Marketing should be a fundamental part of every business and should be seen as an investment rather than a cost, but when competition is high and markets are being squeezed, marketing really has to get creative and show value for money. If marketing hasn’t worked for you in the past, and let’s face it we’ve all paid for an advert that we wish we hadn’t, then it’s likely the approach or execution was misaligned, rather than ‘marketing doesn’t work’.
Marketing as a discipline has become more challenging in recent years because of the many ways our customers communicate. Often what used to work doesn’t any more. Businesses and consumers are much more sophisticated and they choose their own channels of communication and how they interact. Companies that haven’t embraced this new technology will get left behind. But then I think companies feel compelled to jump on every bandwagon going so not to miss out. Not every channel is right for some audiences and there’s a danger of wasting a lot of marketing budget.
Top Tip #1 Get your messaging right
My advice and absolute top marketing tip before you do any marketing activity is to check your messaging is spot on for the market you are targeting. This is so important and often explains why marketing doesn’t work. In our ‘always-on’ world we’re bombarded with messages, so it’s important to ensure that yours is right:
How do we cope with all this noise? Well, we don’t. We choose what we want to see and make a decision in around three seconds whether we want to read that email or continue reading that website. So, if there’s too much information or the messaging is non-relevant to us, we move on, and if you’re a business, you’ve lost a potential customer. So it’s important to really nail down your key messages that will resonate with your target market.
Top Tip #2 Don’t let your brand image let you down
Is your brand/image attracting the right customers? Everything about your marketing says a lot to a customer, from your business cards and website to your proposals and invoices. Unfortunately, it is true, first impressions do count and if you’re giving across a poor image, chances are people won’t want to do business with you. Cutting corners and doing things yourself or on the cheap can be very costly sometimes, as that’s what customers will think of your products and services. Make sure it stands out from the crowd and is head and shoulders above your competitors. Branding and good design can really help achieve this.
Top Tip #3 In your bid for new customers, don’t forget your existing ones
The well-known rule that 80% of work comes from just 20% of customers is often very true, so it’s worth taking care of your valuable ‘20%’. The CIM (Chartered Institute of Marketing) cites that a whopping 65% of customers stop buying from a company because of indifference. A scary thought isn’t it! So keep in touch with them. Pick up the phone, see how things are. Send a regular newsletter so they can see what new products or services you are offering and link up with them on social media sites. Share your testimonials and case studies on your website so they can see what you are doing. Show your appreciation by offering rewards and incentives for repeat business. It’s worth the effort.
Top Tip #4 Don’t underestimate the power of your website as a marketing tool
A lot of businesses see their website as an online brochure rather than a really key marketing tool. But think how you use the web to source information and do research about a company before you buy. Your website can really work for your business but it needs attention and promoting like anything else. Your website should engage and draw in prospective clients. SEO, content marketing, social media and PR can all help to ensure you are ranking well on search engines for all your key web search terms. Use free tools like Google Analytics to monitor traffic. How many visitors do you get? How long do they stay on your site? And what are they interested in? Even if you don’t want to sell your products and services with an e-commerce site, your website can bring business to your door, it just needs the right message and the right promotion.
Top Tip #5 Be targeted
This is all about that marketing wastage. If you know who your customers are and how to reach them, you’ve cracked it! Chances are, it’s a bit more complicated than that but the more you narrow it down the more targeted your marketing can be and the more it will work. Most of us aren’t Coca Cola or MacDonald’s and we can’t afford mass marketing so don’t try to communicate with everyone. Think of a small group of customers and what they need to know. A targeted direct mail campaign, followed up with a phone call can still have stunning results!
Top Tip #6 Don’t be shy
If you have good products and services, then why would you keep them to yourself? Tell people about them. If you find it too hard to write about yourself and your business then get somebody to do it for you. PR can work wonders for a business but is often disregarded. Never waste an opportunity for free publicity. Get into the habit of sending your business news to local papers and industry magazines. It won’t work every time but when it does it has much more value than an advert. PR can position you as an expert in your field and prospective customers will know and read about you before you go for that meeting.
Top Tip #7 Marketing is a process, not an event
Marketing is not a project, something that you do just once. It is something you have to do consistently to get the most effective results. A good campaign will generate some enquiries but it’s not going to transform your business. Effective marketing is about a consistent mix of different activities on an ongoing basis. What those activities are will depend on who your target audience is and how best to reach them.
If you still need some help with marketing your business, FIG would love to help. Come and have a chat with us, we’re always full of ideas! Call us on 01457 857111 or email [email protected] to get in touch.