Ask 10 marketing experts what the “must-haves” in marketing are, and you’ll get 10 different answers. So here are the nuts and bolts from C4B Media.
This article assumes you’ve got a product or service, you know what’s good or different about it and why people want to buy it. So I’m not going to start talking about benefits, pricing and propositions.
You’ve got all that stuff in place, but you need to get it out into the big wide world. What are the real critical things you need to do to achieve visibility and sales?
According to a survey by software developer Serif, more than half (54 percent) of UK businesses with fewer than 50 employees have no website. Yet 81 percent of businesses who responded said they like to source information online before buying and prefer to buy from businesses that have a website. Hmmm!
If you don’t have a website, you probably need to get one. Without one your business is at best faceless and at worst invisible. It can start with just 4 or 5 pages and grow from there. Ask your designer about best practice SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) techniques and make sure your content includes the key words and phrases that your potential customers will use when searching online for services like yours.
02. DATABASE OR CONTACT LIST
If you don’t have a target contact list, start by buying one in from a reputable data supplier. Make sure you keep a current, up-to-date list of customers, prospects and past customers. If you don’t, you’ll be wasting money and annoying people! Your database will degrade quickly if it isn’t actively kept current, so its worth the effort to maintain it.
There are plenty of cloud-based CRM systems around that are very low cost or even free. Many are also accessible via Smartphones, so you can always get access on the move. Whatever you do, if you want to do marketing, you need ‘data’ – so be relentless about building your list and keeping it current.
03. A LEAD GENERATION PROCESS
Getting new leads is the single issue faced by virtually everyone we speak to at C4B. In many ways, marketing is about nothing other than ‘feeding the sales pipeline’ with new opportunities.
The problem with marketing and lead generation is that it is a ‘cost centre’ i.e. you need to invest first before you get a return. A rule of thumb for a small business to consider is (depending on your margins) to allocate around 5% of turnover on marketing – give or take a couple of %.
So be brave! Allocate a budget and then deploy it wisely. Try a joined-up, integrated approach for best results – an email campaign followed up with telemarketing, for example. Work on driving traffic to your website and converting visitors with an offer. Test and measure what works. Keep at it and don’t be deterred if you don’t get top results first time round.
04. A CLIENT RETENTION PROCESS
Keeping the clients you have already won by looking after them is a much overlooked activity. But it’s a simple, logical process that can be supported by marketing, and it makes sense to keep hold of customers since you’ve worked hard to acquire them in the first place.
Most people (68%) only change supplier because they feel undervalued and unappreciated – mostly due to indifference on the part of the supplier. Yet it doesn’t take much to stay on the radar of your current and past customers and show you care about them.
Use the phone, send email newsletters, get them to sign up for your blog feed, pay them a visit. Anything – just stay in touch!
05. A BLOG
A safe estimate of the number of blogs out there is at least 150 million. Think about a blog as a great way to communicate your messages in a non-salesy way that is relevant to your business. There’s been a shift recently away from blogs as effective marketing tools for big business, but they are really coming into their own now for small busineses.
Benefits of a blog are:
- Lets you build up a profile for yourself/your business as an expert in your field – by showing what you know and what you think
- If part of your website, a blog is a great vehicle for adding fresh and relevant content to your website. Google loves this so it’s great for SEO ranking.
- Gives you an excellent medium for engagement with your clients and prospects
Consider the WordPress platform (like this website) for your blog and either build your entire web presence on it or hook it into your current website.
There are literally hundreds of other marketing activities you can try, but getting the basics right – the ‘marketing must-haves’ is a good place to start.