For small businesses with a tight hold on their purse strings, marketing is often seen as a bit of a luxury – an afterthought at best. But if you’re in the know, there are ways of covering the essentials, meaning you can still achieve that cherry-on-top finish without the huge spends.
That’s right – we think you can still ‘do’ marketing, and do it well, on the cheap. From the most essential rules of marketing to utilising nifty online media, Opus Energy’s in-house marketing team have compiled their number one commandments for self-promotion and brand control.
So if you’re a small business that wants – nay, needs – to jump on the marketing bandwagon: Read on.
1. “Focus on the thing you do best.”
Lynn Morrison, Marketing Manager
“I think that the most important thing a small business owner can do is to focus on the thing they do best and to use that as a guide for any DIY marketing,” explains Lynn Morrison, who heads up the Marketing department at Opus Energy.
“For example, if the owner is passionate about photography, Instagram and Pinterest and a photo blog could be a good option. If they are a born networker, going to trade shows and joining trade associations might be a better fit. If they like writing, why not try doing some guest posts for other sites?
“SME owners have limited time and resources, so there is no point in spending what time is available doing something that they dislike or don’t understand.”
2. “Get your marketing strategy right, and build a plan that supports it.”
Louise Williams, Senior Marketing Executive
Getting the foundations of a good marketing strategy laid is crucial for making sure your marketing plan works. Not sure of the difference? Louise explains:
“A good marketing strategy is directly related to your business goals and objectives, and works together with your marketing plan.
“To break it down, the marketing strategy should outline what it is you want to do, and the marketing plan contains all the details of how you’re going to do it. So, for example, if your objective is to gain broader market reach, the strategy could be to introduce new market segments. Your marketing plan could then insist of developing a campaign to reach out to your new specific segments.
“Think of all the marketing tools available when you build up your plan, and make sure you include a timeline of goals. Another tip: why not measure your marketing campaigns before launch to see what works and what doesn’t? The feedback you receive could benefit you in future campaigns and guide you in future marketing planning.”
3. “Work out the most efficient means of marketing your business.”
Kate Robarts, Marketing Executive
One great medium to start using is your email, recommends Kate. “Email marketing costs little compared to other forms of marketing, and often has the highest ROI [return on investment]. There are many good email marketing programmes out there which you can use to send emails out to a lot of people at once, and often these are free to use.
“Emails could include newsletters, special offers or invitations to upcoming events. Whatever it is, make sure the content is engaging to your audience… And make sure you measure your ‘open’ and ‘response’ rates and use these to inform your next campaign.”
4. “Have an online presence, no matter what.”
Sneha Kadaba, Senior Digital Marketing Executive
“The most important thing you can do for your business’s online presence is creating a website and keeping it up to date. Even if you’re not an online business, your customers will be online and having a website makes it easier for them to find you,” says Sneha, Opus Energy’s digital guru.
“Getting a website up and running isn’t as challenging as it used to be, but if you’re not particularly tech-savvy, consider bringing in professionals to help. Freelance website designers tend to be more affordable than working with agencies. When you’re setting up your site, be sure to build it (or have it built) on a content management system like WordPress, which will make it easy for you to update it yourself.”
5. “Ensure that social media is integrated throughout your business.”
Stefanie Silson, Digital Marketing Assistant
If you’re going to do social media, make sure you do it right – don’t treat it as a chore that gets done once a week and is then forgotten, and make sure it’s everywhere.
“For example, include on your email signature the tag line ‘Join in on the conversation at Facebook’, or have active links,” says Stefanie. “Alternatively, have your Twitter handle on posters or flyers that you hand out so that they can find you online.”
Stefanie also notes the importance of knowing your social media sites so you can properly communicate and maximise your exposure. For example, “Don’t put a Twitter handle first as the person you are tweeting to, as only your and their followers will be able to see it. Instead put a period in front of the handle or put the handle name at the end of the tweet.”
6. “Set goals and targets and aim to achieve something.”
Sandra Sarac, Marketing Assistant
These can be anything such starting a company blog, doing a meet and greet with customers, planning a pop up shop, or running customer competition, explains Sandra.
“It’s important that people stick to a plan and follow it through till the end. It shows that you’re committed and dedicated. This will also reflect well on the company and the end result will determine whether or not that marketing strategy was the right one for your business.”
With these five guidelines, you’re equipped to get your small business up and running with a consistent, digital-age-friendly, and effective marketing plan. Keep checking back for more SME advice and tips!