The Summer holiday season is well and truly here and often a time when business owners take stock and review things. Almost inevitably, as part of this process, thoughts turn to effective marketing and business development. These days, there are so many different ideas and opportunities to market your business it can get confusing as to what is right for you. I thought this is a good time to go back to fundamentals and look at 5 key areas of marketing your business and give a practical idea for approaching each one.
1. Understand the value you deliver
Why do your customers do business with you? The answer to this question may not be as obvious as you think. It is likely that you are in completion with other businesses who, on the face of it, offer the same product or service as you so why do your customers do business with you? Come to that, why do other people do business with your competitors? Take some time to think about what is the benefit you give to your customers. This understanding is especially relevant to effective marketing IDEA: Since you want to know what your customers think, ask them why they do business with you? You might be surprised by some of the answers!
2. Have a clear, consistent message
Once you have an understanding of the value you deliver, make sure that you communicate with your market in a clear and consistent way. Different messages can be confusing and will make it more difficult for customers to understand what you offer – and so more difficult for them to buy from you! IDEA: Pull together copies/printouts of all your marketing materials. Website, Brochures, Email, Social Media, Stationery, Adverts Do they all work together to deliver the right message consistently?
3. Know your target customers.
Even if you think you can sell your products or services to anyone (and maybe you can!), there are still going to be some businesses or people where there is a better ‘fit’ with your offer. Focus on customers who can get most value from doing business with you and then extend the reach of your marketing as you grow. IDEA: As a starting point, ask yourself: ‘Am I making the most of people I already know?’ Build a database of existing customers/contacts and make sure you market to these regularly. It is much easier to get business (and referrals!) from people you already know.
4. Have a marketing plan?
One of the biggest issues with SME marketing is that it is done piecemeal. You start marketing when you are quiet then let it drift when you get busy. Marketing should be done all the time. It is OK to have times when you run a big campaign and other times when your marketing is more low-key. This should be a planned process IDEA: Use all the elements I talk about above to set out a spreadsheet looking 6 months ahead and showing, over these 6 months:
- What message you want to communicate.
- When you are going to say it.
- What tools/media you are going to use to target your audience.
NOTE: A written plan gives more commitment and makes it a bit harder to find yourself getting distracted onto other things!
5. Stick at it?
When you commit to proactive marketing communications, it’s not so much about how often you communicate as being sustained in consistently putting out great content. This reinforces your capability to deliver real benefit to your customers. Plans are no good if they are written and then put on a shelf. They should be living, working documents. Are you doing what you said you’d do and is this getting you where you want to go? Your marketing activity should be continually reviewed as a core element of your management process and refined as you get feedback on your activities. IDEA: Set aside 30 minutes every week to review your plan and make updates/adjustments to keep things on track. If your plan starts at 6 months and then each month you plan another month, it will stay ahead of your activity and give ongoing focus to your marketing. I hope you find this useful and if you are addressing all of these areas, congratulations, you are marketing! If, on the other hand, you think your marketing could benefit from a bit more focus, give us a call on 01457 851111 or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org