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Managing a Business, Marketing Tips

Approaching business like a pro

Anyone who owns or runs a small business knows that it’s multidisciplinary. While having an area of expertise is ideal, it isn’t enough. A broad understanding of each key area of your business is a necessity — even if you wouldn’t be bold enough to call yourself an expert in them.

In this article, we’ll focus on how to get people to notice your business and then how to market to them in the short and long term. By breaking it down into three key areas, you’ll be able to optimize each individually. It becomes too easy to view business as one homogenous, never-ending list of tasks, to the point where the lines blur about what we’re actually doing in a big-picture sense.

Meet the experts: Neeshea and Isabel

Two small business owners (who are also past winners of our Powered by Namecheap program) are along for the ride. We asked them to contribute their thoughts, strategies, and personal experiences to help us build a clearer picture. They are:

Isabel Mauro https://isabelsguide.com
Isabel is an experienced digital marketer who started her own blog about how to succeed in your online business. Her main goal is to help entrepreneurs grow their businesses, generate sales, and attract leads without any extra stress. Her revenue comes from helping businesses strategize the plans that will lead them to achieve these goals.

Neeshea Ho-Shing — https://www.boomdigitalmarketing.co
Neeshea is the founder of Boom Digital Marketing. Boom focuses on using the most recent technologies to help brands grow and achieve their goals. They specialize in branding, marketing, website development, and so much more, providing business owners with tools and resources to expand their online presence. 

Managing & understanding your products/services

Knowing what your business does inside and out is the first step to really understanding how to sell it. It’s more than just defining yourself by what you do (hairdresser, e-commerce store, etc.). It’s about conveying a particular message — almost a vibe, in some cases — that encapsulates what you do.

Why it’s important 

To produce marketing materials, or even understand targeting data, you must first clearly understand what your business does in a way that can be clearly conveyed. It’s likely that this will be determined by the products or services you offer and why people would choose you to purchase them. Whether it’s carefully selecting the right selection of products to sell, or clearly defining the service you offer, careful consideration is required when deciding what makes your business special. This will, in turn, allow you to easily convey what you do as a unique selling proposition (USP) (via advertising) to your customers.

Curating carefully

A USP needn’t be something truly ‘unique.’ In fact, it’s probably better if it isn’t — new products or concepts are notoriously hard to launch and require a lot more advertising than something people are familiar with. 

Your USP will much more likely be something you do well, or slightly differently, from competitors. For example, if you’re aiming to be a bijou company selling stylish clothing or homeware, one way to add value as a business is to have an eye for choosing desirable items that will intrigue and delight your customers and also complement one another. Similarly, if you’re a discount retailer priding yourself on price, your eye for low-cost items you can sell in high quantities is the added value. Here, stock cohesion isn’t going to be as important, but hunting down the low price point from a variety of suppliers is. 

If you’re in a service business, curating the customer experience carefully is the equivalent of the above. You must think through every part in detail and lose extraneous elements to streamline your offering over time. 

In both cases, investing your time adds value to your business proposition. Boom’s USP is its approach to marketing and the process it uses to shape a campaign by interacting with its clients. Meanwhile, Isobel’s blog contains unique articles she curates, so the content (as well as her approach to education) sets her apart from competitors.

Both have evolved their offerings over time and have honed in the areas they particularly want to focus on. But even so, Neeshea cautions against too much unnecessary change:

“We only change where it’s really needed. We’ve found it’s better to build on what we have unless a new change really gives us more time or another efficiency.”

Suppliers are worth their weight in gold

Whatever your business does, it will need supplies. From consumables (paper, pens, loo roll), to the stock you sell, finding good value suppliers is essential. 

While neither Neeshea nor Isabel’s businesses have the primary goal of reselling products, Isabel’s business does sell some physical items — like books. Despite this, both emphasize the importance of relationships with their suppliers, highlighting how communication is a key factor. Also, how researching suppliers is important. A supplier that acts unethically or has poor business practices could reflect badly on your business if this ever comes to light, especially if your brand trades on a good reputation (which it should).

Inventory management

Isabel notes that effective inventory management is key to her success. Tracking stock levels in real-time and setting clear re-order points (using a ‘just-in-time’ order system) prevents her from overstocking. This can be quite technical to set up, so if you aren’t able to do that in the short term, estimate how long it will take to turn your stock back into cash (liquidity), based on past trends, before placing an order. Because even your best-selling product could become a liability if you over-buy and the market changes. Spread risk over (for example) your top ten products, and never hold so much stock that you don’t have the cash to pay other bills. 

Marketing 

With what you sell and why now clearly in mind, it’s time to pitch your business to potential customers who have never heard of it. 

Why it’s important 

Marketing is the lifeblood of your business. Without it, nobody will know who you are or what you do. Even a physical shop that people are walking past needs a sign — marketing in perhaps its most basic form. 

Lately, marketing has gone from an art into a science — it’s never been more targeted, and trackable than it is today. This complexity poses both advantages and risks depending on how you engage with it. On the one hand, it’s easier than ever to reach the right people. On the other hand, an algorithm can eat up your entire marketing budget in an hour if you don’t manage it carefully. It’s worth reading up on how to manage your marketing budget in detail before you start.

Targeted marketing

Isabel and Neeshea take a data-driven approach, utilizing the tools offered by platforms like Google Ads and Microsoft Advertising, both of which offer detailed insight into exactly how the campaigns perform and why. 

It’s also easy to set goals on these platforms and target people who are most likely to engage with your brand based on some quite specific metrics. For example, Isabel targets her customers by demographics, interests, and behaviors. She also utilizes retargeting strategies to re-engage visitors who have shown interest but have not yet converted.

