Getting the basics right, can often be the most difficult in formalising your marketing strategy and supporting tactics.
Before we discuss the top 5 marketing tactics for SMEs, it would be good to set out 3 clear essential elements to create a sound foundation for your implementation.
#Essential 1 - Put very simply, you, your staff, your organisation as whole needs to be really clear on what you have to offer/sell to your prospect base.
To quote Steve Jobs,
“Marketing is about values. It’s a complicated and noisy world, and we’re not going to get a chance to get people to remember much about us. No company is. So we have to be really clear about what we want them to know about us.”
This applies to products and services - whatever your business has to offer, it is essential you know (and can express) what you have to sell and why you’re offering to that prospect.
#Essential 2 - Know who your customers are and where they like to hang out
I don’t mean stalk your customers! But building a profile of each individual customer account and the decision makers and influencers within that organisation will prime you for optimum impact and receptivity in that organisation.
Understand who your ideal customer is and what similarities they have. By identifying trends, you begin to make your marketing efforts go further.
If you’re starting to operate within the consumer space, you could consider defining your customers by such criteria as
Whilst in a B2B space, other elements such as a #number of employees, #turnover, #revenue, #expansion plans, #decision-making processes, #location etc all will help you build a strong profile of a potential new business.
For those of you SME entrepreneurs, with an existing customer base, you can get start to analyse and report via Google Analytics. Failing that, actually, ask the questions via an online survey.
In the UK there are some excellent resources for this kind of information via the British Library and their Business Centre (A link to this is at the bottom of the article)
#Essential 3 - Focus on a few channels and do this well.
We all know that these are uncertain times, and as a result, budgets are tight, so it is best to focus on few marketing channels that give the best Return On Investment (ROI).
As a minimum, and I’m speaking from experience when I say this, is to strongly consider email as a communication channel. It’s cost-effective, can be personalised, tracked and reported upon and can build, organically.
If you think about it email is vital for so many businesses both on and offline from sending an email confirmation for bookings through to writing to customers or suppliers. Few people these days don't have an email address. The majority of Social Media sites need an email address to register with that site.
So having done your research you know your target audience is very active on Instagram - this is the channel you should use and not a bit of LinkedIn a bit of Twitter etc. (But don't forget targeted email campaigns)
Photo by Karim Ghantous
5 Marketing Tactics for SME's
1. Retain Customers
It is a well-known fact that it's much easier to sell to existing customers than it is to potential customers
"It cost 5 times more to attract a new customer than to come to keep a current customer"
Here are three tips on doing this:
Say Thank you
- Very simple but amazing how effective this can be. This can be in person or via a thank you email. One of my personal experiences of this would have to be from Reviewtrackers.com (a site that helps you keep track of your online reviews in one place) sent me a Thank you card all the way from Chicago USA. I'm based in the UK. They took the extra time to go to their local post office and send a thank you card to the UK. Inside was a handwritten note thanking me for my business. Clearly, they could not have bothered and only sent cards to their clients in the USA. So why bother - one reason is the goodwill it generates and I'm now writing this on a platform that has over 500 million users.
Get customer feedback and build on it.
- I have spoken in previous posts about the power of the review - but having feedback allows you to change things up to make sure you are providing the best customer service possible and in addition the chance to show that you are LISTENING to your customers. So setting up online surveys that are more than the standard Google reviews or Feefo. These surveys are longer and dig deeper but always offer some kind of reward for completing them.
Share customers experiences and how they use the product
- Slightly different to customer feedback in that these are testimonials for your product or service. If at all possible getting people to show themselves using your product. This is an excellent way to promote your products (Except your not doing the promoting the customers is which is much more powerful.) Remember there is a reason the Apple adverts and product launches always feature people using their products it makes it so much easier for the audience to envisage themselves using the product or service.
Photo by Mike Wilson
2. Develop a Customer Referral Program.
A recommendation (or word of mouth) in the world of B2B and B2C is still the best marketing tactic in the world and has been for centuries, so to actively encourage this through incentives is an absolutely brilliant idea.
Case in point…One company that has been this most recently is a UK based company called Bulb - they are 100% renewable energy supplier.
They have a referral scheme that offers £50 to all new sign-ups and £50 to the customer who referred them. This, coupled with excellent customer service, an easy-to-understand offering, and an excellent referral scheme has allowed their business to grow fast in a competitive market (See the link at the bottom of the article to learn more).
Photo by Marina Salles
3. Content Marketing
The modern buyer differs from that of 15 years ago. A previous generation would have sought advice from friends, family and their network through a quick chat. Today's modern buyer will go about the buying process in a completely different way, largely online, until they’re closing down their options. Perhaps at that point, they’ll adopt a more traditional route of asking their off-line network for their opinion after they have done their online search.
Let’s take a look at the facts and figures:
• Online reviews impact 67% of respondents’ purchasing decisions (Via Moz.com)
• Buyers spend an average of 79 days gathering information before making a major purchase (via GE Capital)
• Millennials listed ‘word-of-mouth’ and ‘search engine’s as the two most important influences in their purchasing habits (Via NR Media Blog)
• 97% of consumers turn to a search engine when they are buying a product vs. 15% who turn to social media (Via Search engine land)
To put things simply, just listing your products or services on your website is not enough. You need to be creating content that helps prospects realise a need when perhaps they didn’t even realise they had one!
Then seek to develop assets and collateral that will help and furnish that online decision-making process, providing answers and solutions to your prospects pain points and challenges. This content provides the opportunity for new customers to learn more about you and presents you more as a trusted advisor, rather than simply a vendor of ‘stuff’.
Always ensure your content is relevant and cascaded out on the platforms or spaces where your customers like to hang out. (Referring back to our three points at the beginning of the article).
Photo by louis amal on
4. Enter a Business Award Competition
Within all industries, there are always awards - so many businesses feel it's not for them or they don't have the time to enter.
Just by entering a business award competition, it will strengthen your reputation. (Plus it becomes easier once you have entered your first one). A prime example of this is wine labels with gold winner stickers on. Even if you know nothing about wine, you are more likely to buy this wine against a wine that doesn't. You think, ‘this wine must be good, it's won an award!’ It all plays into the concept of Social Proof.
Many competitions have zero cost associated to enter, all it takes is a little time – maybe over that glass of wine you’ve just bought. Try looking for competitions from your professional trade organisations, the local business groups or websites that are related to your industry.
If you do enter an award, remember to let your customers know – they’ll be happy to support you as a favoured supplier. When you do win, don’t be afraid to promote that win! A word of thanks to your loyal customers (going back to getting the basics right) will entice your potential new ones to explore a little further on what you have to offer.
Photo by The Creative Exchange
If you are reading this you are probably already on LinkedIn, so you see the potential power of networking.
I would take this one step further and really ‘up your networking game’ as an SME, by attending a regular networking event.
84% people say they prefer in-person meetings. (Via HubSpot)
If you are unsure of where to attend or if the event would be suitable, a good idea is to undertake some research and perhaps reach out to your network and ask for their recommendations. Failing that, check out either Eventbrite or Meet up - these will give you an excellent starting point.
With any form of networking, quality conversations always trump the number of conversations you have. When networking, I would actively encourage you to NOT focus on getting a referral or lead. Instead, focus on helping others. If you help them first (by adding value to their life/business) it will be remembered and it will come back to you.
This isn't, by any means, an exhaustive list. They are my proposed Top Five, ones which I have used and that have truly made a difference to my clients. To summarise…
3 moments of clarity plus 5 top five tactics = 100% focus on your fledging and growing business.