By Sweta Patel

Most businesses thrive at first and then die as a new competitor comes to town. How can a business thrive when it faces not just a new competitor, but one with a distinct strategy? I’ve been marketing for over eight years and every year I think about getting out of the service business. I always have 99 reasons to leave but then a new opportunity comes up so I stick around.

The service business has its ups and downs just like any other business. There are two sides to every coin, and both sides need to come to a mutual agreement. I’ve been in business since 2007 and a lot of other marketers have always been impressed by that. They always ask: “Sweta, what’s your secret?” The truth is, a lot of hard work and late nights. Here are four things that have helped me along the way:

Market Research: Does this Stuff Work?

I had a call with marketing researcher extraordinaire Kerry Hecht and she talked about the fundamentals of market research. Then I interjected how market research is vital for marketing and without it the company will find it pretty arduous to market their product or service. Market research gives us basic data, which can be used to craft an angle for our marketing. For example, in the plastic industry we can find that in 1970 there were around 30,0000 marketers but in 2014 there were 250,000. This is an indication of competition and a company can use that to its benefit. In a competitive market, demonstrate how you can beat the competition, show that you have a method marketers need in order to thrive.

Best Practice: Use Google Consumer Surveys to learn more about the market you are trying to reach. The better you understand who makes up the market, the more feasible it is for you to deliver what they want. Another great tool is Gut Check It, which allows you to create surveys on demand. Create a customer avatar of your ideal target audience. How do they purchase? What are their biggest problems? The most important factor is to find out what they secretly desire most.

San Diego-based marketing entrepreneur Sweta Patel.

Content Currency vs. Content Quality

How many self-promoters does it take for  a post to go viral? We live in a world where the word “self” has taken over. It is all about the “self-proclaimed” celebrities people make themselves out to be. They say if you can’t beat them, join them. What does this have to do with content? I just find it funny how I read “content marketing” articles across the web and every single article I read talks about the quality of content and how content is king. There are always a few tips in there about the headline, body, etc. Supposedly all these things are supposed to make your content shareable.

Lets take a look at this for a second. If everyone is a self-proclaimed celeb on social networks, and if everyone is posting “selfies” and other “self-promoted” material, what makes you think they will promote your stuff? In most cases people just like to promote stuff that will make them look good. The big idea here is to include other people, other tools and other businesses within your content. If you want other people to share it, then include them in it and make them feel special.

Best Practice: Write thank you notes to people you admire and post them on your networks. Use to make the note look professional and unique. The best part of this is the social recognition you will start to spread. You will create brand advocates for your business and they will market your business for you.

Are Social Media Hubs for You?

Brand advocacy is what has really kept me in business for so long. Every time I want to leave the service business, I always have at least five or six new referrals of people who want to work with my team. I’ve never really had to make cold calls in order to make sales. However, I’ve always provided high-end perks to my brand advocates. For example, in 2012 I took a group of my “insider” brand advocates to San Francisco for the day and everything was on me.

The difference between brand advocates and influencers is like the difference between a Ferrari and a Lexus. Brand advocates are evangelists for your brand and influencers are just people who you may partner with a few times here and there. Most of the time influencers are great for partnerships, but that is about it.

Best Practice: Take your brand advocates on a special trip and use tools such as Rebel Mouse and Tintup to display content. This is content that you can later re-purpose into a e-book or magazine and use in other collateral.

Connection Power

We often hear that the world is getting smaller. It really is, in my view. There are so many ways to connect with people that it makes relationship building a whole lot easier. On the other hand it makes con artists and scammers get caught faster because of the power of social media and conversations. Good luck trying to be a scam artist today — you will get caught! Nowadays people are able to connect through the cloud, content sharing, mobility, and also social networks and friends. Everyone knows someone and we are all connected.

Best Advice: It’s your turn! Connect with at least five new people every day and learn more about them and how you can help them. Then actually do it and take action! You never know who they will introduce you to or connect you to…

Sweta Patel is a San Diego-based marketing entrepreneur whose company is Global Marketing Tactics.

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