Why Marketing is Essential for Small Businesses
Most small business owners rely solely on word-of-the-mouth to promote their business. However, when it comes to coming up with a bigger marketing plan, they discard the idea right away.
The primary reason why a business needs a strategic marketing plan is to effectively communicate its brand. The company brand alone is a competitive advantage, but it’s more important for you to make sure its values reach out to your audience. Think of your marketing strategy as the big picture: It’s a vehicle to deliver your brand message and also a collateral for your target audience to get it right.
Word-of-the-mouth may be one of the most powerful tools in your marketing arsenal, but you should also create a well-rounded marketing program under which you communicate your offering as clearly as possible.
Most people think that having a narrow market focus limits customer acquisition, but even the most basic functions of marketing provides tremendous benefits. As a small business, you have the advantage of being more approachable to customers, more specialized in your field, and more innovative compared to larger corporations. Brand exposure sets the momentum for the growth of your business, creating opportunities for potential clients to buy from you and establishing a clear-cut direction to where your business should go next.
The size of your business doesn’t have to determine the scale of your impact. It is precisely the limited resources and fixed budget that pushes you to innovate, just like Charity: Water did.
Ever since Scott Harrison founded Charity: Water back in 2006, plenty of other nonprofits have tried to emulate their immense impact on the world, but failed to reach out to their audience, much less create awareness at all.
So what’s their secret?
At the heart of Harrison’s business is his personal story. His volunteering experience in Africa turned him around from a club promoter to a self-starter and a charitable giver. He “gave up” birthday gifts during his 31st birthday party, requesting a $20 entrance fee to the nightclub and raised a total of $15,000 that night. Every penny of it went straight to fixing wells and building more facilities in Northern Uganda. Since then, his life is forever changed. He has committed himself to providing clean water and improving sanitation in developing countries around the world, and his impact just keeps getting bigger.
To date, he has funded 2,200 projects in 20 developing countries, thanks to the 400,000 donors who altogether contributed $74 million to build more wells and fund big water projects throughout these countries.
People say he is the Steve Jobs of the nonprofit industry, as the man himself is highly charismatic. His influence extends beyond mainstream media, making Charity: Water the first nonprofit to have one million followers on Twitter. “To solve a problem as big as the global water crisis, we would need an epic brand of hope and responsibility,” said Harrison to Inc. magazine. Other than being the brand evangelist himself, there are also two other things he did that nobody has done before:
1. The 100% model and
2. being transparent.
This means he hides nothing from the public. On Harrison’s 31st birthday, he made sure that 100% of all proceedings go directly to building clean water projects and setting up GPS coordinates, satellite systems, and other modern technologies to show donors where their money went. It’s a simple idea, and for years nonprofits have thought it was impossible to execute the 100% model, but he did it.
This transparency is an essential key to building trust and customer loyalty, or in Harrison’s case, advocacy.
The lingering problem in the nonprofit sector is that most organizations sell their organization, not their cause. This is why statistics alone is never enough: Utilizing his natural gift for promotion, Harrison relied a lot on online social media platforms to market his cause. However, the true backbone of Charity: Water’s marketing activities is their simple and sophisticated design.
A striking layout instantly makes you more memorable, and Charity: Water stood out because they emphasized on channeling their campaigns with this hip, trendy, high-quality typeface that has attracted a whole new generation of social media giving, contributing up to 70% of the company’s total revenue.
Looking at Charity: Water, take note that once you make all your business information readily available for the public (and making them eye-catching), it becomes easy for your niche market to find you. Yes, it’s mostly word-of-the-mouth, but Harrison’s marketing efforts are responsible for setting the right momentum for his business to go viral.
Aside from building the visibility of your business, focus your campaigns on building long-term relationships. Remember that you are positioning yourself in the market each time someone spreads the word about their buying experience from you. Make sure to always express and accentuate the values that are unique to your business.
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