After speaking at the SBT sponsored Best4Biz conference, we asked Matt Turner to share his wisdom with readers on how to market your business on a shoestring budget…
I’ve met and worked with many different types of companies; from start-up entrepreneurs who like to see a return on every penny spent, to international blue chip corporations who have an extensive budget to spend on their marketing.
Regardless of size, there are many questions that business owners ask when considering marketing their business; is this an investment or just an expense? How can I invest wisely and maximise my reach? How can I measure which marketing efforts have been effective and which haven’t?
Every time you talk to someone about your business, you are involved in marketing. Every conversation you, and your employees have about your business is a fantastic opportunity to promote its products, services and generate sales.
Consistently projecting the right voice, targeting the right audience and measuring every activity is so important to effectively market your business.
If you have no plan, you have no direction:
Like any element of your business, creating a strategic plan for your marketing is so important to ensure you’re working towards a goal and are not distracted from what you originally planned to achieve.
Before creating a plan, take the time to analyse your existing customer base and establish what it is they love about your business and where there is room for improvement. What do they need and how do they buy from you? One size does not fit all, so segment your audience into groups with similar needs. This will help you target the right people without wasting money or resources.
Break your plan down into activities, which you would like to execute each month such as social media, newsletters and a blog post; then add any additional activities such as trade shows, networking, telesales or advertising. Time these activities around potential customer’s buying cycles to save money and maximise sales. For example, an insurance broker would aim to target a potential customer just before their insurance is due for renewal, as this is the time they are likely to be looking around for alternative brokers.
Establish what your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are and how you will measure the performance of each campaign. For example, a direct mail brochure could have a unique URL and phone number; this will enable you to track the effectiveness of the offline campaign. An online campaign example could be a marketing email sent out to potential customers. Using a platform like Mailchimp to send emails will give you a transparent view of who has opened your email and who has clicked through on a call to action.
Don’t expect a miracle overnight:
Marketing is a long-term investment; it’s important to invest your money wisely but try new things and analyse the effectiveness of each campaign.
Don’t market to an empty room:
We have business owners come to us and say they have tried marketing their business through a particular channel with no success. Just because something didn’t work the first time around doesn’t necessarily mean that it won’t be successful again. Try instead to tailor the approach and analyse what people did or didn’t like or if you were targeting the right audience. This could conceive completely different results. Don’t give up at the first hurdle, if you found that your audience does not engage with this channel, learn from this and try a different approach.
Marketing that costs nothing but your time:
There are numerous ways you can market your business for little or no cost; these include some online tools, which can get you started for free. If you have fewer than 2,000 subscribers and send less than 12,000 emails a month, then Mailchimp is a fantastic tool for building, sending emails and tracking their performance. Hootsuite is another free, online tool, which enables you to manage, schedule and measure the return of investment (ROI) of your social media networks. Although the free accounts have limited functionality they’re great for businesses who are on a tight budget.
In addition to this, ask existing clients for referrals; if you don’t ask you won’t get! Spend time networking; wherever you live, there are many local groups and opportunities to expand your business network. Create your own PR and let people know when you have new developments within the business, or if you’ve done something great. Don’t forget to send press releases to local publications who love featuring local business accomplishments.
Walk the road less travelled:
Don’t be scared to use innovative methods to get your voice heard. If the competition is high, being the company who takes risks and stands out from the crowd could be the difference between winning and losing a sale.
Consistency is everything:
Whatever marketing activities you choose to execute, ensure they look, feel and sound consistent. Marketing is an ongoing process, not a one-night stand. For example we see many businesses who have created a social media account, posted frequently for a week period then never post again. If a potential customer searches for your business on Twitter and sees that you haven’t posted for a month, they could assume that you went out of business. This could result in missed opportunities! Plan ahead of time and ensure that your company is posting content on a regular basis.
Marketing is a long-term investment, and to win tomorrow you need to invest today. We believe that marketing is such a valuable facet to growing your brand and your business, the more people you reach and are aware of what you do, the more sales you will generate!
Start 2016 off with a bang and talk to us today about how we can help springboard your marketing efforts and grow your business from just 10 hours per month.
Matt Turner, Managing Director of Creative Pod
Telephone: 01293 817228