Chances are you have been flooded/starved of* information about business planning, forecasting, strategy/marketing/sales (add other words and areas to this list, as it is pretty much a never-ending story!).
Fear not. We are here to save the day with some extremely simple ideas and advice for you, for your marketing.
Strange word marketing. What does it mean to you?
Well, to us, it is the ‘means, method and strategy’ to get your product or service to market (aka ‘getting punters to become paying customers’).
Not to be confused with advertising and promotion (yes, they are different!).
Facebook, Twitter, PPC, SEO, Radio Advertising, Flyers, TV advertising, these are all forms of advertising and promotion and part of a marketing campaign or strategy on a wider basis.
Don’t be distracted by the ‘shiny whistles and bells’, there is some groundwork to do, before you spend even one penny on advertising and promotion.
If you are sitting there and thinking, “well marketing sounds all very good and highbrow and is totally NOT necessary for me, I’ll just put some budget behind stuff and see what happens”, then fair enough.
But, what if we told you there is an easier way. A more cost effective way, to make your pennies work harder and go further?
The holy grail of business I hear you say?
No, it is straightforward enough and there are a few things to consider first.
A marketing strategy does not have to be long winded, but boils down to answering a few key questions:
What are you selling? What problem does your product/service solve?
Come up with one sentence that describes exactly what your product or service does and how it benefits your customers.
Usually this takes a few hours to succinctly come up with something compelling. Putting it into a sentence, is the modern day equivalent of trying to solve a Rubik’s cube (without cheating and peeling off the stickers), so get together with friends and family and come up with your one liner.
Then test it on strangers and see if they can understand from this one sentence exactly what you do. If they can’t then you need to start over.
If you had an ideal list of people to sell to right now, what would they look like?
Get down to details - what age are they, male or female, what income bracket, job title, where do they hang out, what radio stations do they listen to, what do they read, who are their influencers, what are their hobbies, do they have kids, what level of education do they have?
Give them names and stick them on the wall of your office/kitchen wall/spare room wall*.
I even go so far as getting a photo of what they look like (and yes, on a quiet day, I have been known to have a conversation with them when the dog has been otherwise engaged).
If your promotional activity does not speak directly to these people/personas to influence them to buy from you, then your advertising and promotion may be very costly and ultimately, it will fail.
For example, if you are targeting your latest bike ‘widget’ at males called ‘Dave’, aged 20-30, then you are not going to place an advert in Vogue magazine for example.
You may however, consider advertising to bike enthusiasts through your Facebook page and use Facebook targeted advertising to track males, aged 20-30 by post code/geographical area and boost posts. This is likely to be much more cost effective for your business.
But it gets better - What else can your buyer personas help with?
Does this sound familiar?
“I go to lots of networking events, but don’t get anything from them”. Another thing we hear. A lot!
You have a picture of ‘Dave’ (or Shirley depending on your market), you can then breeze into the networking room, clearly identify ‘Dave’ from his ‘swagger’ and general demeanour (your buyer persona) and talk to him about bike ‘widgets’ (please remember though, that as we are British you do have to ask him at the very least about the weather first, or even he may freak out. Also check that he has a bike, or he may not need the ‘widgets’ that you are selling!).
The questions to ask yourself on entering the room (time is of the essence):
Is there anyone in this room that matches my buyer persona/or would mingle/come into contact with them (wife, mother, father, boss etc)?
Where are they? (Go and talk to them)
Can I get an introduction (do you know someone else there that knows them?)
What are they likely to be talking about?
Find those that you think most likely match your persona and get to know them!
Get to the event early and stay late. That’s when the business is done
Talk to everyone, including the receptionist – they know everything that goes on and I mean everything
Use your time wisely, networking is not a chat. It is time for you to get to know as many new people based on your buyer personas as possible.
If the event is well organised, you are normally able to get a list in advance of those attending and you can look them up on Google or LinkedIn and research them in advance (be careful though; there is a fine line between researching and stalking!).
If there is no advance list, there is normally one issued when you go in, so ask. You can then take this back to your lair and put it into an e-mail database (check consents first though!).
Are you B2C or B2B?
Business is like a whole new language, but basically, you need to know which market you are in (you may already know).
B2C = Business to consumer (you are selling directly to the consumer for example retail shops, big supermarkets, soft drinks, chocolate bars, hairdressers etc).
B2B = Business to business (i.e. a service contract for the maintenance of an office building, industrial cleaning companies; where a service or product is delivered direct to a business).
Normally a company falls into one category, but there are instances where a company may have both elements. Where this is the case, you need a marketing strategy for both markets as they are very different in terms of operation and how buyers consume information/buy products.
So, by the time you have read this far, you should have an idea of your market of operation (B2C or B2B) and some pictures of your target buyers plastered on the wall.
So what happens next?
Testing. Yes, testing.
The question we are most commonly asked is: ‘How do I get more sales’?
The answer is as follows:
Identify your market proposition (your company one liner)
Have a look at a 12 month budget for promotion and advertising and map your activity against that – measure what works and how your customers are responding/to what
Decide which forms of advertising will appeal most to Dave or Shirley – only do those that are relevant to your market, otherwise it is wasted budget
These are not necessarily the forms of advertising and promotion that you are comfortable with using, seek advice if you are unsure how to use certain advertising methods
Test a small amount of budget but commit to more than a day or a week. It takes time to build awareness
If you want people to call or visit your website, then say so in your advertising and promotional material, this is termed ‘call to action’
Tell people about it – at every opportunity – at the bus stop, all the family, all your friends, never stop telling people. You should always be looking for customers, even on holiday!
The one thing that I have learned since launching my own company is how much my chargeable time is worth.
If you are not an expert in an area, then an expert can formulate a plan and resolve your issues in very little time. This can cost you less money to outsource, you can then concentrate on your area of operational strength.
For example, I am vastly experience at sales and marketing but accounts? Nay, nay and thrice nay! So outsource what you cannot do and concentrate on the stuff that you are really good at, as your business grows.
So, in conclusion. Get your ducks in a row before spending your pennies.
A bit of planning goes a long way and try not to use a ‘scattergun’ approach to advertising and promotion, building slowly and surely works every time. If you find that one channel works really well for you, then build on that.
Rome wasn’t built in a day my friends.
About the author:
Becky Lodge is the Business Founder of Little Kanga.
Becky launched her company in March 2015 and is based at a coworking ‘Innovation Space’ located at the University of Portsmouth. For start-ups, freelancers and entrepreneurs, Little Kanga offers remote ‘pay as you go’ advice on FaceTime or Skype.
Little Kanga would love to hear your feedback on the above, particularly if you used any of the above ideas or had any brilliant results or ‘light bulb’ moments stemming from this article! You can email them to [email protected] or tweet them @YourLittleKanga.