Preparation, however, is essential, as the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) stresses.
What you need to remember is that different people will buy your products for different reasons. Maybe they rate the quality of your solutions or perhaps they are drawn by the price or the level of after-sale support. By finding out why people are buying your products and why they are getting them from you rather than your rivals, you are able to discover your strengths.
The Chartered Institute of Marketing publishes a series of guides to small business marketing, click here to find out more.
Clive Simpson, managing director of marketing consultancy SimComm Europe reckons that “knowing your customer base and market is essential” and points out that “there is no harm at all in asking your existing customers why they buy from you.”
Try a range of marketing techniques
Yet market research is only the tip of the iceberg. Even when you find out who your prospective customers are you still need to go out there and get them.
According to Simpson, mixing mailing systems, both postal and email with follow-up phone calls, is probably the best way to go. He also suggests, however, that bringing on professional help can be well worth the extra expense.
“You wouldn’t think twice about hiring an accountant or lawyer and PR can work out much cheaper than advertising,” he explains. “Just bringing in someone who has contacts and knows how to write a press release can make a big difference.”
Even if you decide not to bring in a media specialist you should still look to target the trade press. Find out what magazines are produced in your sector and try to get some coverage in them. If you can afford to, it may also be worth taking out a small advertisement in one of these publications as this is likely to bring you into contact with many potential clients.
First impressions count
There are simple things you can do too, says Simpson. “Search engine optimisation is a must”, especially if you are an e-commerce solutions company.
And make sure that any logos and letterheads you use look professionally designed even if they are not. “First impressions are all important when approaching new clients.”
Whatever marketing methods you opt for, bear in mind that you are going to need a system in place to deal with the queries you receive – if not you could be throwing new business away.
But don’t forget the old marketing adage that it is up to ten times cheaper to retain an existing customer than it is to gain a new one. Keep your clientele happy and look for ways of selling additional products and services to them, as this is far more cost-effective than drumming up new custom.
“If you look after them like they are your only clients you can’t go wrong. If they feel they are playing second fiddle, however, they’ll go elsewhere,” concludes Simpson.