Agile means “to be able to move quickly and easily.” It is a term prevalent in the discipline of software development, with specific elements for quick and easy time to market. But in this post I’m using it in its broad sense.
I’ve been talking to several small businesses lately, and I can see that they want to maintain a certain budget, but they also want to get their name out and grow their customer base.
I’m thinking a good way to start is with some basics of “Agile” marketing.
A – Awareness
Market Awareness: I have found that this is often overlooked, but a key necessity. Without it, you are marketing to “everyone” and spending time and resources to be all for all. And many times a message that is for everyone, speaks to no one. Define who you are marketing to and then, find out what their needs are.
Resource Awareness: Know your own strengths. Know your weakness. Know how much time a project or new initiative will take. Read the fine print, and know exactly what a vendor is offering. Know, in advance, how much you want to spend on getting new customers.
Budget Awareness: Create a budget for acquiring new customers. Your accountant and/or bookkeeper will file that as an “expense” in the books, but your mindset should see acquisition as an investment, as it will lead to revenue.
G – GoTo
Go to the Market, don’t wait for them to come to you. When you know your ideal customer, then find out how they’re searching for you. Let your passion be your guide. Are there online or offline forums, marketplaces or associations? Are there places where you could offer a promotion to get introduced to them?
Go prepared. Have target marketing materials, invitations to follow you on Facebook or other platforms, and follow up.
I – Innovation
Be resourceful with free or inexpensive tools and the skills you have on hand – your own, or those of your team. Learn the basics of Internet marketing, landing pages, SEO, couponing, Google adwords, and Facebook ads. Don’t sign up a vendor until you’re crystal clear on what you’re getting. Don’t sign up for traditional advertising methods without first taking a long look at it and its reach to your target market.
L – Light on your feet
Be ready to turn on a dime. If the business model isn’t working, be flexible enough to change it. Listen to advice and respond. Listen to your market, and respond.
E – eConnected
Be found online. Essentials are now a website and at least one social platform, like a facebook page. Make connections and share your knowledge or expertise. Don’t ask for anything at first, build a reputation. Follow through with suggestions or promises. Under promise and over deliver. Bonus: have a blog and build up followers.
What do you think? Is this a good guideline for small business marketing?
Recently I’ve looked at a couple of websites from completely different industries, and both were actively seeking traffic through Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM). What I was looking at mainly was “the offer.” Once you do grab the attention of your audience, and get them to your site, do what you can to keep them there and participate in a series of actions.
To do this, there must be a compelling offer. This is assuming your brand positioning is where it needs to be, and you are presenting your uniqueness in a clear statement or story.
An offer doesn’t have to be a discount – it can – but it doesn’t have to be. An offer is a compelling reason that I as a site visitor should “read more” or “click here to…” or even hand over my email address by signing up to your newsletter. An offer can be anything along the marketing funnel, like a free report, or a video, or a tip of the day, or an article, etc.
Notice I said “a compelling reason…” This is a great place to think of your target audience (or market). What is it that would be compelling or pleasing to them? As an example, I picked a rather general category, email marketing, and after conducting a search in Google with that term, looked at a few of their offers. I clicked on search results and ads, and if you do a similar task, you’ll see various offers presented simply and clearly on signing up for a free account, a free trial, or learning how email marketing works. You can see from this simplified research that the email marketing companies are targeting small businesses and individuals that are new to email marketing. The messages are targeted to offers that help the reader ease any concerns about how hard it might be, and break down the barrier to trying it by offering it for free.
Maybe email marketing was not the best example, because of offering services for free. I am not saying anything about offering your services for free (also called “freemium”) – that’s a topic for another day. I’m saying that your offer should be clearly presented on the home page or landing page when a visitor finds you from search.
How do you know when you have the right offer? The short answer is, when you are pleased with the number of people participating in it. It might take some testing of different offers to find the sweet spot of your audience.
I’ve spent nine years of my career in the credit information industry at Experian and FICO. This article is not reflective of any scores by either of these companies.
A Kolmogorov-Smirnov (or KS) test is a form of minimum distance estimation used as a nonparametric test of equality of one-dimensional probability distributions used to compare a sample with a reference probability distribution. The KS statistic quantifies a distance between the empirical distribution function of the sample and the cumulative distribution function of the reference distribution. The reliability of credit scores is often measured by the score’s KS value. The greater the KS, the more predictive the score model.
Nice information for a credit manager to know, but does he really care? Most credit managers are more interested in identifying risky customers and taking evasive action before they become delinquent. A credit manager is interested in reducing outstanding debt, charge-offs and operation costs. Most credit managers couldn’t care less about how a credit score model is created or measured.
If I told my credit manager customers that my scores have a KS of 35 when my competitor’s model has a KS of 30, they would say, “That’s nice, but what does that mean to me?” If I told them that we can help them to identify customers that are going to become severely delinquent in their payments before it happens, they’re interested. If I tell them I can also help them reduce their operating costs by automating manual processes, freeing up staff to focus on particular customers all while increasing the frequency of credit reviews from annually to monthly or weekly, they’re very interested.
Credit managers aren’t averse to formulas by any means. You just have to speak in terms of the right formulas. DSO is a very important statistic for credit managers in manufacturing and distribution industries. Days Sales Outstanding indicates how much money stays out on credit for how long. The lower the DSO, the better.
The key takeaway is that it’s imperative that you speak in terms that are meaningful to your customer and focus on benefits they can relate to, not features that are important to you as a product manager or developer. You can use industry jargon all you want within the walls of your company’s office, but once you go out to speak to customers, be sure to speak their language.
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