If you are in business, you do marketing. You may not admit it, or even realise it but trust me, you do! Every interaction with customers and potential customers leaves an impression about your business – and that is marketing! The danger is that if you don’t realise it is marketing or just make it up as you go along depending on the circumstances, you may be spending (wasting?) valuable time leaving impressions with the wrong people or worse, leaving the wrong impression with the right people! Planned marketing is about being focused on trying to leave the right impression on the right people so that you increase the potential to do business with them and so grow your business. As a marketing services provider I will suggest that having an external specialist help you with your marketing is a good thing, but that does beg the question of exactly what do you want help with?
Are you looking to find Orders or to find Customers?
For many SME businesses, there is an issue with external marketing services – they cost money! To make matters worse, marketing is speculative, there is no absolute guarantee that your marketing effort will deliver the desired result. Not great! As a consequence, external marketing services are often focused in one of 2 ways: 1. I need to do this but it’s a stretch to afford it so I’m hoping that spending the money now will give me the opportunity to get some quick wins to balance the books. This is normally the situation with creative development; websites, brochures etc. 2. I am happy to spend some money on marketing, but not too much so I need to see some quick results This is normally the situation with direct marketing; telemarketing, email, Pay per Click and search optimisation In both cases, the focus is on short term orders which, if it works, is great but your are still focused on short term orders – it never goes away! If it doesn’t deliver the orders you are expecting (and all too often it doesn’t – at least not in the way you hope) you are likely to stop. Your marketing becomes disjointed as you move from one approach to another without a joined-up plan. This focus on orders also means, I suggest, that many opportunities to build good customers get missed. If you are going to secure an order, you need a positive answer to 2 questions: Q1. Is my prospect interested in my business and what I am offering? Q2. Am I interested in doing business with this company? But what about the people who buy (or have potential to buy) what you are selling but it just happens that now is not the right time for them? In this case the answer to Q1 will be No, so you aren’t going to secure an order just now. But aren’t they still good potential for future business, when the time is better for them? Taking this view, Q2 is the key. If you can qualify , and then engage with someone who has (meaningful) potential to do business with you, that is good for your business. If you are focused primarily on gaining orders there is a risk this future opportunity will be missed. If your focus is to find customers there is more chance that you planned marketing will include a process to work on the future opportunities too. In practice, if you are focused on gaining customers, you are likely to pick up the short term orders anyway! But what about the cost? Does a focus on customers cost more than a focus on orders? I believe it doesn’t need to. It’s about your marketing being more planned, more joined-up and making better use of what you are doing anyway! And it really does work!