How to Keep your Edge: Proven Advice from the Marketing Frontline
I’m really pleased this week to offer a guest post from Anna Downey, co-founder & CEO of Buzzbar. It’s a particular pleasure because of how critical to building my own brand, The Art of Navigation, Anna & Buzzbar have been, and continue to be. If you haven’t come across them yet, Buzzbar are best described as a cross between an Apple store, a co-working space, and a marketing agency. I’ve been really impressed with their flexible approach and, as a small business, I appreciate that I know exactly what the money I spend with them delivers for my business. (Enough plugging Buzzbar, Ed.)
Building a successful marketing company is about more than helping clients to achieve success; ultimately, it’s about people. It might sound cliché, but people and communication really is at the heart of a good campaign, and it’s important to have a good structure in place to enable open and honest relationships with both your clients and your audience. With that in mind, I wanted to share with you what we’ve learned both from building Buzzbar, but also from observing our clients success:
1 – Understand the market you’re launching into.
You’ve come up with your idea and you’re excited to start - Great! But how much do you know about the market that you’re launching into? What questions does your business answer?
Research might sound like a dull buzzword but one common thread that can be found in all successful business models is a truly in-depth understanding of the market and where your idea fits into that.
Read as many reports, articles, surveys and interviews as you can, and try to stay in touch with daily industry news. It affects you and your business, and the more you begin to recognise audience patterns, the better your marketing will be.
2 – Know thy customer, know thyself.
Frequently put yourself in your customers shoes. Build a mental shoe rack in your head so that you’re able to inhabit how each customer feels, thinks, and ultimately, buys.
There are a few ways to do this, so it’s important to find one that works for you, whether that be attending industry talks, developing consumer questionnaires or launching an on the ground guerrilla marketing campaign.
It can often be tempting to ascribe personalities and behaviours to your audience without any backing apart from your own assumptions. Don’t do this. The only way to understand your audience is to start asking questions and immersing yourself in your industry as a consumer would.
Another useful tool is to engage in early audience segmentation; by splitting potential customers up into categories, it becomes easier to focus your time (and budget) on well-defined groups.
The main characteristics to look out for may change depending on industry, but features such as location, age, gender, occupation, disposable income levels, values and what they are influenced by are key to any good marketing strategy
3 – Commune with Your Community
When building your business, talk to people about it, ask them their thoughts, and listen to their feedback. It is a mistake to believe that you know everything about your industry, no matter how senior your position within it.
Every idea needs a community – whether it’s for testing, feedback, or just general cheerleading. Bigger companies just happen to pay for the privilege. Reviews and first-hand testimonials speak volumes, so don’t be afraid to get in touch with friends, colleagues, and customers to ask for their help. You’d be surprised how much asking others can benefit your business plans and impact your overall goals. Testing other perspectives is something that I’ve done to great success in the past, people who have nothing to do with my industry - don’t be scared to talk about your company with people; they might just hold the keys to your next big success. Remember this is all communication.
4 – Live your brand
When the way you present yourself is reliable and consistent, showing a genuine interest and openness in what others think about your brand, it strengthens your product and will secure you a valuable and loyal consumer base of patrons. Don’t disregard the infectious nature of genuine excitement and a willingness to break the mould, and, above all…
5 – Stay curious
The best industry experts are those who remain curious and open about things happening perpendicular to their industry, not just within the bubble. Some of the most innovative ideas in history have been generated by curiosity about a subject or field completely alien to that which the expert inhabits.
This is by no means an exhaustive list and you’ll have your own learnings & key points. However we often find that these, more basic, ideas can get lost as a business grows and life gets busy. In particular, holding on to assumptions about customers that may no longer be (or perhaps never were) true. Have you lost curiosity for your industry in the daily grind? Do you still feel a connection to your consumer? Try to take a step back once in a while and examine how these elements may have changed since you last looked and what new opportunities may be open to you.
Above all, keep communicating.
Ensure that you always try to answer the questions:
. Why you are doing this?
. What problems are you trying to solve?
. Who are you trying to solve these problems for?
Be as clear as possible so that everyone understands what you are saying, in or outside your industry. Universal language is key - we are all human after all.