Many of our small business members say that marketing on a budget is one of their biggest areas of concern. When major players have multi million pound budgets at their disposal, it can seem almost impossible for smaller players to compete. However, smaller businesses have plenty of tricks up their sleeves, and their nimble operation and smaller size can even be an advantage.
Firstly, an SME must be truly passionate and personal about what it does, effectively acting as its own biggest fan. This has a contagious effect and will help to convince customers that you are worth taking an interest in. Hire staff who are equally passionate about your business and who can articulate its offer in a powerful, compelling way. Very often, chance conversations can start a viral effect and lead to business opportunities from surprising sources.
Focus on building profitable connections and leverage your nimble size to build up personal contacts and engagement. Keep in touch with prospects and customers alike and work hard to understand their needs and motivations. Show that you listen, go the extra mile and create a brand experience in their mind that keeps them coming back for more. Remember, good relationships lie at the heart of all business, and as a smaller brand, you can invest in yours in a personal way that big brands can only dream of.
If your business lends itself to events and networking, then make sure that you have high quality business cards on hand with a variety of contact options available. Hand them out at events and have your 'elevator pitch' ready. Don't worry about a hard sell; just talk about the business you believe in and show your passion for it. This is compelling and authentic and if you can really learn to listen to your customers, you will reap the rewards of doing so. It is also worth carrying a brief introduction to your business, perhaps a Z-card or an A6 postcard size flyer which is easy to store and refer to again.
In terms of traditional marketing, direct marketing can be a powerful marketing tool if you have invested in quality data that allows you to target your activity for the greatest return. There are various direct mail services who can quote for print and production as well as fulfilment, or you can design and produce your own material separately for a mailing services provider to send out. Either way, the FSB can help you to find the best approach for your business. It is also well worthwhile investing in digital marketing as most audiences are now active online, whether that is via a website, an app or through social media.
Whatever you choose to do marketing-wise this year, measure the results closely so that you can see if your activity is having the desired effect. By doing this, you can then juggle and reassign budgets during the year, phasing out activity that isn't working or re-aligning it to try something new, whilst investing more heavily in those activities which are clearly demonstrating a return on investment.
What activities will you be pursuing this year to get the most bang from your smaller marketing buck?