Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Dizzy Mompreneurs: Marketing, Graphic & Web Design

Hey all you Mompreneurs out there! Do the words Marketing, Graphic & Web Design make you dizzy? Maybe you're like me and think you have some great ideas, passion, drive, and a little bit of stubbornness that tells you to carve your own path in this crazy world. You can't stand the thought of some company telling you how to spend your day - AND how to raise your family. You want to do it all: create a business empire that will rise to the top as the saving grace that this pitiful world needs, seek world peace, financial freedom for all, cure disease, advance technology, all while having your own little corner of the world that is clean, organized, on schedule with laundry done every day, a hot meal on the table at dinnertime, while you win an award for top volunteer at your kids' school...all without having to put hundreds of miles on your minivan each week, while getting enough sleep to make you look like a beauty queen, and with enough time to get weekly massages and start up a new hobby! [Cue a choir of "ahh's" and bright, shiny sparkles swirling around you standing on top of a throne.]

Ok, MAYBE that's a bit ambitious. But, we've all had those dreams, haven't we? That's what makes us the Mompreneurs we are. Even if you don't have children yet, but have the dream that someday you will do it all, you are just like me. I started to live my dream when I was in college. Now that I'm a wife and mompreneur, I know that the dream takes a lot of hard work and dedication, but is well worth the struggles. Now that I've overcome many of the hurdles in starting up a new business, I wanted to share some of my knowledge and experience with other Mompreneurs. When we own a business, we are most likely experts in whatever product or service it is we are selling, but how many of us have studied marketing or graphic and web design? Probably not many. It just so happens that I have - A LOT. What good is your product or service if you can't get it to your customers? So many Mompreneurs overlook the importance of marketing and that is why I'm here to help. I'm going to guide you through the dizzying task of marketing your small business over the next 10 days.

There are so many Entrepreneurs and other Small Business professionals I run into that feel overwhelmed - even nauseated - when thinking about marketing themselves or their businesses. Even more frustrated, are those who have trouble figuring out what the term "marketing" even means; after all, "isn't that something that large corporations spend billions of dollars on, creating outrageous TV commercials and ads? I'm just a small business, marketing isn't relevant to me." Well, my fellow Entrepreneurs, heads up. Marketing IS something you need to do in your small business. It just happens to be that the over-used 'marketing' buzz-word is such a huge umbrella to classify many activities, it often makes people's heads spin. In addition, there's so much disparity coming from the world of designers and marketing professionals, no wonder you're sent into a tailspin.

I'm here to bring you good news! You CAN figure all of this out. Unfortunately, I don't have a magic formula - otherwise we'd all be millionaires because we'd be marketing the heck out of our businesses! - but I do have the basics, broken down for you in ways I hope will help wrap your head around the art and science (because, yes, it's both) of making your business stand next to the likes of those corporate companies on your shoestring budget. It'll take some work and a lot of thought, but you'll be better for it both in the eyes of your customers, and in your own feeling of having all of your ducks in a row.

Here's how I'm going to break down the topics:
  1. Marketing vs. Sales vs. Advertising
  2. DIY vs. Hiring out: One size does NOT fit all
  3. The Professional Design Process
  4. Your Graphic Identity
  5. Your Brand Identity
  6. Your Website
  7. Social Media
  8. Your Marketing Strategy
  9. Bootstrap Marketing
  10. Pulling it all Together
So roll up your sleeves, and let's get started.

Part 1: Marketing vs. Sales vs. Advertising.

Let's establish some general concepts so we can be sure we're covering the basics. In small business, the distinction between Marketing, Sales and Advertising is small - often invisible - as one person (often the owner) is usually wearing all three of these hats. Therefore, the need to divide these categories is much smaller. In larger companies, however, each area is often treated much more individually and each has its own distinct functions. I'm always surprised, when I work with larger companies, that many of them push sales efforts outside of the marketing umbrella and rarely have a succinct strategy in place that make the two gain from each other's efforts. It seems like an obvious thing to me - to have sales and marketing be on the same page, working towards the same goal - but I'm continually surprised to see this isn't the case in many companies.

So what is the difference between sales and marketing, you ask? Imagine marketing as an umbrella that covers all the activity that is done, both inside a company and outside, that relays messages and interacts with your customers and in the marketplace. It's ANY interaction between your company and the world. This includes anything that is not intentionally done as "marketing" - even the perception the world has about your company. All of this is marketing. It is an activity that is done, sometimes intentionally, sometimes not, to let people know you exist. Let's face it, the world is so huge; even though you feel like your business is the best thing EVER, you've got a lot of divided attention to grab to let people know you exist. Today's media-centered world makes it seem simple. Well, the "if you build it, they will come" mentality just isn't true for most of us Entrepreneurs. That's where marketing comes in... Have I convinced you yet of the importance of marketing your business? Good, let's move on.

