What would your business be like, if you had more money to promote it?
What would it be like, if you found the marketing channels that accelerate growth?
“If only” could be your cry, but let’s get real about what you can achieve as a small or medium-sized business, with little to no marketing budget. Let’s get real about how you can gain traction, and attract more customers.
Reality is a good thing, because it forces you to focus on what’s important.
And focus is crucial to marketing success.
Here’s how you start.
1. Have a strategic plan
I know how easy it is to get caught up working on your product, but you’ve got to systematically approach marketing.
Stop using random tactics.
Have a strategy.
Map your path to growth.
Find someone who can create a good plan, or create one yourself.
Open PowerPoint, and outline your business and marketing objectives, strategies, value proposition, communication channels, timelines, budget, and measurement criteria.
When crafting your strategies, ask yourself which business relationships, market needs, and customer behaviours you can leverage.
Ask yourself, where do decision makers search for information when looking for a product like yours? What influences them? Figure out the value proposition that will attract prospective customers.
Even if you decide to hire a consultant, ask yourself these types of questions.
This way, you’ll know whether that person can align business and marketing strategy, of if they’re taking you for a ride.
2. Communicate value
Everything you say, write, or do should communicate value. That’s what makes your brand stand out.
What value do customers get from you?
Don’t say your company is innovative. Describe how your product makes work easier for companies, because you’ve created a new system that cuts production time, and improves outputs.
Don’t say you’re customer service oriented. Ninety percent of companies in Trinidad and Tobago say that, but they suck at customer service.
Give examples of the types of things you do for your customers. Things that show how committed you are to giving people a positive experience.
Demonstrate value in the marketing messages you send out, and find the best marketing channel to deliver them.
3. Understand your brand’s B2B vs B2C story
B2B stands for business to business. B2C stands for business to consumer.
Here’s the difference between a company like Complete Equipment Services Limited (B2B), and Punchy Punch (B2C).
One is selling material handling services, which translates into solutions for customers. One is selling juice cocktail shots, which translates into fun.
You might assume that B2B marketing isn’t sexy. That’s only true if you can’t find an interesting way to communicate value.
How can you make it interesting? By telling your story.
Punchy Punch’s brand narrative involves being a part of “memorable moments for individuals who appreciate and enjoy life to the fullest”. Complete Equipment would capitalise on how their material handling solutions improve efficiency, productivity, and safety for workers.
Tell stories that amplify how your benefits suit your customers’ context.
4. Don’t be fooled by flashy tactics
Wouldn’t you feel great to see a billboard promoting your products on the Churchill Roosevelt Highway? However, would it be an effective marketing tool for your brand? Probably not.
You’re better off using that big spend on smaller tactics that nudge customers along your sales funnel.
Connect the dots.
Choose tactics that fit customers’ behaviour, as they move from awareness to consideration. Choose tactics that the right people will see.
5. Test channels
Have you been blindly spending money, but you’re still not 100-percent sure you’re reaching the right people?
Stop trying random tactics. Even when you’re experimenting, you need measurement criteria.
Know which objective you want to achieve from newspaper ads, your website, Facebook ads, trade shows, direct marketing, or whatever channels you use.
Figure out which channels accelerate growth. Then do more of what works.
6. Spend on social media
If you can’t afford newspaper, radio, or television advertising, but have gained traction on social media, allocate funds to ads on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google’s Display Network.
Social media isn’t free anymore.
You have to pay to get more of the reach you want. Make the sacrifice to spend as little as $500 or $1,000 per month, or every two months. Set your budget and timelines.
7. Reach the right people
I recently chatted with a business owner, who sponsored a networking event. People like me saw it, but I’m not his customer.
The people who attended the event weren’t his desired customers, nor were they in a position to influence decision makers.
Brand awareness among people who will never buy your product does nothing to accelerate growth. What he should have done is identify his client. He should have created buyer personas.
How do you do this?
Think about the manager or type of consumer you’re targeting.
- What’s their current problem or need?
- What would cause them to gravitate to your product?
- Which part of the customer decision journey are they? Awareness? Consideration? Decision-making?
For example, I sell in-house training and public workshops. I don’t use the same approach for everyone.
I have a different approach for prospects – people who have never interacted with Livewired Group, another approach for leads – people who have interacted with the brand, but haven’t booked a workshop as yet… and I use a different approach for customers – people who have used my service, and who I maintain relationships with.
Decide which marketing messages you’re going to use for different buyer personas, and choose the right marketing channel to send that message.
It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it.
8. Align tactics with customers’ purchase journey
Spend time with your sales team, so that you understand how customers think. Create content that matches customers’ thought processes.
If you’re using newspaper ads, Facebook, and telemarketing, figure out what role each tactic plays at each stage of customers’ thought process.
To get your marketing right, you have to focus on your business context, define buyer personas, and test which channels can reach the right people. It’s easy to complain that you don’t have the resources, and it may be a legitimate complaint. But don’t let your business growth suffer, because you haven’t created a plan that will get you closer to your vision.
We first published this article in the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers Association’s magazine, The Manufacturer.
Image credit: greenprophet.com