Marketing isn’t a one-size-fits-all thing.
One strategy or technique may work really well for one business, but not the other.
As an SME, you might not yet have the capacity to have someone dedicated to this role just yet. You may be managing a lot on your own.
You might already be running your own advertising campaigns on Facebook or you might not have even given marketing much thought until now. Whether your business finance budget for marketing is zero, or has a few zeros at the end of it, the principles are the same.
Customer Relationship Marketing specialist Carly Barnes has four basic principles and techniques that anyone can use to market their small business.
1. It’s not about you
We’re going to start at the center of your universe – your customer.
- Who are they?
- Where do they go online?
- What do they read/ watch?
- What problem does your business solve for them?
You might know some of these answers from the experience you’ve built up over the time you’ve run your business, but there’s nothing better than to back it up or update it with some facts. Use analytics tools on Google or insights from social media. Go through the data you have on your existing customers to try and identify any trends or challenges you don’t yet know about them. Then, look at filling in the missing gaps with surveys, or one on ones.
2. Do some soul searching
You might already have an identity for your brand, or you might still be feeling it out.
If your cousin Jerry threw your logo together with a bit of clipart and a dodgy version of Photoshop, it might be time to think about a do-over.
Larger businesses spend millions of Rands defining and creatively executing the look and feel of their brand. As a small to medium business, your budget will be a lot slimmer, so start small and simple. The most important thing to do is to think about your customers.
Does your imaging, style and colour match your core audience? Does this speak to your potential customers?
Finding someone to do some initial design work, or reworking, doesn’t have to be an expensive exercise either. There are platforms like Fiverr which give you the opportunity to browse designer portfolios and prices online. Pick one that fits with your style and budget and commission them to do the work you need.
It’s also worth exploring your networks. Reach out to your own Facebook community or chat to another business owner whose design you found impressive. Maybe there’s a way for you to work out a kind of trade exchange with them to help you save on costs? You’re a business owner, you know how to hustle.
3. Know thy competitor
Before I get started on this point, let the record show that I don’t think it’s helpful to worry too much about every move your competitors make. That’s a rabbit hole that could take you all the way down into a 3am deep stalk of every blog, customer review, or tweet that your competitors are posting. But it is important to know what else is out there, and how your product or service can offer something unique.
This gives you the opportunity to further flesh out how you want to position yourself in the market, and might give you ideas on how to tweak your current strategy so that you can capture some of that market in a way that adds real value and doesn’t compete with other players.
4. Don’t guess, be targetted
Once you have some information about the kind of person who could potentially be your customer, you can be more targetted in how you approach them.
Think about the times that you’ve seen a product or service that makes you think, “Hmmm maybe I do need that”. Effective marketing involves a lot of thought behind how and who your messaging gets served to.
This also means you keep your spend lean and effective. Plus you have a higher chance of reaching someone who is genuinely interested in what you have to offer them.
Good marketing is about placing your business front and centre for people who have a need for what you have to offer. Consider putting some business finance behind your strategy.
In the next part of this series, I’m going to dive into the world of social media marketing and give you some easy tools and techniques that even the most novice Tweeter, Insta-ginner or Facbooker can use to start building a community and reaching the right people with your product.
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