I had a great meeting recently with a startup business that was looking for some advice on how to promote themselves effectively despite a really tight budget. Interestingly, the advice I gave them was basically the same advice I had presented to a multi-billion dollar company earlier in the week.
- Don’t try to be everything to everyone! It’s really tempting to “cast a bigger net” by offering heaps of different things to heaps of different people. It feels like you’ll get more customers that way, but (sadly) you won’t. It just makes your brand kinda vague and non-specific, making it hard for anyone to get excited about what you do. Get specific! Let people know exactly what you do, and for whom you do it.
- Don’t act like your competitors! Have you ever noticed that most industries tend to drift toward a certain look? It’s not because that particular look (whatever it may be) actually accomplishes anything. It’s really just the result of years and years of companies imitating each other, all trying to look legitimate. Don’t fall into this trap! Your insecurity sucks at marketing. Smash your industry’s stereotypes, do something different and remarkable, and make a name for yourself already. Give people something new they can fall in love with.
- Don’t make crap up as you go! This is the simplest and most powerful thing you can do for your marketing (and your business in general): Sit down and come up with 4-5 keywords that deeply, truly express what your business is all about. Not the generic stuff (e.g., reliable, trustworthy, etc.) or the same ones everyone else claims — but rather, the unique character only your company brings to the market. Then, make those words your constitution, your bible, your mantra. Measure everything in your business against them, and get rid of everything that doesn’t fit. Everything you say or do in your business should smell like those keywords. Figure out who you are, and then be exactly that, as obsessively as you possibly can. There’s no way your competition can catch up to that kind of focus.
That’s it. Easiest marketing plan ever. Stop doing those things, and your business will blast off!