How to avoid wasting money on marketing your small business

how to avoid wasting money on marketing your small business

how to avoid wasting money on marketing your small business

We are often asked how to identify which marketing activities will provide the best ROI, and how to stop wasting money on marketing that doesn’t work.

In a small business, any purchase is a big purchase, so committing to marketing campaigns can be a huge decision. We’ve put together 6 tips on ensuring you get the best value for your money.

 

Know your market

This may seem obvious, but when you are busy trying to build business it can easy to overlook the time you should have spent on getting to understand your market. By completing these 3 simple steps, you will put yourself in a much better position to understand what marketing will help you as a company.

Step 1: You have to start by knowing yourself. Take the time to define your aims, your values and your ethic. You will not truly know your competitors, until you know what you are trying to achieve.

Step 2: Find your competition. Use local directories and web searches to discover who is around you, and what they are doing. Though you may not consider Mr Joe Bloggs Freelancer or Big Corp Corporation a competitor, as they are not the same size as you. If they are offering any of the same services as you, you need to understand their business, and why customers may pick them over you.

Step 3. Know your own audience. To grow your audience, you need to understand the customers you already have. Unless you are in a very niche business, most companies cannot follow a ‘one approach fits all’ method. You need to define your ‘buying personas’ the people who buy from you, why they buy, how they buy, when they buy. Once you know these traits, you will be able to appeal directly to other people with these traits.

Once you have defined these 3 steps you should have a good idea of how you should approach your buying personas, how your competitors are approaching their audience, and why you are different. These will all help to then define your activities.

 

Be up front about budget

Talking about money is always awkward, especially if you are just growing and the money just isn’t there yet.

Even so, you may find yourself swept away by a sweet talking sales rep into taking on the fanciest direct mail campaign you have ever seen. Where every recipient receives their promotional letter with a free mug with your company logo on, delivered by the earliest post so they can use the mug for their morning cuppa etc but if you don’t have the budget, then don’t commit to it just yet.

There is always an element of risk in marketing, as we humans can be quite fickle, and we can change what we like to react to as quickly as the weather. So almost bankrupting yourself for one campaign is usually not worth it, even if it does sound pretty amazing.

If you want to do the big campaigns, prove yourself through the little campaigns first. Use what you have put together from knowing your market, to try some ideas out. Spend a little of your budget to gain knowledge of what works, and hopefully make a profit. You will be in a much better place to start your first big campaign.

 

Dedicate time

It can be a common misconception, as you’ve seen above, that if you throw a large amount of money at a marketing activity or campaign, you are guaranteed good results. This is just not the case.

Marketing works on the psychology of people, and what they will react well too. If you just throw anything out there you cannot predict what the results will be, so taking the time to work through your marketing messages is essential.

Let’s take the example above. You’ve been pitched to about this brilliant direct mail campaign; everyone’s going to get mugs, everyone’s going to have their morning cuppa in them, or take them to work, and your company logo is going to be everywhere, and you will be swarmed with calls. But what if your buying persona is actual fitness focused, does not drink caffeine, and goes out for a morning run before work? The phone may be a little quieter.

If you know your buying personas, you know what type of person they are. You know if they prefer to be contacted by letter, email or phone.

Take the time to consider what you are trying to say, and how your audience will best take that in. Throwing money at marketing is not a substitute for time. Sit down with your colleague, team or agency, and it will produce better results and give you more return in the long run.

 

Be persistent

This is something we say quite frequently, but it is true.

If you have completed the above, you should have a good idea of when your campaign should start paying off. However, it can sometimes take a little longer to work, especially if you are looking at something involving social media.

Not everything is instant. This doesn’t mean the campaign hasn’t worked.

If you follow the below step, you should know when is time to move on to the next campaign. But if you still aren’t sure, wait another day, and look at the results again.

 

Monitor the results of your efforts

You will never know the outcome of your expenditure unless you actually monitor what you are doing.

There are many ways to measure, and it doesn’t necessarily matter which you use, just as long as you are measuring. Once you start, you will learn the best ways or software to monitor, but you just have to get started.

By doing the above you should know what to expect, whether that’s an influx of calls, meetings or actual sales. You can then monitor to conversions, and see how much money you actually made off one campaign. If you don’t do this, you will never truly know if you are wasting your budget or not.

 

Make the most of free marketing consultations which most agencies offer

The majority are no obligation and can pinpoint where your efforts should go for your specific company. If you have done the first few tips, you should be able to get some advice quite quickly. The agency will discuss ideas with you on what they think is best and you can go from there.

And remember, though you can tackle some things on your own, if you are looking at a campaign bigger than what you have done before, or are just not sure what messages to send in your marketing, maybe it’s best to pass it to the professionals.

 

If you want to take advantage of our free marketing consultation, call one of our friendly team now on 01543 495752, and you can have a cuppa, cuddle with the dogs and maybe even a slice of cake.

