Which of these 2 options would you prefer for your business:
- A flood of enquiries in January
- A modest but steady and reliable flow of enquiries throughout 2015
I’m pretty sure most people would prefer option 2. This gives a platform to build a business. Option 1 may give a short term boost (not to mention delivery headaches!) but on 1 February you are back where you started from marketing-wise. Yet when people start thinking about marketing and planning campaigns, it is often about getting a quick fix and generating short term results – but often this goes hand in hand with spending money on marketing that the company can’t really afford – so needs to see a quick return to balance the books. I have long held the view that marketing should be a permanent function of a business, with a budget, just like production and accounts and HR. Sure, like all of these, marketing needs to generate benefit for the business but maybe accepting that the benefit might not be instant and that real success takes a bit longer to materialise can actually create more sustainable, longer term benefit. In the Business to Business marketing world, most people are looking to build relationships with customers that can yield long term revenues, but good relationships take time to develop. The customer who appears out of nowhere to give you business today can just as easily be giving business to your competitor tomorrow.
In the 21st century, people buy more than people sell
Having a sustained marketing communication process means you are out in your market regularly talking to your customers and prospects. You are more likely to be there when they need you rather than hoping they need you when you happen to be doing your campaign – and these days, that is the way it works. The availability of information through the internet gives customers the power to research and buy products and services on their terms, when they want, rather than only when the supplier company makes the offer. I said above that sometimes businesses spend more than they can really afford on marketing in the hope of short term results – often to be disappointed! Let me make an alternative suggestion:
Spend less but spend regularly - Spread your marketing budget
This approach implies 2 things; first, that you have a marketing budget – most SME businesses don’t, and second that there is a plan as to how that budget will be spent – again most SME businesses have no plan! Spending an a one-hit marketing campaign is a way of avoiding both of these needs – which may be a reason why businesses take this approach, though like I said, they are often disappointed. So as we look forward to the festivities and the longest single break that most businesses experience during the year, here are some New Year resolutions to ponder for 2015 while you let the turkey digest:
- Set an affordable budget across the year
- Have a clear, practical marketing plan
- Get out there and engage with your market
If you have a good, relevant proposition that delivers real benefit to your market and you ensure they know about it and understand it, they will buy. Not all of them, and not all the time but they will buy! Have a great Christmas and here’s to a fantastic and fruitful 2015.