Marketing on a Shoestring for SME’s

When you are an SME with limited financial resources, you may have a huge passion and belief that you need to commit time to marketing. So what can you do to make your business really fly?

I gave a presentation about this, yesterday, at a Chamber of Commerce Safari event and these are my thoughts on the topic.

The first challenge is to be very clear about what your competitive advantage is and the second, to have processes in place that make sure you can measure the response to each marketing campaign that you run.

Fail to do either of these and you are potentially wasting both time and money. You won’t know what works and what doesn’t; and you will never get to the heart of why customers buy from you.

Here are my top ten tips for successful marketing on a shoestring.

1. Look at your business using a fresh pair of eyes. Act like a customer and take a long hard critical look at every aspect; from phone answering to the impression your Reception first gives. Get help with this from your employees, suppliers and advisers, record what you find so that you can make future comparisons

2. Identify the key benefits of buying from your organisation, really get under the skin of your product or service. And remember, a benefit is something that directly gives the customer something; saves money, saves time, provides emotional satisfaction etc

3 Check that the key benefits you have identified are actually ones that customers want! Now you can establish your competitive advantage. Compare your key benefits with those offered by your competitors. Your competitive advantage lies where you provide benefits that they don’t. This should form the heart of your marketing message

4 Become a customer in your own market place, buy something from two or three competitors and document the pros and cons of the process. If you can’t do this because they know you, get someone else to be the ‘Mystery Shopper’ on your behalf

5 Visit the MD of five customers on a ‘Boss to Boss’ basis, without any of your sales people. Ask them about their business and find ways you can work together to help them (and don’t make this a sales pitch)

6 Look for projects where you can work together at an early stage and give real ‘Added Value’ to your customers. This way you can ‘freeze’ out the competition

7 Understand and analyse how to create unique marketing ‘Hooks’ that will give enquirers a strong ‘Call to Action’. Get ideas from the networking events you attend and research what are your competitors are up to. Explore other markets to find transferable ideas

8 Create a variety of ‘Hooks’ that you can test through the different marketing channels you use. These might be price, buy one get one free; extended warranty; bundled product; extended warranty; free technical back-up; discount off next order or low rate finance. Alternatively purchase could be linked with a promotion or competition. Link these ‘Hooks’ with a Social Networking Strategy to build advocates for your organisation

9 Measure enquiries generated and conversion ratio to sales achieved from each channel you use. Stop anything that doesn’t perform until you can identify the reasons why

10 Remember that all of this is a continuous cycle that constantly needs updating, so make sure that you allocate the appropriate time on a monthly basis. This way you will get better and better at the marketing you do

These are all ideas that I have used to build my business.

They worked for me, so I know that they can work for you too.

Good luck!

Join me on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Click here if you would like to view the presentation slides.

Here is my biography and LinkedIn profile

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