9 ways to market your business on a budget

9 ways to market your business on a budget

9 ways to market your business on a budget

A question we are asked time and time again is how a small business with a small budget can make the most out of their marketing.

Yes, it’s true that the bigger your marketing budget, the better your marketing can be. Take John Lewis for example, they spent £7 million on just their Christmas campaign, but it worked. (And I bet you still talk about Monty the Penguin today!)

If, like the majority of people, you don’t happen to have £7 million spare for your marketing budget, we have some great tips to get your business booming on a budget. Every business has to start somewhere!

There are a number of “free” marketing activities you can do that can help you to create big opportunities for your business. We use the word “free” loosely here, because it will cost you your time and effort, and your time is valuable.

 

Social Media

I guess you knew this one was coming; social Media is a brilliant tool that allows you to connect with your target audience directly, and you can do it for free!

Don’t believe though that this means instant results, and you must remember you won’t gain a lead for every post you put up. You have to work hard at it for leads to blossom, but it is proven to work.

Social media tips:

  • Find out which social networks your target audience use
  • Read up about best practice
  • Test when is the best time to post
  • Analyse what your audience react well too

If you are struggling, but feel this a marketing activity that will benefit your business, there are many courses around to improve your social media skills for business, though there will be a cost to those.

Want to know more on social media? We recommend 14 common social media mistakes and what to do instead as further reading.

 

Blogging

Blogging is a huge part of inbound marketing that will help to attract your target audience. But it is also a good way of keeping existing customers coming back to your website.

As well as giving you the opportunity to showcase your knowledge and share advice, it gives prospects a chance to learn more about your business and your services / products.

Blogging tip: focus on creating high quality content – think, the best content someone could wish to read around a particular topic.

Once again, you can find courses and sessions that will teach you how to blog, or you can even get someone to write them for you. Of course, there is a cost implication to that.

 

Testimonials and Case studies

The words of others speak wonders; studies have found that 88% of people are influenced by online customer service reviews when making buying decisions.

Testimonials teamed with evidence of the work you have done with them is some of the best advertising you can have. Take the time to write case studies on the projects you have worked on, and don’t be afraid to ask for testimonials from your current customers.

Not sure how to ask for your reviews and testimonials? We recommend Why customer reviews are important and how to get them as further reading

 

Your elevator pitch

When it comes to small businesses, people can be the best marketing tools your company has. By taking the time to perfect an elevator pitch (or two) you give yourself the best change to market to people when opportunities present themselves, and you have nothing else to hand.

 

Content Marketing

This is another method you may have heard a lot about. In fact, 98% of B2B marketers say content marketing is core to their marketing strategy.

For those of you who haven’t heard of it, content marketing is using content (blogs, ebooks, guides, recipes, videos, etc) to provide your target audience with something useful and helpful.

As we mentioned above, you should be creating high quality content that provides the reader with some value. This will help them move through the buyers’ cycle and get them one step closer to buying.

There are a number of methods for making your content more SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) friendly, so if you are considering this route, I would advise committing to a little more research into SEO. Once again, options are available for courses or someone to do this on your behalf, but this would incur costs.

Want to be the best at content marketing? We would recommend How to create the best, most useful, content in search results as further reading

 

Strategic alliances

Creating strategic alliances with non-competitive businesses can work really well for a smaller business.

Find local companies that compliment your services, and you can refer customers between yourselves, create offers for going between your businesses, and even guest blog for each other once you have worked together for a while.

Make sure your find a business that not only do you like, but who believe in providing an excellent service as much as you do, and whose work you trust. It will look bad if you refer your clients to a business who lets them down.

 

Great Customer Service

Nothing can ruin a company quicker than bad customer service. According to a study in 2014 58% of consumers will never use a company again after a negative experience.

And just as good reviews will spread to bring you new customers, bad reviews will spread like wildfire, taking twice as many customers with them.

Interested? We would recommend LEGO’s excellent example of customer service as further reading

 

Free consultations

Many businesses will offer free consultations to see how they can help potential customers, but the mistake they make is not promoting that particularly well.

If you offer free consultations, promote this and let your target audience know. Seeing that you offer a consultation, or a review, where they can find out more about your offering can encourage more people to get in touch.

 

Positivity and Persistence

Regardless of which activity you decide to use, remain positive, and stick with it!

Marketing is not all instant results, some activities take a little longer to produce results.

Good marketing will bring you consistent results over a long period of time; don’t lose faith if things don’t pay off as quickly as you think. However, always make sure you measure your marketing efforts and their results so you can judge when it is perhaps time to move on to the next idea.

If you would like to take advantage of our free marketing consultation to see how marketing could gain you more customers, improve your business position or create more opportunities for you to sell, speak to one of the team on 01543 495752.