, you will get a testimonial. Two, they will tell you about something that didn’t work so well, but by calling them you will get the opportunity to fix it. The third is that they are going to buy more. I don’t think that any of those are bad results.”

He notes that every time someone uses his company’s service, they receive an email with one question: “On a scale of one to 10, how likely is that you will refer them to another business?”

“If they answer from seven to 10, they are referred to another page, where they are given an opportunity to write a testimonial,” he said. “And if they answer four to six, we send them to a page and ask them why they are not happy. And if they answer to one to three, we get a text message, and we call them and find out what’s wrong.”

  • One of the best ways to draw people to your website is a blog, which needs to be filled with useful content.

Your posts can “be as simple as, here is something we are asked during the day, and then answer it in 200 words,” he said. “And that content you produce will serve your business really forever.”

To attract search engines, fill your posts with terms that you specialize in.

“So if you are writing about a post on diamond engagement rings, I would use that term in the title and then find another way to use that term in the article,” he said.

If writing is not your thing, consider hiring a local journalist, perhaps someone who has been laid off from a local newspaper.

“They have been trained to produce 500 words by the end of the day about something that they know nothing about,” he said.

  • Another way to attract people to your site: Add local content.

“I would find a way to add a whole page to my site about community events, particularly in the arts,” he said. “Think in terms of being a community resource.”

  • Facebook advertising lets you deliver your message to consumers in your local area in surprisingly specific ways.

“There is no other vehicle that targets so thoroughly,” he said. “You can say: Show me people in a certain area that are in a relationship or have just gotten engaged. You can even target someone who has visited your competitors’ Facebook page.”