Regular readers of our blog will know how much value we place on keeping in touch with your contacts and using this engagement to build awareness of your products and services, and confidence in your ability to deliver. We also stress the effectiveness of e-mail and e-newsletters as a communication channel. Sending regular e-mail newsletters delivers much more than simply engaging with your contacts. In fact, it can be the heart of a joined-up business marketing process. In a recent post here I talked about the spectrum of marketing and the relevance of Brand Marketing in building real value in your business. Having a commitment to sending regular e-newsletters means you will be regularly communicating with your market to spread the word and also have a sustained focus on regularly coming up with content to put in your newsletter. This focus on content can be the driver for a whole range of marketing planning and communication opportunities which combine to deliver a consistent and joined-up approach to Brand Marketing – the heart of real, effective business value growth. Let’s take a look at some of them…
Business Planning – Understanding your Proposition
Do you really understand your business? What is the true value benefit you deliver to your customers? These might seem pretty basic questions but, in my experience over many years, many, possibly most, SME business owners are so focused on day to day business management and sales promotion, they rarely take time out to look at their own business. To stand a decent chance of creating relevant and engaging content, it is important to have some idea of what you are writing about, and why. If you don’t understand your business proposition your messages are likely to have little or no focus which, in turn, will make keeping your communication programme rolling ever more challenging. Conversely, if you build business planning into your overall approach you wil;l have one leg of a stable and effective platform for business growth.
Content Planning – Telling your Story
So, your business planning gives you the essence of the core proposition messages you want to get out there. The next step is Content Planning – deciding what to say and when. Have a written plan (a spreadsheet can be a great tool here) looking at least 6 months ahead and setting out what messages you plan to send out and when. Having a plan also helps to develop a structure to keep your marketing coherent.
Team Working – Don’t feel you have to do everything yourself
Don’t feel you need to do everything yourself. Get staff, clients, even suppliers to contribute. They are all part of your story. By allocating tasks on your plan to different people and getting their ‘buy-in’ to the process is a great way of spreading the workload and helping avoid the perennial issue of things being left until the last minute.
Spreading the Word – Make the most of your content
Content is the achilles heel of SME brand marketing. Coming up with engaging content month after month is a challenge but if you have cracked it, you are well ahead of the competition. What is more, your content can help solve their problem – and give you the chance to spread your word even wider at little or no effort or cost. Offer your content to customers and suppliers for use in their newsletters etc.If they are giving you content too, as I talked about earlier, it’s win:win. You can also offer your content to relevant business publications and the wider press. In all cases, it is critical taht what you are saying will be interesting and relevant to readers. A sales pitch simply won’t cut it. By leveraging your content and getting things published 2, 3, 4 or even more times really boost the value you get from your efforts which in turn should make it easier, or at least more rewarding, to stick at it!
But is it worth it?
Short answer – Yes! But there is a caveat. When businesses undertake marketing, it is incredibly difficult not to raise your expectations as to what you will get out of it in the short term. This, in turn, makes it tempting to give up too quickly when things don’t turn out quite as you had hoped. Don’t let this happen to you – and here’s how….
1. Have a plan
Make sure you have a plan. If you have given though to your preparations, you will have a solid base of conviction as to the value of what you are doing.
2. Don’t dig a hole for yourself
If you are uncomfortable with the time, effort or money you are putting in to your marketing you are likely to be too ready to stop. As part of your planning, be honest with yourself about what resources you are committing. If it’s too much, recognise the risk you are taking and think again.
3. Be flexible – but persistent
Brand marketing needs a sustained approach but this doesn’t have to be proscriptive. Take time regularly to review what you are doing and make sure you are comfortable with your plan. If you find you are uncertain about part of your plan as things progress, be ready to change or adapt but the important thing is DON’T STOP! Communication with your market and contacts is ESSENTIAL.It is better to have some communication going on, even if it isn’t perfect, than none while you try and decide what to say.
4. Find what works for you
With so many communication channels out there, there is no right or wrong way to get your message across.
- Face to Face
These are all offer great marketing opportunities but just because they are there don’t feel you need to use them. Typically people feel more comfortable with some than others, so find out what works for you, and then stick at it.