This review first ran in the Sept. 1 edition of The Hamilton Spectator.
By Allan Dib
You deep fry Hamilton’s best donuts. You bake the city’s best bread, brew the best craft beer or serve the best burgers and fries.
You’re Steeltown’s most talented stylist, photographer, event planner or yoga instructor.
But we won’t know that you’re the best or the most talented until we buy what you’re selling. Until then, we only know how good you are from your marketing.
And the best marketer wins every time, says Allan Dib, a serial entrepreneur and author of The 1-Page Marketing Plan.
A compelling argument can be made that Grandad’s Donuts at the corner of James North and Burlington Street sells Hamilton’s best donuts. Yet it’s Donut Monster on Locke Street that sells Hamilton’s best marketed donuts. Donut Monster has nearly 9,000 followers on Facebook and almost 4,000 followers on Twitter while Grandad’s has 4,000 Facebook followers and 463 followers on Twitter.
It’s the quality of your products or services that keeps us coming back as customers. It’s the effectiveness of your marketing that brings us through your doors for the first time. Marketing is how we get to know you, like you and trust you.
“The graveyards of failed businesses are full of businesses that had excellent products and services,” says Dib. “For the most part they failed because those running them didn’t pay enough attention to marketing. By far the biggest leverage point in any business is marketing. If you get 10 per cent better at marketing, this can have an exponential or multiplying effect on your bottom line. “
Don’t try copying the marketing strategies of your larger, more established competitors. Dib warns that entrepreneurs and small business owners don’t have the money, staff or time for building brand awareness.
Instead, you need to find the fastest path to making money.
Dib maps out that path in a one-page, at-a-glance marketing plan that can be filled out in less than 30 minutes. It’s a plan with three phases and each phase has a different marketing focus.
The first phase is all about getting prospects to know that you exist. You’re identifying a target market, crafting a compelling message and delivering that message through advertising media.
Believing that everyone is your target market is a newbie marketing mistake, says Dib. “Being all things to all people leads to marketing failure. Targeting a tight niche allows you to become a big fish in a small pond. It allows you to dominate a category or geography in a way that is impossible to being general.”
The next phase in your marketing journey is about getting people to like you. We become interested in what you’re selling and we’re thinking about buying from you for the first time. Your focus is on capturing leads, delivering value-building information and then converting leads into customers.
Your third and final phase is all about getting us to trust you so we become loyal, repeat customers and raving fans who’ll refer you to family and friends. You’re focused on delivering a world-class experience, increasing the lifetime value of your customers and orchestrating and stimulating referrals.
Approximately half of all small businesses fail. Many of the survivors limp along, with owners taking an involuntary vow of poverty. Dib’s marketing plan won’t save you from this fate if there’s no compelling reason for you to be in business beyond paying the bills. “If you haven’t first clarified in your mind why your business exists and why people should buy from you rather than your nearest competitor, marketing will be an uphill battle.”
As to how much money you should spend on marketing, Dib makes the case for having an unlimited budget. The key is to know where to invest. If every dollar you spend on marketing keeps bringing in more than a dollar worth of business, think of it as your legal money printing press and crank it up.
“It’s time to decide to become a great marketer and transform yourself from a business owner to a marketer who owns a business,” says Dib. “Once you make this exciting transformation, you and your business will never be the same again.”
@jayrobb serves as director of communications for Mohawk College, lives in Hamilton and has reviewed business books for the Hamilton Spectator since 1999.