– Henry Ford
In all its forms, marketing and promotion enables your business to grow. But consider everything that’s involved from an investment perspective and it’s easy to see why many SMEs tend to shy away from it.
Budgets constraints, staffing, creative methods and strategy — all of these things differ greatly between small and large businesses, which doesn’t make the playing field exactly level.
Understandably, smaller businesses are spending less when it comes to their marketing — as little as 2% of revenue, compared to 14% and upwards in bigger businesses — but this kind of conservation doesn’t necessarily equal strategic success. Like Henry Ford infamously said, “A man who stops advertising to save money is like a man who stops a clock to save time”.
In other words, the marketplace is always shifting, always changing, and you can’t afford to stand still and hope for the best.
The IPA Bellwether Report for 2015 revealed that marketing spend in the UK reached £20billion last year, the highest it’s been in almost a decade.
The vast majority of big marketers in the UK see driving new customers as their highest priority at the moment (73%), that’s according to last year’s AFL Marketing Spend report.
This definitely makes a lot of sense, considering that customers (both B2C and B2B) are generally spending a lot more right now. After a few tough years, the economy is picking up again. Internet usage has gathered momentum also, providing marketers with greater opportunities to reach out to their customers.
Increasing customer engagement and driving value from existing customers is also high on the agenda for big marketers — the same report shows — with the ultimate objective being to enhance customer experience right across the board.
That’s not to say smaller businesses should go irresponsibly blowing their revenue on marketing and advertising, it simply means they need to look at what the mega-marketers are doing and find ways of scaling those processes to achieve the same things.
You don’t need a costly in-house marketing department to get your message out there. All you need is the support of a skilled and knowledgeable team to effectively facilitate your brand communications.
Developing fresh, regular and engaging content
Content marketing is fast becoming one of the leading channels for customer engagement and brand awareness, with the focus very much on quality and delivery. There’s a lot of it out there at the moment, all competing for the attention of your customers, so it’s more important than ever to have a proper content marketing plan in place if you’re going to cut through the noise and stand out from the crowd.
The most vital area for publishing content is your website, which should be a company’s flagship source of fresh, regular and engaging content that new and existing customers can really use. But with so many distribution channels now available —social media, email, third-party publications and offline print —it’s important to work out the best delivery method to reach your audiences.
Omnipresent online in the ‘digital age’
Forbes declared 2014 to be the third annual ‘year of mobile’, whilst Salesforce named 2015 the year of mobile ‘for real’. Regardless of what the experts are saying, there’s no escaping the fact that it’s more important than ever that your web presence infiltrates all customer touch points and that includes mobile and tablet.
According to Media.ofcom, smartphones are considered the preferential browsing device by internet users in the UK, which means investing in marketing targeted to mobile users is absolutely vital.
All of this goes hand-in-hand with content delivery (just think about how people view and share content via their mobile devices). If you want consistent brand communication with the broadest outreach then you need to be omnipresent online.
Return of ‘traditional’ direct mail
Email is still the preferential and most highly rated marketing channel in terms of its effectiveness by both consumers and marketers. As information available online escalates, however, attention spans are dwindling and it’s far easier to simply hit delete than sift through your inbox and click to read.
When you give something people can touch, you make a more meaningful, more memorable connection, so it’s no surprise to hear that marketers are turning their attention to the traditional way of doing things. With direct mail, recipients are more likely to physically pick up your information, read it and make an actionable response.
People are just so much more receptive to print nowadays. The stigma of “junk mail” has turned into something we associate with what’s sitting in our SPAM, as opposed to what is posted through our letterbox, so it’s important to adapt your marketing strategies to align with this changing notion.
Besides, offline marketing can be a wonderful complement to your online marketing, supporting your messaging and strengthening brand awareness in a way that successfully targets and captures all of your customers.