Our experience tells us that small businesses often make one of two classic errors. Firstly they may decide to spend significant amounts of money on marketing materials that offer a poor return on investment or damage their brand. Or if cash flow is tight they may be tempted to go for a cheap option – low cost business cards and DIY websites. Typically they then have to spend again when they realise that the cheap option does not achieve their business objectives and portrays the wrong image.
Another mistake we commonly see is small businesses doing a little bit of everything or jumping on the latest marketing bandwagon rather than employing a carefully considered strategic approach.
The approach that we share with our clients is that of helping them get the most out of their marketing budget, ensuring that the investment delivers optimal returns and that results of activity are rigorously tracked and evaluated. We live by the sentiment of one of the greatest advertising men of all time - “We Sell or Else” (David Ogilvy)
To ensure that the marketing strategy is always fit for purpose we use the same planning principles that we use when evolving campaigns for some of the UK’s biggest brands because they also apply to SMEs……….
For instance – and it may sounds obvious – always know your customers -– you need to know your target audience inside out, what they read, what websites they visit, what phrases they use to describe your product or service. This will help derive the key insight that is needed to formulate good creative ideas that tap into the needs and motivations of your customers. It will also help you make sure you are found on-line.
Another simple principle is that of knowing your numbers…. If you cannot tell us what your profit margin is then we cannot evaluate how much investment to put behind something like PPC (Pay per Click) or Google Ad words.
Always make sure your website is as good as it can be. It is the shop window of your business and usually the first port of call for prospective customers. Set up analytics and study them carefully to tell you if your website is working properly or not. Make sure that any calls to action are prominently displayed – we see an unbelievable amount of websites where phone numbers and other contact details are buried in the copy at the bottom of the page. Make sure your site is optimised for mobiles as this year (2014) over 30% of all searches now start on a smartphone and you could be missing out.
There is plenty more to think about and we would advise that you consult an expert before you invest. Employing a good marketing agency is like finding a decent accountant – it will save you far more money than it ever costs!