Marketing for SMEs - things you can implement today!
Marketing strategies for small to medium sized businesses shouldn't be complicated.
In this article I wanted to easily break down the various elements available to everyone and all of these techniques can be used by freelancers, business owners and marketing teams or for anyone crazy enough to start a new business in the middle of a pandemic!
It all starts with communication! Promoting what you have to sell whether it be a product or service, telling who you want to buy it - your customer or client base- target audience and telling them why you sell it - or rather what solution and benefits it gives them. Once you have all of this established thinking about how you are going to sell it - the marketing bit is where the fun comes in!
I was always told 'sell the benefits' not the product and this still rings true today. But for many it's hard to identify what the benefits actually are. Let's take a pair of socks - the benefits are they keep your feet warm and they stop your feet from rubbing against your shoes.
Ultimately, we all need them! If you are anything like my household, it's just because the sock fairy has stolen them all and they need to be replaced. But what about those business owners who, regardless of the sock fairy, just want to increase their brand awareness and drive clients or customers to their door. Here are some affordable marketing tips for you to implement as part of your marketing strategy today so you can do just that!
Digital marketing - Your online presence
Websites need to be well designed and visually appealing to your users. Websites can be tailored made with bespoke coding and features and will range in budget depending on the size and scope of the project. If you are looking to create your site yourself then you can use platforms like WIX, Shopify and Foursquare among others - all you need is time a bit of creative flare and a hosting fee. If you don't want to pay for hosting then be aware that the site will carry the providers logo.
However you build your website it will need great content and images. Content also needs to be optimised for search engines so that it ranks well in search engines.
Referrals - Sign up for a Feefo or a Trust pilot account. You don't need to pay for a subscription unless you want to use all of their respective features. Adding your unique Feefo or Trustpilot link to our email signature, website address and social media channels is easy to do. Ask for referrals and when you get them promote them via social media.
Word of mouth isn't just for offline marketing - word of mouth via social and referral sites can be very powerful tools too. Don't forget to respond to all online testimonials good or bad!
Google my Business is great for local SEO. It also helps people find your business and your business becomes visible for relevant search terms if it is set up correctly. You can also post content like you do on other social channels - this will keep your profile up to date and ahead of the competition.
Google AdWords and Facebook Ads are great at driving leads and direct sales, increasing followers and building brand so long as you have a good budget.
Set up Google Analytics and Google Search Console so you can monitor your website traffic and other valuable metrics to help you develop your marketing strategy and activity going forward.
Word of mouth isn't just for offline marketing - word of mouth via social and referral sights can be very powerful tools.
Write original blog post content, tailored to your clients and potential customers. Promote your content via social media, email marketing or printed newsletters - just make sure you do something with it. If it's printed materials you go for as part of a one-off campaign or to compliment your online marketing efforts, then make sure it doesn't stay hidden away in a box or a drawer!
Create a plan of content: blogs, news items, social media posts, events and videos. List what is going to be written and published when and who needs to write it. Use a social sharing platform such as Hootsuite to make posting easier and more manageable.
Plan monthly newsletters for your customers. Keep them varied and interesting and make sure that online newsletters (email marketing) directs readers through to your website.
Ask clients to sign up for your news - building your client database is crucial and will be a value to the business going forward - don't forget to keep your data cleansed. It is said it goes out of date by 10% each year! Also make sure you comply with GDPR every step of the way!
Follow your clients’ social media accounts - don't forget to engage with them and share their content when relevant and helpful.
Ask for collaborations - ask for colleagues, suppliers and clients to be guest speakers, bloggers or even hosts. Don't forget to seek out speaker slots if you feel comfortable and confident to do so.
Measure your results - ascertain what content works and drives visitors to your website and or direct leads to your business and re-evaluate the content that doesn't work.
Design and Print of Marketing Materials/Collateral
Print is a powerful medium that is underutilised at the moment and and is great when used to support a digital campaign. Print, like digital, needs strong design, great content and clear call to actions. Print is very tactile, can be extremely imaginative and works really well for high ticket sales.
If you have a product that needs packaging what are you going to put on it. Don't waste valuable space. Make every inch of print media work to get your message out and bring in the sales.
Brand identity is where you get to make your first impression, so it's essential the look of the brand relates to; you (if you're a personal brand), your service/product and particularly your target audience.
It's crucial your brand elements and logo are professional looking, clear and legible (is it easy to view on a mobile phone?!) and most importantly that you're consistent, consistent, consistent!
The more consistent your brand identity is, over time your brand will feel more dependable and consumers trust brands they recognise. You can do this by giving them a steady experience across all platforms of communication, and consistency my friend costs nothing!
Producing your own branded graphics these days couldn't be more cost effective, with loads of DIY applications out there like Canva who have ready made design features. These apps allow non graphic designers to create social media graphics, newsletters, posters etc... by editing designed templates and uploading your own photos through a drag and drop feature.
However, these apps are tools and can only help you so far, and won't necessarily turn you into a designer! So the key is to; Consistently stick with the same brand colours, fonts and style of imagery. You’ll find customers will begin to associate your colours paired with your fonts and your style of imagery as your brand.
www.nexuscpp.co.uk (Speak to Gillian Robinson about your print management)
www.flossgibbs.com (Speak to Floss Gibbs about your design and brand needs)
Event Marketing - Networking and Virtual
Research and sign up for networking groups that will work for you. Building a network of supportive people and experts in different fields to you will only help you in business. Don't forget to nurture those relationships. You get out what you put in.
Remember if you are not a natural networker send someone who is or don't be afraid to try it. Go armed with a couple of good questions - ask good questions get great answers back!
At the moment due to the pandemic, I strongly believe going forward into 2021 we will see a lot of virtual events taking place. It's not new, we just haven't embraced it properly yet and due to the social distancing measures we will see a lot of virtual events in 2021.
So why not capitalise on this opportunity of widening your network and collaboration opportunities. Think about using platforms like Facebook Live, Facebook groups, LinkedIn Groups, Zoom and other online platforms to host events, webinars and other creative ways to get people together in a safe way.
Privacy, Cookies and GDPR
It's important to make sure you have in place the correct privacy and cookie policies and procedures.
All marketing activity at some point, in the journey, requires the use of client or prospect data, so making sure your marketing activity is in line with General Data protection Regulations (GDPR) is very important.
Check if your business is required by law to be registered with the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) as some sectors are exempt.
Your email marketing campaigns should also explain why someone is receiving a particular communication from you and don't forget the all-important unsubscribe button! If someone signs up to be added to your marketing lists make sure they have double opt in and keep a record of subscribers and if someone unsubscribes do not send them another communication!
Check out this additional resource Guide to Data Protection on the ICO website.
If you need further help with GDPR then speak to Rob Masson or one of the team at the DPO Centre. They have this great resource on GDPR Basics. They know what they are talking about when it comes to GDPR!
If you need any help to implement or manage your marketing activities or just need to learn more give me a ring or send me an email.