How about sales? Most obviously, this is the act of selling your product or service to your customers. Good companies have a well-defined sales process, or a consistent, repeatable way of approaching a customer, informing them about your product, learning about their unique needs, presenting solutions to their problems, and closing the sale. They are responsible for welcoming the customer at the door, taking them by the hand, walking them through the process of buying from you, and waving at the end of the driveway as they drive off. Like mom and dad after the kids go off to college, sales people check on the customer after the purchase to make sure everything went as expected.

Finally, advertising consists primarily of the exact messages or campaigns you send to your customers telling them about your business. It relates more to the specific campaigns or messages you send to your customer. The biggest mistake Entrepreneurs often make with advertising is a lack of being consistent with your message to create a brand presence (more on branding later). Also, your ads should be targeted to speak to a specific audience you are trying to reach. You're not going to get anyone's attention by plastering your logo as large as you can get it on the ad. In fact, I try to convince my clients to make their logos smaller in their ads and instead, come up with a captivating headline that catches the right customer's attention. A favorite example I like to use is this: Imagine it's 10pm at night and you have a leaky faucet that can't wait until morning before it floods the house. You scan the yellow pages and see Bob's Plumbing, Pete the Plumber, Joe Schmo Fix-it, Your Local Plumber, etc. and then you see Late Night Repair! We'll take care of it so you can get your sleep. Who are you going to call? You don't care if it's Jim-Bob, or Paul that comes to your door, but someone who you know will help you so you can hit the pillow fast; now you're ready to dial the phone.

The plumber example is a good one for commodity services like plumbing, repair, etc., but my guess is that many of you Mompreneurs are selling some sort of creative product or service, perhaps something you make or find unique. So, you may not have as much competition as a plumber, but the concept is what's important. You still need to find a way to distinguish yourself from the other options that are out there and find a way to catch the attention of your target audience when they are overwhelmed with so many messages directed at them each day. Rather than focusing so much on yourself and your desire to make your logo as big as it can be because we all know how awesome you are (no joke - I truly believe in your rockstar ability - otherwise you wouldn't have considered being a business owner in the first place), you need to first consider your audience and really dissect what will attract them and make them feel like their prayers are being answered. Remember, humans are selfish by nature. The way to get someone to flock to your business in droves is to appeal to their most primary need - self actualization (remember Maslow's hierarchy for those of you who took college psychology?). While they might entertain your catchy business name with a quick, passing glance, nothing is going to make them stop dead in their tracks more than something that screams, "I will pamper YOU and fix something that you have been endlessly searching for an answer to!" That, my friends, is the way to develop an advertisement AND to get your customers' attention.

Is this coming together yet? I hope that you can connect the dots between your advertisement that speaks to your customer and the fact that it only one specific piece of your overall brand and marketing strategy. This strategy needs to be consistent to avoid confusing your target customer. You need to know who it is that you serve, what motivates them to purchase something, and how exactly it is that you meet their varied needs and can help them solve their problems. Then, the sales process needs to seamlessly guide them through the act of doing business with you and needs to remind them continually why you are the best match for them and can understand their most primitive needs (self-actualization or independence, autonomy, belonging, etc., remember?).

Ahh, there it is. The big picture. Congrats, you're now a Marketing 101 graduate. Stay tuned for the next part, when we begin to take apart the pieces of marketing and learn when it's best to do it yourself and when it's best to hire someone to help.

If you know others Mompreneurs who run their own businesses, share this with them and feel free to take credit for being the genius who discovered the keys to marketing themselves and you can enjoy learning about this stuff together.

Until then...


Doodlemonger said...

Hi Kelly,
Thanks for this - I love when someone decides to share their knowledge for nothing more than the greater good. I've just finished Freakonomics and found it very unputdownable - but I need to have my selling instincts honed A LOT. This morning's tutorial was very informative and well-written. Well done and I look forward to the next installment. Roisin Cure (www.roisincuredesigns.com)

Theresa said...

Great job, Kelly! And I agree that it's so important for us mompreneurs to take our biz seriously enough to invest in marketing! Can't wait to see what else you have to share:-)