What’s love got to do with it?

Is now the right time to start a business, take risks, change direction, rebrand, or launch a new product?

Uncertainty has become a certainty and the new normal is expecting the unexpected.

While many SMEs are struggling in an unexpected and unpredictable climate, nobody could have predicted or planned for, many businesses are equivalently thriving.

At the same time, budding entrepreneurs are emerging, undeterred by the global pandemic and recognizing that adversity creates opportunities, a multitude of which have manifested in response to COVID-19.

Intrinsic motivation is a powerful driving force in raising capital, attracting “say-yes” moments, and staying focused on an inspired mission. Unwavering perseverance prevails despite the uncertainty, helping them boldly follow plans to launch a business.

It is clear many of us share this unshakeable determination, with a report from the ACCC finding there was a three per cent increase in company and business registrations this quarter compared to May, June and July 2019.

Before you throw in the towel or put your plans on the back burner, there is a powerful word you can apply to your marketing strategy. It is the secret to marketing any business, attracting ideal customers, dodging the curve balls, staying ahead of the competition, and making money no matter what is going on around you. Just four little letters can transform a business on the brink of defeat, and blow wind into the sails of one ready to take off.

That word is LOVE.

Leverage: The power to act or influence people, events, or decisions.

How and where can you leverage?

Marketing is a form of seduction. It’s uncovering your customers’ needs, wants, desires, pain points and voids and solving them. Like all skilled seducers, the journey begins when you comprehensively understand the desired outcome and can leverage your marketing to influence people to buy your product or service. The chief aim is to drive customers to your business and have them purchase, because a successful marketing strategy is not focused on you or your product.

Study your competition and find a way to stand out. Where are the gaps in their offerings and buying process? Uncover a competitive advantage by looking at what they are not doing and how can you deliver a solution to solve more of your customers’ frustrations?

A customer-centric business focuses on the customer first, well before rolling out any marketing.  Leverage combining customers’ desires and the power of communication. As much as it is important to know your product or service and the backend of running a business, without crystal-clear communication and messaging you won’t influence clients to buy.

The very essence of business is attracting customers who convert and marketing plays a vital role in this. Leverage social channels through omni-marketing. Don’t assume because your competitors are doing two or three things that you can just focus on those. Likewise, if you have an existing business but never considered social channels, now is the time to leverage new digital opportunities. 

Remember the ‘Rule of Seven’ in marketing; when your customers see you across seven platforms, they are more likely to remember and buy from you.  Build an omni-present brand, leverage the opportunities available to you, and fall in love with your results.

Optimise: Make the best use of.

Whether you’re setting up a new business, or upgrading an existing one, optimisation is key to success. Examining your processes all the way down to your customer experience is essential. But before you get to optimising processes with existing customers, remember generating leads is dependent on making the best use of your marketing. Considering the benefits of the ‘Rule of Seven’, execution is equally important. Simply setting up a page or creating a profile isn’t making the best use of every affordance available. Many business owners make the mistake of thinking they need to spend lots of money on marketing and advertising to boost revenue, but the truth is they are simply neglecting voluminous free opportunities by not optimising their social channels.

Think outside the square and optimise every social channel. Be sure to include the following:

  1. Google My Business. This one simple hack can drive more traffic to your site than a highly ranked search word!
  2. Facebook and Instagram Business Pages,Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn. These may all seem obvious, but many businesses set up these pages and fail to take time to grow and optimise their presence. 
  3. Likewise, thinking outside the box with WhatsApp, Messenger, and free business directories can help you go that extra mile without spending an extra cent. It pays to regularly check where people might be looking for you with a simple Google search. Frequently, you’ll be automatically added to a free business directory, but if your listing isn’t optimised, it won’t drive traffic and therefore be useless. Opportunities exist to list your business in countless places without spending a cent, but a highly optimised profile will be shown to greater numbers, helping drive more customers through the door, resulting in higher acquisitions.

Circling back to loving your customers and wanting to give them the best experience requires attention to detail across all platforms. Lack of awareness is confusing to your customers, making it difficult for them to find, trust and interact with you. Show them some love with optimisation and consistency!

Versatility: Able to be used for many things.

Now more than ever, versatility is at the forefront of our everyday lives, and adaptability is not just a valuable trait, but a necessity.

Seek versatility not only in mindset, but in awareness of the people you serve. The word ‘pivoting’ is perhaps the most used word in business circles right now, but it goes beyond just shifting the business course. It’s about being versatile in your thinking to capitalise on new opportunities.

Versatility to understand your customers’ new needs, problems, pains, frustrations, and desires. Delivering alternatives in a versatile and exciting way.

Your marketing must also adopt a versatile approach and trigger a response. You may not be a fan of technology or social media marketing but the future of your business is dependent on your ability to adapt to a changing market no matter what line of business, how long you’ve been operating, or what your budget.

Embracing a versatile attitude and introducing new marketing mediums will keep your business relevant, agile and positively front of mind for your customer. Get comfortable in the discomfort of change and fall in love with the versatility of modern business!

Earnest: Profoundly serious and sincere intent.

If you plan on running a business, whether it’s B2B or B2C, be it a product or service you must always aim to serve the customer and deliver a high quality, valuable experience. Be genuine, give equal to what you take, care about people, and prioritise long term success.

Sincerely adopt a customer-first approach by understanding who they are, how they feel, what they want. Let your marketing tell the story of how it feels to do business with you.

Your brand and ethics go hand in hand. Launching a business, retaining customers, future growth and long-term success is unobtainable if your goal is purely to make money. Walk the talk and deliver on your promises. Find longevity in an earnest and sincere business model and your customer’s will fall head over heels!

Do what you love….

                love what you do, who you serve…

                          and what you stand for.

Louanne Ward, Relationship Strategist, Writer and Motivational Speaker

This story first appeared in issue 30 of the Inside Small Business quarterly magazine