How to Market Your Small Business Using SWOT Analysis

Many small business owners need help when it comes to marketing their small business. One of the tools that small business owners can borrow from from marketing gurus is called SWOT analysis. SWOT is a great way to begin to figure out how to market your small business.

Briefly, SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Strengths and weaknesses are considered internal aspects. Both of these refer to things that you have complete control over in your small business. Opportunities and Threats are both external factors. They involve things that can greatly impact how you market your small business but you don’t have control over them.

The way to think about strengths is to finish the statement; “I believe our biggest internal strengths are…”. Strengths are not just core competencies. In order to leverage strengths for marketing your small business they should be a unique or particular advantage that your small business has vs. your competition.

As you might anticipate, weaknesses should be explored with the following concept; “I believe our bigger internal weaknesses are…”. Weaknesses are not just things that you don’t think you do well. In terms of marketing your small business, weaknesses are internal factors that your competition could exploit f they knew about them.

Opportunities can be described with the following; “I believe our biggest external opportunities are…”. By definition, opportunities that you see for marketing your small business must match some of your strengths. If the opportunities don’t align with your strengths then its not a real opportunity for consideration in SWOT analysis. It may be a real market opportunity but if it doesn’t align with your small business strengths then its not a real opportunity for you.

Finally, you need to be wary of threats. Threats are explored with the statement; “I think our biggest external threats are…” Threats are typically a combination of a weakness that you have combined with the strength of a competitor. This is particularly true if that competitor’s strength is aligned with a real market opportunity. It is critical to try and minimize threats when marketing your small business.

To successfully market your small business you must understand your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. It is also important to understand how they relate to each other. Strengths can lead to opportunities if they are aligned correctly. On the other hand weaknesses can expose you to threats. However, strengths don’t necessarily lead to opportunities and weaknesses don’t always lead to threats. Try and see how these market forces align for your small business.

Marketing Methods That Immediately Grow Your Small Business, Part 2

What if there was a proven way to generate a surge of leads and new customers for your small business any time you wanted to? Would you do it? Well, there is a way to do just that. All you have to do is:

Give something away for free.

One of my favorite methods to instantly add new customers to your small business is giving your prospective customers something for free. This is by far the fastest way to attract new customers to your business. Now, if the idea of giving something away for free concerns you, relax. You don’t have to give away the entire farm for free! Just give a free sample of your product, service, or expertise.

Who says there’s no such thing as a free lunch?

The owner of a new restaurant mailed 120 highly targeted letters to potential customers in the area announcing the opening of his new restaurant and offering the reader a free lunch. The results? 100 of the 120 people mailed accepted the offer and visited the restaurant to claim their free lunch. Half of those people were accompanied by one or more people who purchased lunch at the regular menu price. Most of the people who visited became regular customers.

As a result of using targeted direct mail to promote his business, the restaurant owner was able to build in six days what would have otherwise have taken him six months to accomplish with traditional print advertising. What about you? How much could you grow your business if you gave something away for free to attract new customers?

What can you give away for free?

The simple answer is whatever profitably entices your target audience. Your small business is unique, but here are a few examples to get your creative juices flowing:

Professional service providers such as lawyers, accountants and health care professionals could offer a free consultation. Restaurants – a free appetizer with a main course. Pool services – a free pool chemical inspection. Cleaning companies – offer to clean one room for free. Golf courses – free golf cart rental. Brakes/muffler/A/C shops – a free inspection.

Case in point: a local auto parts store offers free battery testing and replacement. Through their offer to give something for free they get the sale of a new battery and a new customer. They also offer to diagnose the problem when the dreaded check engine light comes on. On the weekends, there can be a line of people waiting to receive this free service. Many of them purchase the replacement part that caused the problem. I could go on and on and ON, but you get my point: to get something, give something of value first.

Why does giving something away for free work?

Giving things away for free works because it takes away all the risk from the initial transaction and establishes a relationship between you and your ideal prospect. It also engages prospects in your product or service who were not involved with it previously. Once a prospect has become your customer they are far more likely to buy from you again and again.

In effect, giving something away for free can give you the ultimate double whammy – you get the initial free transaction which often leads to an immediate, profitable sale and you get to bank the lifetime value of the customer. Now, I have a quick a word of caution:

You must test your free offers on a small scale before ramping them up.

When making a free offer, the goal is to do so in a way that is profitable. After all, you’re running a business, not a charity. Ideally you will convert many of the prospects wanting to take advantage of your free offer into profitable sales and customers immediately. Some you will convert later as a result of collecting their contact information and following up with subsequent offers.

