Many SMEs fail to give sufficient importance to their marketing efforts, especially when the business is running smoothly and revenue is achieving targets. Sometimes, it’s only when profits start falling and regular customers aren’t returning that business owners begin looking at their marketing strategies. By this time, it might be too late for the business, making it harder to recover from a sales slump. To reduce the risk of this happening, SME owners need to always keep the marketing fundamentals in mind.
Have a Marketing Plan
Whether it is a lack of time, resources, or money that prevent a business implementing marketing activities, all of these stem from the absence of proper planning. Marketing strategies should automatically be a part of the business plan and should be regularly revisited to measure their effectiveness.
Do Market Research
Entrepreneurs should study how their customers think. What do they want? When do they buy? What prompts repeat sales? Customer behavior, expectations, buying patterns, and other vital factors that have an impact on the business’ profits and branding should be thoroughly studied. Marketing plans should also continuously evolve, based on this research, as the business grows to prevent stagnation.
Budget for Marketing
The hard truth is that marketing costs money. Yes, there are options that don’t cost money, but a business can’t rely on those for all of its marketing efforts. Some business owners obtain short term loans in the form of cash advances from companies like Beyond Merchant Capital to bolster their marketing activities, and this is a good way of using additional capital to increase profitability.
This is an excellent strategy for businesses that have traded more than $10,000 a month in credit and debit card sales for at least six months, as they will have the track record to demonstrate the capacity to repay their loans from future sales. If the increased marketing efforts are properly implemented, the profit from the additional sales that should result from those efforts, ought to be sufficient to cover the interest cost of the loans.
Take Advantage of Social Media
Social media has made internet usage almost ubiquitous and this revolution has affected businesses too. These platforms have become avenues for marketing and advertising, and need to be considered as a component of every marketing plan, however large or small the business is.
It can be hard to maintain accounts on multiple platforms (although larger companies employ staff to do it). SMEs should focus on those platforms that have the ability to maximize their business’ exposure. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube are always the first platforms that should be considered.
Knowing which platform works best for the business can be determined through research and experimentation. Facebook works well for many small businesses where there is a need to provide written information to accompany the visuals. Twitter is ideal for businesses like transport companies that are offering last-minute deals or time-sensitive pricing. Instagram is the ideal choice for businesses like cake shops or art dealers where it is visual impact that sells. YouTube is the best platform for using ‘how-to’ videos to help sell products.
Some businesses use animated explainer videos since they have higher conversion rates compared to still images. These are video clips explaining the products or services a business provides. They can make infographics more appealing and meaningful, and make ideas more easily understandable to everyone. They’re inexpensive yet they can have powerful impact, which makes them popular among small businesses with limited marketing budgets.
Boost Online Presence
It’s essential for any SME of a reasonable size to have a website to back up their social media activity. A well designed website provides a more authoritative and professional image for a business. Websites should contain more detailed information about the business and serve as a resource platform for potential customers that have been attracted through social media marketing.
Having a website alone is not enough to retain audience attention. It needs to be updated regularly by posting relevant and useful content on the site. SMEs can showcase their expertise in their field by publishing helpful articles while promoting their products and services at the same time. This can be done through a blog or news section of the website.
Attend Workshops and Seminars
Keeping up to date with the latest trends and ideas in marketing is a continuous process. SME owners can benefit from attending workshops and seminars to learn about new techniques and tools that will improve their marketing activities. This also allows business owners to meet new people and further expand their business networks.
Do Something Different
Everyone is trying something different to stand out, making it tougher to find a marketing idea that will make customers remember a business more than its competitors. However, through ongoing research, experimentation, and hopefully some creativity, entrepreneurs will increase their chances of eventually striking gold in formulating a promotional strategy that works for their branding.
The overriding objective in all marketing activities should be to create something that will leave a mark on the minds of consumers – something that when recognized, becomes solely attributable to that business. It could be a logo, a promotional video, a catchphrase, or something compiled with music – many things are possible.