It’s a well-known issue for many small and medium size businesses (SME’s) to struggle with marketing. There is no clear, guaranteed produced end result and it can often be very expensive for businesses with little room to spare in their existing budgets. However marketing is a vital piece of the puzzle if you want spread awareness and the value of your brand to potential new clients. In this article we will consider some of the most recommended strategies for maximising your marketing strategy for SME’s.
The first stage is to make sure before any goal is set that you follow a systematic approach like S.M.A.R.T – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. This makes it much easier to evaluate performance and recognise when something is working and when something needs to change. It also helps reign in lofty ambitions which are unachievable.
People are in such a hurry to launch their product or business that they seldom look at marketing from a bird’s eye view and they don’t create a systematic plan.
– Dave Ramsey
The next step is research, research, research. Who are you trying to sell your products and services to?, what are their needs and wants?, what potential objections will they have?, how will you overcome these?. Collect all the information you can and use all the data analytics at your disposal. A lack of research can lead to costly mistakes that can be very difficult to correct in the future. It wasn’t that long ago, Coca Cola famously misspent millions introducing “new coke” and taking the original off the shelves only to find it was a complete failure and then reintroduce “classic coke” and remove their new product. Whilst customers actually preferred the taste of the new product they completely underestimated the attachment to the original.
The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.
– Peter Drucker
From this information you can start to form an idea of your marketing method, how are you going to communicate with your potential customers?. Direct telesales/email campaigns, website/online advertising, media adverts, face to face, etc. A common mistake is to use a scattergun approach and hope something hits the mark, but this can be costly, inefficient and can make it difficult to pin point what is working and what isn’t. Armed with sound knowledge of who your customer is and what they want, you should be able to keep trial and error to a minimum. But remember, never stop learning and adapting as the market evolves otherwise you may be left in the cold.
Know thyself. Know the customer. Innovate
– Beth Comstock
Once you understand your potential client base you should then consider your competitors. What do they do well? What do you do better? What problems have they overcome?. Understanding your competition is critical if you are to present yourself as a better option.
Invest in your team. Develop the expertise and abilities of your staff so they are able to deliver the best customer service and sales techniques they are capable of. An all too frequent mistake is to pump a lot of resources into marketing campaigns but not have the staff expertise to take advantage of the new leads and convert them into buyers. Marketing can only get your foot in the door; it’s up to you to seal the deal. Seek affordable expertise but be careful not to become too reliant on outside help.
Starbucks is not an advertiser; people think we are a great marketing company, but in fact we spend very little money on marketing and more money on training our people than advertising.
– Howard Schultz
Simplified, marketing is simply telling people how great your company is. Be S.M.A.R.T, research and evaluate as much as possible and develop the expertise of your team.