Keeping up with the constantly changing world of marketing can be a stress when you’re busy looking after all the other areas of your business. It’s not surprising that most Owner-Managers put marketing at the bottom of the list of priorities.

But marketing isn’t an “important part” of the business.

Marketing is your business.

You could have the best product or service in the world, but without a marketing strategy no one will ever know about it.

Marketing takes many forms and is about finding a cost-effective medium to promote your service or product to an audience that represents the sort of customers you want. This used to be a pretty informal affair; letters through post boxes, adverts on the telly, ad space in a magazine. Nowadays the competition is hotting up and you have to build a relationship with your potential buyer.

It all starts with a plan

Performing marketing tasks every so often, randomly and sporadically isn’t going to bring you the best return and it is crucial that you have a clear plan that marries your activities with activities with your objectives.

But what actually are your objectives? What do you want to achieve? And who do you want to reach? Answer this, and then decide which of the marketing methods listed below will work for you.

Get online and make the most of the low-cost stuff

Contrary to popular thought, it doesn’t cost a small mortgage to get started.

  • Your website is the foundation for all the marketing activities you do. A website is your central digital hub, your online meeting room. It’s the place to tell your story, to captivate your users, to show that you can solve their problems, and make their lives easier. If you have the budget to hire someone to come in and custom build your site, or do bespoke work on an existing template, then brilliant. But it really is possible to do so much for so little these days, with plenty of platforms at a low annual subscription cost at your disposal. Simply pick a template that suits your brand, and create the pages yourself. Squarespace, Wix, Rocketspark are all great options to get you started today.
  • Social Media – Many businesses are using social media to connect and develop relationships with their target market, and to promote a personal image of the company. Social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and LinkedIn allow you to interact with the people you’re targeting, on both a mass exposure scale, or directly and personally. Bonus: All social sites are free to join.
  • Email Marketing – There are loads of automated programmes that can ping an email out to thousands within the space of a few minutes. Do be careful now that the new General Data Protection Regulations have come into place though – you must only send to those who have given you express permission to be contacted. If you haven’t the foggiest what we mean, do check out our GDPR article for the low down.
  • Get Blogging – Educate your prospects, upsell to your clients, share your passion and establish authority. A blog provides a platform for you to answer the questions your target market is asking and demonstrate your expertise, and to show your personality!

Offline or ‘traditional’ routes of marketing aren’t dead though!

Because everything is digital these days, it’s tempting to think that all marketing must take a digital route. Yes, you’d be a fool not use the internet to your advantage – however, supporting your online strategy with an offline strategy is key to generating interest and creating more sales.

Getting out and networking, running events, and using the phone are all great ways to get personal with your clients and potential clients. If you’re mostly doing your marketing work from behind a screen, it’s great to get out and meet people so that they can see the face behind the company.

There’s also an argument that letter sending is making a comeback. In our fast-paced digital world, we’re quickly becoming immune to the effects of online marketing and advertising. You may be more successful taking the traditional route of organising a mailshot campaign.

It’s not about what you know…

Word of mouth will always be the most powerful way to get people to buy into your service or product. Why do we look at reviews before we visit hotels? Or scroll to see the star rating on an amazon product? Because we’re more likely to trust the experience of a previous buyer than we are to trust company promotion when making our buying decision. Ask some of your champion customers or clients to leave a shining review or testimonial that you can promote on your website – it’s completely free… a no brainer!

If you have a limited marketing budget, invest your time in a referral marketing plan. Put simply, referral marketing should deliberately encourage your clients, customers and business contacts to refer you. Learn more about how referrals work in our dedicated article – What is Referral Marketing?

If you can measure it, you can manage it

To successfully promote your company, you should establish an ongoing measurement process, so that you know what is cost-effective and what isn’t.

Most importantly, make sure to test and monitor your marketing activity and results. Many businesses doing their own marketing in-house waste money and gain very little return from their marketing plan by not assessing what is working, and what isn’t. And don’t forget, as your business evolves, so should your marketing strategy!

Want to find out more?

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