You might tell yourself 'What's the point? Marketing doesn't work for me.' You may say this because you are getting word-of-mouth referrals. Or you've tried things and didn't get the results you expected. Either way know that marketing plays a part throughout your business, no matter what phase you are in there are main phases your clients come to you through. And the phases are cyclical, not linear.
Brand Awareness is the first phase you take your clients through. You establish your place in the market by telling them who you are, what you do, your values, and how to work with you. This phase of marketing is through promotional outlets such as advertising, social media, a dependable website, networking. Remember when you started out and told everyone what you were doing. That's brand awareness. It gives you a chance so that when the right people need what you offer they know you exist and might be able to help.
Example: Who doesn't know what Coca-Cola is? That red bottle, those sizzling fizzy sounds when you crack a cold one. It's a classic soda. So why do they still spend millions to advertise during the Super Bowl? They do that so we ALL know what Coca-Cola is. If they stopped promoting through brand awareness, they slip from the consumers' mind and competitors can easily take their place.
If you have a strong brand, maintaining awareness is key to growth.
The next phase is when clients know who you are and what you do but they are not sure you are the solution to their problem. This is where focused messaging comes in. Brand awareness can be seen by everyone [I am not going to buy into assisted living now but I still see the billboard everyday]. Problem awareness is directed at your ideal client and their needs. They are deciding of you really understand what matters to them. How will they choose you over another? It's important to use phrases and words that they say or would say.
Example: I've been on the hunt for a certain style of swing for my kids. There are TONS of options, even for this particular style. When I read the product descriptions (that's marketing you know) I am looking for keys words that meet my needs - easy to assemble, durable, safe. I found one that highlighted these points: it has a more sturdy design and demonstrated with a video of how easy it is to assemble. This company knew their ideal client cares about safety and does not care for complex. So the messaging reflected that and I am sold. Another company may highlight its variety of design patterns and someone who cares about uniqueness or style will go for that.
The final phase that makes marketing vital through all stages of your business is advocacy. You client is sold, you serve them beyond expectations and they refer you to others. This is why you think you don't need marketing. But...as I said, this process is cyclical and every client has to go through it. What happens is the person they refer to you will research you to see who you are, what you do, your values, and ultimately if they believe you are the right solution for them. Referrals do carry a ton of weight but it's your marketing that seals the deal.
Example: My friend was remodeling her bathroom. She got a few recommendations of contractors to check on. When she did a web search (like we all do) one of the companies did not show up. They were not an option for her anymore. Even though her friend told her these guys are good, lack of digital presence did not fit my friend's needs.
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