A recent Entrepreneur article from marketing director Brian Sutter lists the eight common ways that small businesses waste valuable time and money on ineffective marketing, all of which are familiar to us as marketing experts working predominantly with SMEs.
We have a solid understanding of the challenges that small businesses face when it comes to getting the best return on investment from marketing. We are not dealing with huge corporates with endless marketing budgets and everything that we do has to have a very clear ROI and directly support business objectives in a measurable way.
Here’s are our top three takeaways from Brian’s article and how we help our clients to get the biggest ‘bang for their buck’ when it comes to their marketing investment.
1. Cashing in on your social media investments
“Start collecting your followers’ email addresses so you can communicate with them directly. Use what social media investments you have to build your email list.” (Brian Sutter)
In the four years that we have been in business, the way businesses use social media to communicate with customers has changed beyond all recognition. Since the introduction of Facebook advertising and other platforms introducing “pay-for-placement formats” you can no longer rely on having a massive online following, as most of the time they will now only see your content if you are prepared to pay for advertising.
The solution to this if you don’t have budget for advertising is to switch your efforts from building your social media audience to building your customer database so that you can start to communicate with them directly. Email marketing is now more important than ever and we’re not talking about spamming your customers with salesy messages, but rather providing regular, useful and engaging content that helps you stay front of mind with and cross sell to your most valuable and loyal customers. We work with our clients to clean up their customer database, generate engaging newsletter content and ensure that they are consistently capturing costumer details via all channels, which results in their e marketing becoming their most powerful customer engagement tool.
2. Understand your audience and speak their language
“Study the hearts and minds and behaviours of your audience. Do this before you define strategy, before you buy advertising and before you create content. Figure out what to say to them, how to say it, and where to say it. The whole point of your marketing is to reach your audience. You have to KNOW who they are.” (Brian Sutter)
Understanding our clients’ audiences is at the heart of what we do and should be the starting point for all marketing campaigns. In fact, we have just won a large project with an exciting new social housing client to develop website content because of our unwavering focus on the wants and needs of its end user audience of existing and prospective residents. We also act as ‘consumer champions’ for one of our clients the Credit Services Association, providing them a weekly ‘agenda tracking’ report on insights gained from listening to their key stakeholders’ online conversations to better understand how to communicate with them.
For our small business clients, we start every project by carrying out in-depth research and use this insight to inform the strategy and development of the campaign. This ensures that your content speaks in the language of your audiences and tells them what they want to hear, not just what you want to talk about. It also ensures that it reaches the right people in the right place at the right time.
3. Be prepared to throw the traditional marketing strategy out of the window
“Marketing evolves fast these days. While I just told you to focus on what works, I also recommend trying a couple new things every year. Given the way marketing is evolving, we’ve got to evolve, too.” (Brian Sutter)
Gone are the days when you determine your marketing strategy at the start of the year as a static ‘plan’ to be implemented across 12 months. As mentioned above, one of the key services we offer to our clients is ‘agenda tracking’ which involves enabling them to keep their finger on the pulse of the ever-changing agenda in their sector and understanding what their audiences are talking about and want to see from them on an ongoing basis. This helps shape the content we create to ensure that everything we do is in direct response to what customers want to see as opposed to what you want to sell. In such an unpredictable, ever-changing environment, it is often the experimental things that work best. You just have to be brave enough to try them and savvy enough to measure their impact.