To the families who own and run a business together.
Those of us who are not neck deep in it every day, the concept of a family-owned business sounds idealistic and romantic. The thought of working together as a family on a joint venture sounds fun. Who better to celebrate wins and push through the challenges with than family? A cause for bonding. While these may be the case for some, for most there's also loads of stressors. For instance, there's no easy or precise way to separate work from your personal life. They kind of blend together in an inseparable, undefinable way.
Whether you love or tolerate the family dynamics, if you're a member of a family-owned business, then this post is for you. While we applaud your mentality for local business, dedication to the value of family, determination for success, and a work ethic most admirable, we challenge you to pause for a moment and take stock of your company.
Just like running any business, there are important key elements that must be in place in order for growth to happen and sales to increase. For instance, every company should have a business plan and a corresponding marketing plan, a strategy for recruiting and retaining talent, an understanding of margin on all products and services, and much more. Click here to read, "15 Things Every Business Owner Should Know."
Although family-owned businesses are arguably the oldest form of organization in the world, it's not perfect (although you may feel that it's pretty close). Assuming you already have business basics nailed down, below are a few marketing tips that are especially for family-owned businesses.
5 Marketing Tips for Family-Owned Businesses
- Stop looking at yourself in the mirror.
It makes sense that owning and running a family-owned business is personal. It embodies you. If a customer says something negative about your company or one of your products, you feel personally threatened and offended. It's natural; it's a part of your identity. However, somehow you have to figure out how to separate your value as a person from the success (or failure) of your business.
This is where a trusted third-party comes in handy. When you're so focused on your company and it's reputation, your vision becomes jaded, a bit cloudy and inaccurate. Allowing another person (preferably an expert), be it a friend or marketing agency, to share their perspective is invaluable. It will give you information and insight that you could never garner yourself. Let someone tell you how the community and beyond views your business including how customers see you and what they think about you.
While this may be difficult, do yourself a favor and listen. Not only accept the praise, but also listen to concerns and new ideas. Work to understand another perspective without feeling personally wounded. Only when your mind and heart are open can you grow beyond yourself.
- Don't assume you know everything about your customers.
You are not your customer. Your customers may not share your buying habits or your perspective. You may know many by name, but do you know the habits and buying process of the majority?
Do you know which advertising forms your customers respond best - email blasts, Facebook posts, flyers, etc.? Chances are good that you don't have the hard facts in order to know. But that's OK! You have to start somewhere, right? We suggest that doing some research is worth the time and money that you will put into it. Ask your customers to fill our short surveys or assemble a focus group. You could also try testing ideas. Formulate a strategy and test it try for a dedicated period of time. To learn more about how to conduct research, read, "How to Do Market Research--The Basics."
If you're not sure how to tackle the research, there are marketing agencies that offer research services. Once you know how to reach the majority your target audience, you will see sales increase and your business grow.
- Marketing is more than you may think.
Marketing is more than advertising; it's more than a radio spot or a tv commercial. It encompasses the entire journey of the buyer. It starts from the first touch point, be it a newspaper ad or Facebook post to the moment they choose to repeat their business with you. It's everything from a top level marketing plan to workflows and customer service. It's creating and re-marketing to a database of potential customers by utilizing a CRM (learn more by reading, "What's CRM And How Can It Transform My Business?").
As a family-owned business, it may be the owner or another family member heading up marketing efforts. While anyone can be well-intentioned and spend time discover online what marketing entails, it may be best to hire an expert to handle it. It could be an in-house Marketing Director, but often, even a one-person department needs the support of an outside agency. Marketing is a HUGE job. You can choose to manage your marketing la carte-style with limited in-house talent, or you can hire agency experts to handle the load. If you choose to hire an agency read, "Hiring an agency? Ask these important questions."
- The functionality and aesthetic appeal of your website matters.
Did you know that if your website isn't mobile-friendly, Google will penalize you? Yep, your rank in mobile Google search may be lowered. That's not what you want. So, first things first, make sure your website is responsive on all devices, from laptops down to the smallest mobile phones.
Also, functionality, helpful content, and quality graphics matter. Remember, your website should be designed with your customer in mind, not you. Your website represents who you are and what you offer. When people see it for the first time they’re thinking: Am I in the right place? Is this site credible? Is this a trustworthy company? Can I easily find what I’m looking for?
Here's a free eBook that will help you make your website irresistible. Understand how to get found online, ways to optimize your websites usability, tips for writing great content, and the process of converting website visitors into customers.
- You don't have to be louder or more clever, just communicate better than everyone else.
How can you rise above your competitions advertising? You're a family-owned business not a mega-millions corporation. How can you break through the advertising noise and be heard? While your marketing plan should address most of this, keep in mind, it's not about being the loudest or the most clever (sure, it helps), but rather it's about being the best at communicating your story to your target audience. Win that strategy and you will win customers. Everywhere your content lives (website, blog, print ads, social media, etc.), make sure it's clear, concise, and valuable. Compel potential customers to read your content.
Great content which entails superior communication is what Inbound Marketing is all about. Have you heard of Inbound Marketing? It's a marketing methodology that's proven incredibly successful. If you want to learn more about it read, "The Power of Inbound Marketing."The Power of Inbound Marketing."
BONUS TIP: Many within your target audience search for opportunities to support both local small businesses and the community in which they live. Look for creative ways to leverage that loyalty . . . and always be on the lookout for ways to thank them for their business.
What's your next step from here? Don't be satisfied with status quo. Take a moment to think through the implication of putting in the extra work in order to grow your business. Perhaps you should sit down with key family members to discuss the necessity for creating a marketing plan or maybe it's time to do some research so that you can better understand your customers.
Whatever you choose to pursue, do it well and do it with your customers in mind.
Contact us to learn more about Inbound Marketing, Growth Driven Design, and how this dynamic duo can change the face of your marketing. If you prefer, you can start by signing up for our free marketing assessment.