Capturing customer attention as a small business owner is one of the toughest challenges. You compete against more established companies with more resources. What’s a SME supposed to do when it comes to marketing and customer retention techniques? Social media, check. Facebook ads, check. You’ve gotten the methods, but do you know the principles to live by?
Caryn Marooney, Head of Technology Communications for Facebook, has a history of crafting succinct stories for little-known companies. Her public relations agency, OutCast, worked with little-known startups at the time. Now, Amazon, SalesForce, and Netflix are all household names thanks to her marketing smarts.
At FirstRound Capital’s CEO Summit, Marooney explained how she helped these small business capture attention. Fortunately, her pared-down method is straightforward and easy to implement for owners in all industries. Marooney may have been tasked to give Baby Netflix a moving, marketing story, but her advice will resonate with any business owner aiming to acquire customers in a memorable way.
Maroony believes in “sticking to your RIBS” — RIBS standing for:
Know who your audience is. What are the problems that are on the forefront of their minds? Is your business solving that problem? “Fight for relevance. Make it a priority in your positioning”, says Marrooney. In the beauty industry, be aware of the priorities that are changing in customers’ minds. UK-based indie brand, MDMFlow offers a sizable range of lipsticks for darker skins. The brand oozes 90s/hip hop cool with its packaging and lipsticks named “Di La La” and “Ninety Four”. This goes beyond copy-and-paste customer retention techniques. It’s the art of knowing the current tastes of your customers and figuring out how they are going to evolve. Then, adapt appropriately.
Be the company that is working on the inevitable. Before founding Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg knew technology would be the one that would unite the world and connect people; he just didn’t know he was going to play such a large role aiding its rapid development. This applies to every business owner. Whether you own a beauty salon or a gym, you understand the ins and outs of your industry. You feel the pulse of how things are moving. Rather than fearing the inevitable change, be one of the pioneers. Be the beauty salon that offers in-house, professional nutritionist who can recommend supplements for hair growth or strong nails. Be the personal trainer that can recommend yoga pants that give real-time feedback on form and alignment. Be part of the inevitable.
It’s about making people believe that you are the one that will enact the sweeping change. Credibility establishes the cornerstone for belief. Marooney cites how one founder of a now-multi billion company had the background that understood the problem the company was solving. As a small business owners, it’s all about showing potential customers you can deliver. By having a professional, fully-functioning webpage that is a breeze to use for clients and a story about why you’re most qualified to serve them remain the best tools for believability.
Business owners compete for one of the most rare resources on earth: a person’s attention. Customers live their lives between checking emails, messaging the babysitter, and posting on Instagram. They need to understand a concept as quickly as possible. Salesforce’s “End of Software” campaign was only 3 words. Yet, it’s potential impact was rapidly communicated—you don’t even have to know what Saleforce does! Through this simple line, one knows that 1.Salesforce is not software 2. Software is dying 3. Salesforce is the solution. Marooney advises to edit down your central message to a one-line for most punch.
Set aside an afternoon to think on these RIBS principles. Then, come up with a focal point that summarizes what sets you apart and why your business is the one to do it perfectly.
At Shore, our mission is simple: we make running a business so much easier.
We handle the daily, so you can focus on the grind.
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