It used to be the case that an SME could just place a small advert in their local directory, or list their service in the classified section and they’d nailed their marketing for the year. However these tactics are no longer as effective as they once were.
Traditional advertising may still be an aspect of marketing your business, but in order to have the most success, your promotion now needs to be much more structured and across many different places. This may sound daunting, but following the framework below will put your small business in a great position.
Target the relevant people
In order to make the best use of your advertising and marketing, you need to ensure that you’re reaching those potential customers that are most likely to use your business or services. Think about how your typical customers are most easily reached i.e. younger customers are active on Instagram, but only 7% of over 50s have an account on this network, so if you’re looking to entice 55-year-olds, it would be unwise to invest your time on this network.
It’s not just new customers either. A small business shouldn’t assume that a customer will remain loyal and use them repeatedly. Although it’s true that it’s easier to gain business from previous customers, you need to ensure that your business stays top of mind and in their decision making. An effective way to do this is to run email campaigns for current customers or use social media to engage in conversations.
Keep it personal
According to Avery WePrint, the number one reason that UK shoppers choose to buy from small businesses is the personalised service they receive. Therefore, it’s important that this is reflected in your marketing too. Small business owners typically know their customers much better than larger companies and so you understand their different needs and can tailor a service based on this.
Offering varying promotions to different customers based on their previous buying habits can be much more effective than rolling out a discount across one product that may only be of value to a handful of customers. If a customer consistently buys a shampoo from your salon each month, offering them 20% off the complimenting conditioner would entice them more than just placing a hairspray on special offer to all customers.
Emails are a great opportunity to personally address people. Investing in an email management platform, like MailChimp or our own service, can ensure that messages are personalised to a recipient’s first name which can help develop a connection. This could make a real difference as Adestra reported that personalised subject lines are 22% more likely to be opened.
Time it right
Just as in telling a good joke, the role of timing in marketing is crucial. Sending out messages that aren’t relevant to the time of year they’re sent, or at times when they’re unlikely to be read is a waste of your own time and resources.
If you typically work Monday to Friday it may seem a good idea to spend some time at the weekend sending out emails. However, research from Experian found that emails sent on weekdays are almost twice as likely to be read, with those sent mid-morning performing more strongly than a late-afternoon or evening send. Customers and potential customers will typically be less engaged at weekends (including Friday as people wind down) when they spend their time on activities with family and friends.
Considering your own capabilities and managing your workload is just as important. To drive visitors to your website or business you may choose to use some search engine marketing such as Google AdWords. However, running your AdWords at midnight may lead to a potential customer contacting you when no one is able to respond. Additionally, you may want to consider putting your campaign on pause if your business has a sudden rush or a staff member is off sick. This will ensure you can give every new potential customer the time and dedication they deserve.
Put the customer first
As mentioned earlier, the main selling point of a small business is the personal approach you can give your customers over larger businesses and brands. With this in mind, it’s important to put your customers at the heart of all your marketing and what you do. If in the evening you’re unable to take calls, it may seem obvious to set a voicemail for people to leave a message and dedicate a set time every morning to respond to these enquiries, but it’s surprising how many companies still neglect to do this.
It’s now also the case that social media is used for customer service, with many customers turning to Facebook or Twitter to ask a business a question, complain about a problem, or praise a company that has exceeded expectations. Therefore, replying directly and promptly to customer questions will make them feel valued and listened to.
By going the extra mile, your customers will value and appreciate their experience with your business. The time you ordered in that special product, or unblocked someone’s drain at 9pm, are obvious examples of putting your customer first. This in turn increases the likelihood that a customer will think of you the next time they need a similar service, recommend to a friend, or write an outstanding review of your business for all the internet to see.
Marketing is all about hitting the right person, with the right message, at the right time and this is no different for a small business. With limited resources, including time and money, it’s important that your efforts are effective in securing business and you focus on what will deliver you success. Understand your customers, and put them at the heart of everything you do and you’ll be on your way to a successful campaign.