Amongst the doom and gloom of our present economic and social circumstances, the more switched-on in the SME community are taking the glass-half-full approach to improving their businesses. Some marketing opportunities of days gone by may have passed, or been put on hold, but new ones are cropping up all over the place if you know where to look.
Changes to the way people work, socialise and shop present different needs amongst consumers, and has brought people into markets of which they otherwise would have never been a part. So how can you take advantage of the changing landscape and make the most of this unprecedented situation? Let’s have a look…
Assess your present state
Before you dive into what you’ll do, first look at what you have now. You might have a database full of customers that haven’t been contacted in a while; a website in need of a facelift; a suite of new products or services you’re offering – whatever you’ve got going on at the moment, take stock. Dig into the marketing opportunities that exist within business already, whether that be remarketing to existing customers, offering incentives for them to bring in new customers, or looking at your current marketing (if any) and honestly and critically assessing its merits.
Also, explore how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected your business and your customers – does this change what you offer to them? Have your services been disrupted? Have you added more products to your store? Have the needs of your customers changed, and can you meet those needs? Ask yourself these questions and gather information from your database where possible to paint a picture of where you’re at right now.
Develop a marketing strategy
Unfortunately, many business owners who’ve had negative experiences in marketing end up there because they didn’t take the time to develop a solid strategy before pumping money and time into marketing. Simply knowing what marketing platforms exist isn’t enough – you need to know what’s out there, where your potential customers are spending their time, how much money you can afford to invest, and what your end goals are. COVID-19 has forced many people to be creative with how they do business, and there’s no reason why the same creativity can’t be applied to marketing – add this to the increased downtime that many entrepreneurs have at the moment and you have the perfect setting for a well-thought-out strategy.
What should be included in a marketing strategy? While there is a lot to consider, the following five should be a given:
- Budget – How much can you afford to spend? How are you going to calculate your ROI? What is the average customer worth to your business?
- Branding – Do you have a consistent and relevant brand image (including logos)? When was it last updated?
- Audience – What demographics are you targeting? Where are your prospects likely to come across your brand? What are their needs? What content can you produce for existing customers that might improve retention?
- Research – What have your competitors had success with? What are the stats around your targets’ marketing consumption? Where are they buying from? How often?
- Content – What sort of content will you create, and how does that fit into your prospective customer profile? E.g. short videos? Facebook posts? Long-form articles & blog posts? Consider a combination of relevant media formats that fit in with your target audience.
As a significant percentage of the population has been forced to embrace technology through lockdowns and a switch to working from home, businesses have had to do the same. When looking at the opportunities available for your businesses’ marketing strategy, consider how technology can expand your reach, improve your content and automate your processes. Most of all – determine how you can leverage technology to bring the best chances of making your marketing strategy successful. Below are some examples of the tools available to help you transform your marketing endeavours.
- Automation: Products like Sprout Social, Hootsuite and others are designed to facilitate the posting of social media content to multiple platforms without the need to do so individually. For businesses with customers and prospects spread out across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, these tools are critical to ensure you’re not wasting precious time painstakingly reproducing content for various audiences.
- Tracking and Reporting: Google Analytics are a must-have for every website. As a minimum, you should be able to see how many people visit your website every day, what parts of the site they use, and how they came to land on your website. Setting up Goal Tracking is a further step allows you to see what actual or potential money-making website actions are happening for your website’s users. These include phone number clicks, email clicks, product purchases or contact form entries. Social media automation programs also offer reporting where you can see who’s interacting with your content, how often, where their located, and a number of other important metrics.
- Content Creation: Developing content to advertise your business to customers is no longer something exclusively for the tech-savvy or art-inclined. Tools like Canva, Snappa and Venngage are simple to use, and allow you to quickly create great-looking social media posts and artwork that reflect your unique brand image and style.
The bottom line
At the end of the day, using this time to tackle your marketing “to-do list” is about planning, patience and consistency. Getting value out of a small business marketing strategy involves staying on top of your content creation, tracking its success, and making the right adjustments – no set-and-forget strategies here!