5 top marketing tips for businesses to survive the downturn
As a small business owner, I am often asked, "How are you coping?", " Do you wish you had not started your business when you did" etc. There is so much doom and gloom around but I am determined to ignore this rhetoric and seek the opportunities that exisit. Richard Branson in a recent media interview commented that the key to survive these times is to be creative, innovative and look outside the square at new opportunities that you may have not considered before.
Based on this, I have compiled some top essential marketing tips for SMEs to consider during these difficult times. Marketing doesn't need to cost the earth but is something that needs attention to at the same time. SMEs who are determined to get through this time and to remain positive and confident, need to avoid shying away from active marketing, promotion and the process of exploring new business opportunities.
Top 5 Tips
1. Revisiting the basics - review your marketing plan. Now is the time for businesses to review their marketing plans. Businesses need marketing plans and programs that take into consideration changing market trends and customer behaviour. Through the process of reviewing your plan, you may find that a previous unique selling proposition that you were using in your marketing activities no longer resonates with your customer base or is appropriate.
Businesses need to sharpen their pencils and get the creative juices flowing! Brain storm and really think about what is it about your business that is different, how can you bring or add value to your customers in the current environment and how are you going to get your message to them. A good marketing plan doesn't need to be complicated. It needs to be realistic, practical and can be implemented and measured.
2. Be creative and innovative - think outside the square. When you review your business or marketing plan, you really need to think outside the square. It can be hard for businesses to change the way they do things including review of their product/service mix, pricing and means of promotion. However it needs to be done. Sometimes having an external specialist come in to facilitate the process can make it easier and can get businesses across the line in terms of thinking about the business in a new, different way.
3. Be targeted in your approach. In times like these you want to make sure that you get the best bang for your marketing dollar. This means that you need to know and understand your customers, their needs, their purchasing behaviour and how to get to them. For example, rather than doing a blanket email campaign, segment your customers into groups (i.e. geography, industry sector, revenue size etc) and send targeted emails with specific messages that apply to that group of customers.
Do a basic customer value matrix to determine what group of customers that you should be investing in when it comes to marketing spend. This will have an impact on your marketing mix of activities and the way you go-to-market.
4. Look at the entire marketing mix. Research shows that customers often need to be touched 5 times by a brand before they make a purchase - whether it be a product or service. You need to ensure that you customers are touched by your brand in more ways than one. A PR campaign with a media mention on its own won't cut it or will a single advertisement. You need to look at all areas of the marketing mix - direct marketing, online marketing, partner marketing, media relations, referrals etc. When a customer reads about your business in the media, comes across you on the web and hears about your excellent service/product via word-of-mouth, your business is in a lot stronger selling position than if they were just to be touched once by your brand.
5. Commit to communicating your message regularly. Don't take for granted that your customers will automotically know what your latest products/services or specials are. Now is the time for you to push your message to your current and future customers regularly. There are a number of ways that you can do this that are cost effective. Email communication one part of the marketing mix to consider. Partner marketing - when having the right partners or alliances on board - is also a great way to tap into target markets. Social networking through sites like FaceBook and Linked In are other options also.