Every time I share this idea, the immediate response is:

Aha! I can do that!

You have a small business. Maybe you own a food truck. Or a nail salon. Perhaps you teach Yoga or build websites. Or maybe you run a non-profit with ongoing needs for increased memberships. And I can’t forget my favorite industry: Are you an artist always on the look-out for new collectors?

Whether you need a big jump-start in sales to save the day, or you need to create a more reliable source of steady income; who reading this doesn’t want more income?  But you have no idea (or too many ideas) about where to start. Facebook? Etsy? Website? Instagram? It’s overwhelming you.

It might even be keeping you from doing anything. But you know you need to start doing some serious marketing and advertising. You are virtually paralyzed and start each day saying, “I really need to do something soon.” But, another day goes by in a blink of an eye and you still have made little to no progress. What now?

Don’t beat yourself up. Everyone struggles from time to time. However:

There are people in your industry, running a business just like yours, that are really excellent marketers and business people. They are growing their businesses and getting stronger every day.

Are you ready for this? Here comes the light switch:

STEP ONE: Google your competition! Not the guy across the street on even in your territory. Think globally or at least nationally. Start learning their tricks. Get on their websites and see how they have organized their marketing and information. Take notes and then – be more like them:

  • Do they have a stand-alone domain name website? (Of course they do and you should, too!)
  • Is it mobile friendly for Google’s newest search engines? (I bet it is! Is yours? Check here!)
  • Is there a prominent place – actually several places – for people to sign up for emails? (Can’t succeed without that!)
  • Is there contact information on every single page? (Good ol’ fashion best practices 101!)
  • Do they have a simple to use site with easy menus and navigation? (Look and see who created their website. Maybe YOU should hire that firm?!)
  • Are they using Social Media? (Are they really using Social Media or do they just have a Facebook page they barely post on?)

How easy is this? Simply turn this industry leader into your own personal case-study! I blogged recently about “Learning How to Learn“, and you can revisit that anytime, but suffice it to say: make sure you are really learning from someone who is successful within YOUR industry and using YOUR desired business models. If you are strongly brick & mortar and they are only online, that will not be as useful. The marketing is too specific to each model.

STEP TWO: Subscribe to their blogs and emails and see how often and in what ways they are communicating with their subscribers and customers. Follow them on Social Media. Are they tweeting? Maybe you need to consider that. What are they tweeting about? What kind of content are they sharing in general? I am not advocating that you copy and paste their world into your business, but you can certainly emulate their messaging. You are not trying to get their loyal clients to switch; you are trying to get your own loyal clients, right?

STEP THREE: This is worth considering, but might not work for all situations: if you are just getting started, you might reach out to this “competition” and ask them for advice. It’s unlikely that you are going to be direct competition, so they may give you a quick interview or a few tips. It never hurts to ask! An architectural firm in Boston is not likely to be feeling concerned about sharing a few tips with a custom home builder in Arizona. And even an artist in California who does pet portraits, might be fine with helping a new artist who also wants to do pet portraits, even in the same zip code! You won’t know unless you reach out.

I must repeat: you are not trying to copy, verbatim, how they are doing business. That would back-fire anyway. You can really only ever be YOU and you will have your own style and voice. You are trying to learn what makes them tick and apply where and when it might work for you, too. It’s just another way to continue to grow your marketing skill sets.

Observing what success looks like and acts like, and then applying the parts that can benefit your business, is just acknowledging that the wheel has already been invented. 

Grab the wheel, gain some traction, and steal this idea from me today!

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