Small business marketing: Do you have a purple cow?

Published 9:38am Monday, September 30, 2013

Small businesses are spending a lot of time and energy trying to learn about the new social media marketing tools:

Facebook, Twitter, email marketing, interactive websites and other vehicles. What’s missing in their efforts is time spent on their marketing message. Having the right marketing message in a less than ideal media vehicle is stronger than having the wrong message in the best media vehicle, yet most businesses spend more time thinking about their media than their message. What they need is a purple cow.

In his book Differentiate or Die, author Jack Trout outlines a simple exercise to develop your unique marketing angle – your meaningful point of differentiation that will attract more customers to your business. The first step is to get out a piece of paper and list the things your customers expect from your business. For a retail store, it’s things like a good location, wide selection of products, good prices, and maybe even home delivery or personal consultation. For a service business it might be things like professional staff, 24-hour availability, on-time performance and maybe a satisfaction guarantee. If you aren’t sure what these things are for your business, the answers are available for free. Take a week and ask every customer you come in contact with – “We’re doing a little market research and I’d like to ask you the primary reason you picked us to shop at today. Are there other things you would like to see us offer to earn your business?” Write the answers down and keep a tally. You now have your list – the elements of your marketing message that are meaningful to your customers and potential customers.

Now, take that list and rate yourself as pass or fail on each one, like you were back in school. Be honest; no one is going to see your grades but you. The first step is to make sure you get a passing grade on each one. Failing to make a passing grade on any of the things on your list is a reason for a potential customer to choose your competitor over you. If you feel that you are below par on any of these things, identify the changes you need to make to get a passing grade and make them. 

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