Most small business owners know they need a marketing budget, but most would agree with the old cliché “I know that half my advertising is wasted, but I don’t know which half”.
Big businesses track their marketing, but most SMEs think it’s too hard, too expensive or both.
Well, the truth is that any marketing you do can be evaluated, and should be. That’s not to say you can work it out to the last dollar, but you can at least help your business spend those dollars more effectively.
Let’s look at typical small business marketing activities and see what can be done.
Marketing really means just about everything you do in your business, from the nature of your product, to how you promote and sell it, through pricing, to how it gets to your customers. But most effort and most money in SME marketing goes to promotion, advertising and sales generation, so we’ll concentrate on that.
Know who your ideal customer is
Don’t try and be everything to everyone. Defining who your ideal client base is helps you focus your marketing dollar. That way you can evaluate advertising opportunities on how effectively they are going to reach your ideal customer. For example: Does your business specialise in holistic beauty therapy or do you offer cosmedical services? Both have very different types of client bases who are motivated by different things. One may be motivated by health, whereas another more by appearance.
Make sure your tag line talks to your ideal client
Mine is your marketing department because I know that is what small businesses need, a outsourced solution to there marketing presence and that is what I am offering.
Have a strong presence
Ensure that you have really good signage on your premises, and use every other opportunity to promote your brand. Include signage on your car on your staff in your reception. If you have a web site make sure that your signage includes your web site address. It’s usually the easiest thing for potential clients to remember.
Build a database
In competitive industries a lot comes down to customer relationships. Strong relationships are built through developing an understanding of individuals and communicating to them regularly.
You should be building a database from day one, and getting as much information as possible from your clients. Get contact details, including an email address, as it’s the easiest and cheapest way to communicate with your clients. Also include their age and what they most often spend on. Do they want reminders about your product or service offering? And would they like them via email, phone or sms? Do they want to put their partner’s name on the database for birthday, anniversary or other gift hints? Would they like to be invited to special events such as new product or procedure information evenings?
Then use this information to your advantage. Technology now means you can communicate more regularly, more cheaply and easier then you have ever been able to before. There are many CRM tools out now that can automate this process like www.sendpepper.com built for small businesses.
Use your web site
Think of your web site/ blog as your virtual shop front in a market place where people are only shopping for what you offer. A good web site will clearly communicate your offering to potential clients and the experience you deliver when clients enter your business. It should be easy for visitors to visit your site to see what you offer, what your pricing is, and perhaps make an enquiry.
You should also try and make sure your web site allows people to leave their details with you to receive regular information. Perhaps have an enquiry form where people can give their contact details, birth date and the opportunity to subscribe to a regular online newsletter.
Use the internet
The internet is the yellow pages of today and the future. Huge amounts are spent each year on Yellow Pages advertising yet many people haven’t had a copy of the Yellow Pages for years. Search Engine Marketing involves buying advertising space on Yahoo!7 and other search engines.
This is great for a business to test as you can easily trial it without committing to a huge spend and you can turn it on or off instantly to see how it’s performing. Make sure you get expert advice on targeting when setting up your campaign to ensure its cost-effective. Also monitor the reports and performance regularly so you can adjust the campaign to increase its performance.
Build a local profile
So much about building a successful business is about building a strong local profile. Send press releases or information about yourself, how you got into the industry, why you started your business and how you support the local community, to the business writer of your local paper. Think about hosting a local event with other local complimentary businesses and invite the media along. Enter local business awards, and attend local business networking events. The more people who know about you and know what you do, the more people are likely to tell others.Give people a reason to try you. Regular offers give people a reason to try you who haven’t before and current customers a reason to come back.