Once you have proven that your free offer is profitable on a small scale, you can crank it up a notch. If it remains profitable, crank it up again, and again. The point here is not to get ahead of yourself. By all means create free offers, but do so only to the extent that they add new customers, sales and profit to your business.

That’s all I have for you in this, the second article in the series, “Marketing Methods That Immediately Grow Your Small Business.” Join me in the next installment when we discuss how you can quickly get new customers by legally accessing the customer lists of other businesses.

Small Business Marketing Strategy – Website Structure

Getting Rid Of The Brochure Mentality: Many business owners and entrepreneurs build a website without understanding the fundamental reasons for doing so. As such, they create what I call a ‘brochure’ website. You may have done this already.

Well don’t be upset, it’s a pretty natural thing to do. For some reason we decide to follow the lead of the majority, thinking if everybody is doing it, it must be the right thing to do… WRONG!

So, going against all conventional wisdom, why do we put up a website? What is the best way to use it?

The Fundamental Reason for Being

Why do you need or want a website? The answer is LEAD GENERATION. Lead generation will lead to small business sales! How is your web site structure important when it comes to lead generation and marketing for small business?

Landing Pages

Well, in order to generate leads you will need to make offers. Offers need to be tweakable. Therefore, you need to be able to update your content easily and quickly. More importantly though you must have a specific page for your offer. These pages are called ‘Landing Pages’.

Let me explain…

Lets say you have a website where you are selling weight loss products. One of your supply companies is running a marketing campaign and you think you can make more sales while the campaign is running. Would you send your visitor to the home page of your website, hoping that they find the specific information about the sales campaign? That’s not going to going to be a very effective marketing campaign!

Or would you send them directly to the promotion?

You’d send them directly to it and make the offer very clear, being very specific about that offer and nothing else.

No matter what you do online, you must be able to make clear offers to visitors in order to generate leads and sales for your small business. You do that by sending them to specific pages, which we call landing pages.

Hopefully, you will be able to edit these quickly and easily, so you can tweak your offers and get the best response possible.

Search Engines Want Content

They love to suck it up! The more content you have the better! There’s a saying ‘Content is King!’. Its true.

The more pages you have the better. The more often you add and update content the better.

Did you know that the way your pages are linked together is very important? Your internal page linking strategy is as important as your external links strategy. I can hear you thinking ‘strategy, shhhhhmategy! this is getting technical, I don’t want to know about this’. That’s fair enough, it is technical. And while you can put a website up and link it together any way you please, if you want a good search engine ranking, it pays to have your site built by a professional who knows about this stuff.

By the way, what you call your pages and the physical directory or folder structure of your website is petty important too! So if you’ve got a site that has pages named page1.html, page5.html etc, you should start thinking about keywords for your page names! That’s an important strategy too.

Your small business marketing strategy must start by getting rid of the brochure mentality. You must start thinking lead generation. Everything starts with lead generation!

Small Business Networking – Create a Breakfast Club

The small business network is the single most powerful thing that you can join in order to bring our business to the next level. This group also acts as an insurance policy against disaster. Some business owners do not have time to participate in a full network. Here is an alternative method that you can use to help your business today.

It’s called a breakfast club. This is a small networking group of business owners that meets once a week, or once a month for coffee and donuts (or whatever you want to eat). These meetings are not formal, but they do serve a single purpose- to get more business for each of the owners present at the meeting.

The way these meetings work is that the meeting can only consist of members that are non-competing with each other. Perhaps you have a lawyer, a dentist, a plumber, an accountant, and a web designer. Each of these members has their own customer list, but they are not able to provide any of the other services of the other members. During that particular month of business, these business owners will try to find out additional services that their customers may need help with. This allows the business owner to be more full-service for their customers, which is an added bonus and helps keep the customers around longer.

When the owners get together, they swap customer leads with each other. They will explain the needs of each customer and then give the leads to the person that can help them. Now, the new business has a qualified lead, because the original business owner told the person that they had someone that could help them.

The new customer visits the business and is already pre-sold before they even walk in the door. All that the service provider has to do is assure them that they can solve the problem as best as possible and close the deal. There is no cold calling in this situation, because the lead is pre-qualified. This is only one of the benefits of a breakfast club. If you have the time, you can expand it to a full-blown network, capable of many other things. However, if you only have the time to meet once a month, you can still benefit greatly from this small act of lead exchanges. Just think, all you have to do is get a cup of coffee once a month and you can gain thousands of dollars worth of new business.