‘Corporate Speak’ is not the language of small business. Departments, Managers, HR, Office Addresses and secretaries simply cannot all fit within a business run out of your lounge or shared office space, so they should all be kicked out of your marketing too. Your greatest fear, looking like a small business, is in fact, your greatest asset.
Marketing a small business isn’t actually that hard (or expensive). Because your business is made up of you, your business’s personality is your personality. If your customers like and trust what you’re all about, you gain immediate credibility.
As Yaro Starak from Entrepreneurs Journey points out:
"Small business branding is not a good logo, a rhyming name, or special font. Small business branding is the owner. It’s what the owner does, says and how the owner’s traits come through in every aspect of the business. It’s the way relationships are built and maintained, the way a person does business and treats other people. It’s how rapport is established at an individual level, where trust and comfort exist as human characteristics, not from theme music, models or slogans." – Small Business Branding – It’s Not "We" it’s "Me"
How Do I Go About Promoting My Small Business Personality?
1. Get Blogging
The best, easiest, cheapest and most effective way to gain credibility through small business marketing is to start blogging! Regular blog posts give your potential customers a complete view of who you are, over a long period of time. You just can’t fake your own personality that much, so people can’t help but trust you.
One of the best ways to maintain search engine ranking and visitor interest is fresh, informative content that people will want to read. If you’re used to writing lengthy business documents or academic essays and are appointed in charge of website maintenance, then this is for you.
People who read on the web aren’t like people who read off the web. The same person changes their reading habits dramatically if they are confronted with the local newspaper, a good novel or a webpage… So the content you offer has to alter accordingly.
A few facts about reading on the web
- Reading off a screen is way harder on the eyes than reading off paper
- People hate reading advertisments (or anything that looks like one, so hold off on the self-promotion)
- Like things to be short and snappy – get to the point quickly, then leave it. This is not the place for waffle
- Are extrememly goal focused – browsing the web is anything but what the name suggests, people read each page in order to get to the next point in reaching their goal
As a result, people don’t read your content word by word, they just scan it. This means you have to use text styles and formatting to help them along
Good Practise for web writing
- Write content in small snippets
- Seperate content using lots of informative headers
- Use lists instead of paragraphs
- Provide a lot of relevent links within or outside of your site
- Make everything informative – headers, link text, article titles, don’t try to be tricky or clever, just say it how it is.
- Good grammer and spelling are vital. Not for the same reasons they were at school, but because unless people can understand what they are reading they will not read it.
If this all sounds very fascinating and you want to find out more about how much the experts know about your web reading habits, read ‘Be succinct’, and ‘how users read the web‘, both by usability Guru, Jakob Nielson (in 1997!). Or (slightly) more recent ’10 tips on writing the living web’ by fellow usability experts at A List Apart.
I don’t want to write another article about what a blog is, a quick search in Google will uncover a few thousand answers to that question. What I do think is important though, is to outline a few, solid, tangible benefits of starting an ongoing dialogue with your customers/friends/partners/interested parties.
1. Cheap, easy, effective marketing
Even if you have a website, a blog is still a brilliant addition to your marketing strategy. Not only do search engines love blogs and reward bloggers extremely well (ie. Up your ranking), when you write regularly on a topic you know a lot about – your business, you stand to become a ‘thought leader’ in that area. A well done blog will get visitors from all over the show for all sorts of reasons and can successfully lead people from your blog and into your business.
2. Getting to know your customers
Static About Us pages are so 3 years ago… Everyone clicks on the About Us page because they are interested in you and your business, what they like even more is being able to interact with you to find out what’s going on and possibly add their own comment. Write regularly in a blog and you’ll build a community around your business where communication flows two ways.
3. Writing Down your ideas
Most people are full of half hashed ideas. Thinking about releasing a new product? Wondering about a new service? Get in the habit of putting down your ideas in a blog. You get a record of what you’re thinking, a place to develop your ideas and a community to offer feedback.
Unsure about writing a blog? Read this whitepaper with tips and advice from Business Logs