What does every business need but not always know how to do?
Marketing! Every business needs it – whatever type of business it is. Many business owners don’t understand that marketing is not the same as sales, the two things are linked but entirely different processes.
Marketing is a vital business process which makes or breaks a business, and is often the most misunderstood and neglected area, especially in small companies which are often lacking in resources.
The good news is though that effective marketing doesn’t have to cost a fortune, especially in these days of digital techniques which when practised with a bit of knowledge and application can be completed in-house or by spending a small amount of money carefully and wisely.
So marketing on a tight budget is something all companies should learn, whether they are a small corner shop or a business that’s the size of Nike or Coca-Cola.
Where do I start?
A good start when looking at how to promote your company is to start with the basics. Work on your visual branding and identify your USP – be objective and look at what product or service you provide and decide where it fits into the market, and how you are different.
Every company has a point of difference – sometimes it takes effort and time to identify the most important one.
What’s my USP?
Often people talk about USPs in the plural – but by definition there is only ever ONE. Then you may have supporting propositions which also go to make up the whole picture, but you need to decide which one is the most important.
Then you need to communicate that via suitable messaging and branding – which is not just about repeating the USP, but working out how it translates into an ad headline or a message communicated via various mechanics such as your website, press release, social media post, video, blog or articles.
Clear messaging, branding and communication should not be underestimated, and often small companies with no design or marketing resource in-house who don’t have an agency can struggle to be successful with this.
How many times do you see websites and ads with cluttered visuals, confused messages, and different typefaces, with no overall cohesive design style or brand identity?
In these days of message overwhelm, you have to stand out, be clear, and convey exactly what you want people to understand about your company and its services. And it all has to be done in double quick time because people are always in a hurry in the digital age!
Consumers are more sophisticated than ever before, so you need to maximise your impact and use clarity at all times to be heard.
Consumers have little time to wade through extraneous information, so your website has to upload fast, convey explicit messages and include a clear call to action. This is achieved by using a reliable web hosting company which can be one of the many that provide simple DIY site building options using their coded templates (if you’re not using an external web developer).
Promoting your website
Once you have your website up, you need to promote it – this is the hard part. Don’t ever subscribe to the most inaccurate statement ever made: ‘if you build it, they will come’. Nothing could be further from the truth.
You can do this yourself by making sure you have good SEO practices. Get your meta descriptions in order, and get some backlinks – preferably from guest blogging on other people’s websites or getting some articles published via some effective PR. And add your website to the many listing sites out there such as scoot, yelp, and google my business (for local businesses).
So set up your blog page – post regularly and use keywords and phrases to make your content searchable. Write in short paragraphs and use headings. Also, use video where possible as this will benefit your SEO more than just text.
With PR, if you spend time researching suitable publications, websites and broadcast media who may be interested in your stories, and developing relationships with relevant journalists, you can get some great coverage – and make sure they feature your website domain name, so you get a backlink.
Remember to answer the questions: Who? What? Why? Where? When? When you write your press release and keep it concise so a journalist can understand the key points.
You can also increase your engagement by keeping your social media channels up to date and include not only stories about what is happening in your company, but also lots of relevant stories from the wider world – this way you are more about enhancing user experience than just talking about internal matters which often do not interest your prospects.
If you have the budget, you can also use social ads and PPC, but study the best ways to do this in depth-first, as you can spend much money for no result if you are not very careful. My advice would be to save up and get an expert in to help you.
To sum up
So marketing on a tight budget is very achievable – the secret is to study current techniques, get up to speed and keep as much of your work as possible in-house. For some things, you will have to commission external resources, but try to minimise these and make sure you always keep an eye on your ROI.
Author: Angela Knox
Angela Knox is a Marketing Consultant whose aim is to use her experience to assist SME’s and their owners to develop their business and marketing strategies. With more than 30 years’ experience which spans a wide range of business sectors and activities, particularly financial services, she utilises well tried and tested techniques which work for companies of all sizes.
From working within a company environment and also as a Consultant, Angela has developed a wide range of business and marketing skills. Using these skills, she has advised many companies on all aspects of strategic and operational marketing activity, both digital and traditional.
From Blue Chip companies to SME’s, Angela has developed a tailored approach for each company she has worked with as a marketing consultant, from working as part of a team and independently on a project.