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The Most Common Marketing Challenge Small Businesses Face And How To Solve It

The Most Common Marketing Challenge Small Businesses Face And How To Solve It

After offering marketing and branding services to small businesses and entrepreneurs for over 13 years, I’ve noticed one common challenge they all face — they don’t have a purpose-driven story that’s aligned to their customers’ needs.

What exists instead is a story that is patched together, continually changing, that tries to please everyone and doesn’t ultimately honor their original existence. Overall, their story is inconsistent across the brand and usually only focuses on them. This results in their ideal customers struggling to connect with the brand or even establish how the business addresses their needs.

So why are so many businesses getting it wrong?

There are probably a number of reasons why companies skip this crucial step to sustainably build their business.

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One reason could be due to the ever-changing customer landscape which drives different marketing demands and needs. Another reason could be that while initially having a clear purpose about the product or service they want to offer the world, somewhere along the path to making a profit a company’s reason for existence and clarity on who they are serving was lost in their story, or was never communicated to start with.

Most businesses and entrepreneurs are stuck in a WHAT or HOW story. What their product does, what services they are offering, or how their product or service compares to others in the marketplace. Although this information is important to communicate, it should come secondary.

Marketing is essentially about communicating to your target audience why your product or service is the best solution for their needs and getting them to take action. Whether you use marketing psychology, branding, or the latest online viral techniques, achieving this is the main purpose behind your actions.

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What can be done to get it right?

Whether I’ve been engaged as head of marketing, to build a website, develop a brand, or to complete copywriting for a company, I always start with a business visioning exercise to build the business foundation and develop a purpose-based story. Without this, all my efforts are wasted and will continually need to be duplicated as the story changes.

Advertising dollars and good marketing teams can’t make up for an unclear story and brand. If you aren’t clear on your purpose and whom you are serving, then how will your customers be clear you are the best solution to their needs? As companies evolve and pivot their services and products, the original purpose of the company shouldn’t change. Having a purpose-driven story in place allows you to survive even when market conditions or the company focus changes.

In this information age where customers have more choice, the demand for personalization and relevancy in their communications from businesses needs to become the norm. Companies still stuck in “it’s all about us” stories will automatically lose to companies incorporating their purpose into their “it’s all about you” story to their customers.

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In a nutshell, customers care about themselves and how a product or service is going to improve their lives. They connect through emotions, which can be communicated through a vision/movement and pointing out how you can address their pain points.

To create a purpose-driven story that aligns to your customers needs, the following questions need to be clearly addressed and communicated:

  • The ultimate purpose of your business
  • The why, how, and what of your business
  • Your brand personality
  • What problem you are solving in the marketplace
  • Who your customers are and their needs
  • The challenges your customers face and what solutions you offer
  • Your company language and main keywords

Investing time and money in this investigative and creative process, whether internally or through a marketing and branding consultant, will save your business time and money in the long run.

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Featured photo credit: Death to the stock photo via deathtothestockphoto.com

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Kelly Weiss

Purpose-driven business + lifestyle coach

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Last Updated on November 19, 2018

How to Find a Suitable Professional Mentor

How to Find a Suitable Professional Mentor

I went through a personal experience that acted as a catalyst for an epiphany. When I got fired from a job, I learned something important about myself and where I was headed with my freelance career. I realized that the most important aspect of that one rather small job was the influence of the company owner. I realized that I wasn’t hurt that the company and I weren’t a perfect match; I was devastated by the stark fact that I needed a mentor and I had almost found one but lost her.

Suddenly, I felt like J.D., the main character in “Scrubs,” chasing Dr. Cox and trying to rip insight and wisdom from someone I respect. The realization that a recognized thought-leader and experienced entrepreneur severed ties with me felt crushing. But, I picked myself back up and thought about five ways to acquire a mentor without having the awkwardness of outright asking.

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1. Remember, a professional mentorship must be mutual.

A professional mentor must agree to engage in a mutual relationship because, as the comedy T.V. series showed us, one simply cannot force someone to tutor us. We have to prove that we are worth the time investment through persistence and dedication to the craft.

2. You have to have common interests with your mentor.

Even if a professional mentor appears at your job or school, realize that unless you and this person have common interests, you won’t find the relationship successful. I’ve been in situations where someone I respected had vastly different ideas about what was important in life or what one should spend his or her free time doing. If these things don’t line up, you may find the relationship won’t be as fruitful, even when the mentor knows a great deal about one industry.

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3. Thought-leaders will respect your passion.

One of the ways you can prove yourself worthy to a professional mentor is through your passion and your dedication. No one wants to spend time grooming and teaching another who will not take advice or put the effort in to improve. When following thought-leaders on Twitter and trying to engage with higher-ups in a work setting, realize that your actions most often speak louder than your words.

4. Before worrying if he respects you, ask if you respect him.

On the other side of the coin, you should seriously reflect on those common interests and make sure you respect your professional mentor. Just because someone holds a title, degree or office does not mean that person is trustworthy or honest. Don’t be swayed by appearances and take the time to find a suitable professional mentor.

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5. Failure is often the best way to learn

I honestly have made more mistakes than I can count. I know I’ve learned a great deal from poorly organized businesses and my own poor choices. The most important quality I’ve developed is an ability to swallow my pride and learn from my mistakes. If life knocks me down nine times, I get back up 10 times. One of the songs Megadeth wrote, “Of Mice and Men,” resonates in my mind when I pull myself up by my bootstraps and try again for a goal I’ve set: “So live your life and live it well. There’s not much left of me to tell. I just got back up each time I fell.” Hopefully, this brief post can act as a professional mentor to you in your quest to find not only a brave leader but also a trusted adviser.

Featured photo credit: morguefile via mrg.bz

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