Boom also utilizes re-marketing to target people who did business with them before. Neeshea explains,

“As our client pool increases, we use historical data to target our clients more effectively. We have also narrowed our focus to a smaller audience, prioritizing high-quality clients with larger budgets.” 

It’s worth noting that re-targeting isn’t for everyone. Some may want their marketing to go on reaching those who have never interacted with their brand before and focus other campaigns on retention of existing customers (we’ll look at these shortly).

With platforms like these, the key metric is ROAS (Return on Ad Spend). For this to work properly, you have to let the platform know what a conversion means on your site, and there are several ways you can define this (for example, a customer arriving on your checkout page, or even your shopping cart). By setting up conversion tracking, the marketing algorithm can learn how best to target your products/services. It’s the pièce de résistance of this kind of advertising, and is the metric you’ll use when it comes to tweaking the campaign. It might be removing poorly performing products or ones that are swallowing a disproportionate amount of 

Content-driven

Isabel also uses a more content-driven approach alongside targeted ads. This kind of advertising tends to excel on social media, where content is king, so Meta is a good starting point here, with options like promoted posts that champion the sharing of content rather than advertising. Describing her content, she says,

“I create valuable and relevant content that addresses the pain points and interests of my target audience, which helps to attract organic traffic. Then, I engage with followers, share insights, and promote my services.”

By utilizing content she already has, social media advertising helps Isabel reach people who are interested in her brand. They’re a less direct approach to sales, but the cost per engagement tends to be much less because of this.

Learn from their experience

As we mentioned, it can be easy to spend large amounts of money on advertising that doesn’t pay off. With this in mind, we asked Isabel and Neeshea what they would do differently if they were starting again, and distilled their answers into these tips.

Their marketing tips:

  • Don’t do what you think your customers want. Conduct thorough market research to know exactly what they want.
  • Monitor marketing carefully, and quickly cull any campaigns that aren’t resonating with your audience. 
  • Don’t create content that is focused on showing off your business; instead, focus on solving your customers’ problems. 
  • Don’t neglect the personalized touch in client interactions. 
  • Don’t spread your budget too thinly across too many channels. Focus on platforms where your clients are most active.

Maintaining a flourishing customer base  

Whatever your business and your approach, it’s worth remembering that every single customer is important and represents the opportunity to get another sale later. This is a window of opportunity that you want to keep open. This is called retention, and it’s sort of creating a ‘friends and family’ for your business.

Why it’s important

Retention is a way of making the money you’ve spent on past campaigns work for you a second time. In one sense, it’s simple: Deliver an experience that makes your customers happy, and they will want to come back. But there are ways you can cultivate it.

Ways you can encourage growth

  • Show your customers they are valued – this could be in subtle ways, like a simple ‘thank you’, or by offering a loyalty scheme or money off their next order.
  • Marketing subscriptions – this is the main one, and we will look at this in some more detail.
  • Solve problems quickly – one bad review is worth ten good ones. By solving problems when initial complaints come in, you will nip issues in the bud.

Marketing subscriptions

By this, we mean anything your customers must opt in to. This could be a newsletter, a promo email, or something else entirely. It has to make them feel part of a ‘club’ by offering something they wouldn’t otherwise get — even if it’s just information.

Isabel finds that email marketing allows her to maintain a direct line of communication with her audience, offering personalized content and special promotions. This kind of engagement is priceless. You end up with a sort of impromptu fan club of people who feel good about supporting your business rather than viewing it as just another place they shop.

But, as a person-oriented business, she also utilizes other methods for outreach. As Isabel tells us, 

“I also use video calls and LinkedIn. Email and video calls allow for personalized and direct communication, while LinkedIn offers a platform for more interactive and engaging conversations with new potential clients who are getting to know me and my services.”

You can set up email marketing relatively easily without any initial cost implications. Add information capture boxes wherever it seems logical on your website, allowing people to subscribe. 

Stand back and admire the bigger picture

While it’s important for a small business owner to be familiar with every operation, it’s also vital not to lose sight of the bigger picture. If someone asks you where you see your business in a year’s time, you should always have an answer without having to think too hard.

Neeshea aims to expand Boom’s consulting services, offering strategic insights and guidance to help businesses grow even further. 

“We plan to integrate more advanced AI technologies into our offerings while maintaining the personalized touch that sets us apart. Additionally, by subcontracting our design and marketing work, we aim to streamline operations and focus on delivering high-value, strategic solutions to our clients. Our goal is to be recognized as a leader in AI-driven marketing and consulting, with a strong portfolio of successful client transformations.”

Isabel wants to expand her reach and, in doing so, increase revenue. 

“Specifically, I plan to launch new service offerings, enhance my content marketing strategy, and build stronger partnerships with key players in the industry. My goal is to continue providing exceptional value to my clients and helping more small businesses succeed online.”

Over to you

Business is a creative trial-and-error process, and no two are alike. Perhaps the only universal thing is the necessity to engage, in some way, with every element we’ve talked about here and have something you’re aiming for in a wider sense. By planning your customer journey in the way we’ve outlined here, you will hopefully gain a greater understanding of what your business is doing and why. 

Let us know your thoughts, opinions, and ideas in the comments. 

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James Long avatar

James Long

Jamie is a writer and composer based in London, England. He has been Creative Lab Copywriter for Namecheap since July 2017. Before that, he was a professional copywriter for Freeview, Eventim, and Emotech. When he’s not coming up with snappy taglines and irresistible call-to-actions, Jamie writes comedy and musical theatre. More articles written by James.

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