Marketing is one of the cornerstones for any successful business. But for SMEs it needs to be done on a finite budget and can often fall outside a business owner’s area of expertise. Jonathan Cowan, Commercial Product Manager for Sage UK’s small business division, talks about how businesses can effectively communicate a credible message.
Marketing your small business can be seen as a bit of a dark art if most of your expertise is focused on your product or service, but without promoting your firm or offering to your target market then no one will know you exist.
If done incorrectly, your businesses marketing could be seen as inauthentic, which at best is ineffective and at worst leads to people questioning your brand and putting off potential customers.
Have a clear standpoint and differentiate. The most important thing is that your brand has a clear standpoint and message, and that this message differentiates them from other brands. Without standing for something and working to become synonymous with a message, icon, product or service then all the marketing in the world cannot make your brand resonate. What is the talking point of your brand that you want to communicate?
The brand ‘Innocent’ is an excellent example of a company that has done this really well, working up from a small company to a successful international business, understanding its unique selling point right from the beginning and always putting this at the forefront of any customer communications.
Know your customers. Once you have identified your message, you can start to think about how to market it effectively. For your businesses authenticity to come across in your marketing strategy, you need to target the right group so your marketing message will receive maximum pull through. Your product or service will not be universally relevant so marketing it to the wrong audience will call your credibility into question and not achieve the desired results.
Do social right. Social media channels are no longer a niche nice to have, they have become a mainstream way in which many people interact with brands. It is a field that is attractive to companies as it is very cheap, but there is absolutely no point in creating a Facebook page or setting up a Twitter profile if you do not use it to interact positively with your customer base.
Social media is invaluable for gathering information and feedback from your customers, but there is also much more that it can support. But to tap into this requires a different mindset. Brands need to have a social media strategy that encourages others to tweet about you and your products, commenting on your activity and hopefully endorsing you. This will provide a more credible marketing message than merely using social media platforms as a distribution tool, by creating far more of an amplified message that will create a lasting impression on a social media user.
The important thing to remember about creating a credible marketing strategy is you must be clear on the authentic message that permeates through your business, and who you want to receive this message. Without a credible business and a transparent approach to marketing, your consumers will see right through you. With a clear and well thought out approach, you don’t have to dedicate a sizeable budget to use marketing expand your business to its full potential.