Recently, we discussed how small business owners, like politicians, should answer some basic questions before starting a marketing campaign:
Who am I? What do I have to offer? What makes me stand out? Why should the public purchase (cast a vote for) my services?
Small business owners thinking about launching or revamping a marketing campaign should watch how the Massachusetts US Senate race between Gabriel Gomez and Ed Markey unfolds in the coming days and weeks. Specifically, thinking of the candidates not as politicians, but as brands.
Neither “brand” has widespread name recognition among their potential customer base (voters). As potential customers start to pay more attention to what, in many ways, is a battle between marketing strategies, we will see an intense effort by these brands not only to (1) introduce themselves to their potential customer base, but also (2) to tell those potential customers why the competing brand’s product is inferior.
In politics, this is called defining your opponent, and the goal is to define yourself and your opponent before your opponent does the same to you.
For example, during his victory speech, Gomez spoke about how he was playing Little League in 1976, the year Markey was first elected to Congress, as a way to portray Markey as an aging career politician. Conversely, during his speech, Markey began aligning Gomez with extreme conservative views not supported by the average Massachusetts voter.
The accuracy of these statements, unfortunately, is not relevant. What is ultimately important is whether they impact how a potential voter/customer views a competing candidate/brand.
It’s based on the tried and true theory that first impressions are critical to success. Good first impressions tend to result in follow-up business, and poor first impressions can be difficult to overcome. You may not be able to control the weather, or vendor deliveries, or other macro-issues, but you can largely control your potential customers’ first impression of your business.
Just like neither of the brands running for US Senate will sit back and take the risk of letting the competing brand define his offering, neither should you as a small business owner. While you don’t have to sling mud, you can be direct, bold and even a bit aggressive.
Do you have better prices or better value? Do you have better training or experience? Do you have a better location or better customer service?
Tell your customers who you are. Explain to them what makes you stand out. Make them want to purchase your services.