Keeping up with the latest competitive maneuvers in your marketplace is important to keeping your small business at the top of its game. Traditional tools, such as using a SWOT analysis, to assess your organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, can be very helpful in identifying course-corrections or strategy-shifts that you need to act upon. However, the level of effort required can be time-consuming, relegating this activity to the bottom of the small business manager’s ”to-do” list.
While a deep dive analysis can be important to your business health, you can quickly monitor what’s going on in your industry by simply using your browser. At a minimum, you can quickly check the pulse of your market by doing some searches that could identify companies that could potentially impact your business down the road.
On a regular basis, say once or twice a month, do a Google search on your main search keyword phrases, and then see who is coming up.
- Are your search rankings changing?
- Are there new players coming up that you haven’t seen before?
- Has a key player slipped on the page one results of Google?
Let’s say that your organization is a technology company providing document management software to the legal industry. You might have one of your main keyword phrases be “legal records software” or something similar. Even though you may have optimized your site for this keyword phrase, and use it in your press releases, web page content, etc., it’s important to monitor the ever-changing competitive landscape.
Additionally, it’s important to do a search on your company name and product names, and see if anyone of your competitors is doing “paid search” campaigns, such as pay-per-click advertising, on your own branded terms. And lastly, don’t forget Twitter, the social media micro-blogging service that provides a real-time tracking engine for hot topics. Twitter Search provides another easy and free tool, where you can input your keyword phrases and branded terms to see what is going out there in the social universe. You can easily learn more about:
- Who is being tweeted about and why?
- What articles are being published about my competitors?
- What do people have to say about my brand?
By using these easy competitive analysis exercises, you can avoid competitive surprises and keep your small business brand in tip, top shape!
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The practice of advertising can seem overwhelming to small business marketers, viewed by most as appropriate only for large corporations with big ad budgets. Actually, when used properly and in a targeted fashion, advertising can be a powerful tool in the small business marketer’s tool box. Advertising is designed to build awareness for a particular product or service, and is a cost-effective way to get a consistent message communicated out to a large group of people. The first step, before pursuing any type of advertising investment, is to define the marketing objectives for your company, and then determine whether advertising is a good fit or not.
A key marketing objective for any small business to promote their thought leadership, or business expertise. Many small businesses overlook marketing what they do on a daily basis, when in fact, sharing some of their knowledge in a webinar event, or speaking at an industry trade show, can be a great way to showcase the value they provide. This can be done by hosting and promoting an educational-themed event where company executives or subject matter experts share their industry perspectives. Another idea is to share a company’s best practices, or customer research findings.
It does not cost much money to hire a local graphic designer and copy writer to craft a simple, professional ad layout around your “business expertise” content. Advertising your expertise works well, because readers will respond positively to offers of educational value because, especially when researching new solutions. Featured ads in targeted publications and websites can be very effective in branding your company as a thought-leader. Running fractional ads in local business sections of newspapers, or in industry association newsletters, can provide any small business marketer with a lot traction among prospective customers.
As part of your advertising strategy, be sure to include a compelling “call-to-action” or next step that your prospects can take to get more information. For example, a link to a recorded event, or an offer for a free white paper, or case study on a topic important to your customers. Again, targeting print ads in vertical industry magazines or conference programs, or local business journals, as well as online banner ads in those same venues, can be an economical way to get started in advertising. Just remember to stay focused, and avoid the mass media outlets that reach a broad user profile, such as TV or radio, because those can be very expensive and not very targeted to your audience.
Often times, small business marketers can feel the pinch of a tight marketing budget. If you are one of these individuals, don’t despair – there are ways to leverage your everyday business activities and successes that can really help. The customers your organization deals with on a daily basis represent a ‘smart marketing play’ to any business. Why? Because they help you to build credibility and trust with potential prospects.
@SMB_Marketer recently tweeted about a great article on this topic, called ”How to Effectively Use Testimonials,” by Neil Patel on his blog, QuickSprout. View the tweet and article link at:
The article talks about the value of customer testimonials, as well as tips on how to create them, including using testimonials from organizations that are relevant to your target market, incorporating specific product benefits, and using them in ways that support a specific claim that you make. One of the best ways to get customer testimonials is to issue press releases on your customer wins.
Remember, your work should not stop after the deal comes in. Promoting customer wins are critical to building momentum for your organization, because they create credibility within your marketplace, and help you to establish a proven track record. Small business marketers will agree that having reference-able customers is must.The goal of SMBmarketer.com is to provide smart marketing templates to small business owners and managers to help them get started. If you are looking for easy, step-by-step templates for writing press releases, consider the Press Release Tutor™, an interactive template that takes answers to basic questions about your business, and turns them into well-written press releases, instantly!
However, writing press releases to promote your new customer wins can be challenging when you are not sure how to create the right message. But dont’ let that stop you – there are easy, actionable press release templates available that can walk small business marketers step by step through the process of crafting a solid message, that is clear, concise and compelling. Not only can press releases be posted to your website, sent to journalists and media outlets, but they are a great conversation starter for your sales teams to send to existing accounts and new prospects. See below for more information on getting started writing press releases.