When most people hear SME, they think startup, or one-man band, when the reality is that most SMEs aren’t that small or new.
When most people hear SME, they think startup, or one-man band, when the reality is that most SMEs aren’t that small or new. Nor are they big established brands with huge pots of marketing cash just begging to be spent on big name agencies. Most advice speaks to one or other space and leaves out the bit in the middle. And the reason for that is simple: firms with lots of time or money have options available to them that the squeezed middle does not. We work in an environment where money and time are relatively scarce and where we’ve been given duff advice on what to do with what little we have.
The USP Unicorn
You’ve probably been battered over the head a hundred times with the message that you “need a USP” to be successful in your marketing message. But figuring out what that might be can be tough, if not impossible for most businesses that are not actually that unique. It’s one of those odd myths that occupy the marketing space. That you have to be unique to survive or thrive. And no-one really questions it or looks at the fact that the majority of businesses do just fine without one.
This may be true, but this perception of the necessity of a USP does discourage many SMEs from having a good marketing message. They confuse their lack of organisational uniqueness with their ability to have an effective message. And that’s what I hope to be able to show you in this article. How any business can put in a bit of decent thinking time and come up with a great message that’ll really stick with their customers. And just in case one way feels like it might not work for you, we’re going to look at three.
Focus on the end benefit not how you got there
Your team have worked really hard to be as good as you can be at what you do. To innovate, to do things better and differently to help you stand out in a crowded marketplace. It’s only natural that you want to share all that hard work with prospective customers, because after all, when they see all you’ve put in, surely they’ll be persuaded to buy from you? Sadly, not so.
All prospective customers are primarily interested in the difference you can make in their lives, via the end benefit you’ll deliver to them. It’s only once they’ve decided that they want that benefit that their logical brain will kick in and wish to validate that you have the “how” sorted in order to deliver that thing that their instinctive, emotional side has said it wants.
Dial into your customers’ personal drivers
Related to the last point, many B2B SMEs explain how their product or service will benefit the business and they completely ignore the real human being making the decision. Even more scarily, some B2C SMEs are guilty of this too. Even if you’re selling into huge corporate entities or governments, the people doing the buying are just that. They’re people. With all the personal fears, dreams and desires that entails.
The strongest sales and marketing messages don’t just tap into the benefits to the business, the region, the planet and so on, they trigger an emotional response in the individual buyer that answers a deep seated personal need they have. You need to win their hearts first, then help their heads justify that impulse to buy.
Tell your story, your way
Many SMEs think they have to imitate big brands to engender trust, to seem bigger or more established than they are. Well, first off, you’re not fooling anyone. And secondly, this tends to lead to marketing filled with bland corporate speak that has no appeal.
Instead, don’t be afraid of who you are as a business. Embrace it, perceived warts and all. Figure out what your personality is and let that come through in your marketing. Don’t hide your origin story, share it with pride. You’ll be amazed how many prospective customers will find this human, storytelling approach incredibly engaging and how many will want to work with you as a result.