There’s usually a point for every SME business where marketing comes to the forefront of what the business is doing and forms part of the answer to where they want to be next. It’s around this time that businesses start to look at their options both in terms of marketing channels, activity and how they might deliver it.
Suddenly there’s a lot of questions to be answered and a quick trip down the rabbit hole which is Google searching will bring back a multitude of confusing options and solutions, brand strategies, content strategies, online advertising, investing in costly tools, hiring agencies or staff and more, it’s little wonder that many SMEs just put marketing back on the shelf for now or spend unwisely as a result.
Is it really that complicated?
The answer is no, but it's easy not to know where to start when you're unfamiliar with something, the good news is you know more than you think.
Here I share just 4 tips to get your marketing journey started, utilising the strengths that you have and knowledge at your disposal and which will introduce you and your business to marketing and help to inform your future decisions.
Position yourself as an expert
Because you are! but it’s of little use if you don’t tell anyone, a simple way to do this is to start a blog which demonstrates your expertise but remember you’re only interested in talking to your niche, those clients you really want to work with and who will want to work with you. Think about the clients you’ve already worked with, what problems did you solve for them? what questions did they come to you with? what do you get asked time and time again? get those thoughts on paper and share them. If you have a website you could create an extra section for blogging, if you don’t or your website doesn’t support that, utilise free options like a tumblr blog or LinkedIn Pulse.
There are tons of different types of content blogging, social media, video, speaking at events, I don’t for one second recommend you try and do them all at once, maybe you’ll never do some of them that’s fine. Choose one to begin with and do it really really well, don’t be drawn into thinking you need lots of expensive tools to create content either. You can film a video on your smartphone, edit it for free in iMovie and publish it for free on YouTube. The key is getting your content and expertise out there in front of your ideal client and not how much you spend on producing it.
Educate don’t network
I’ve got nothing against networking but I’m willing to bet you’re already doing that and the leads probably aren’t flying in? there’s nothing wrong with networking but here quality over quantity is key. Think about where your ideal clients are likely to be - that’s where you want to be too. Consider hosting events which demonstrate your expertise and offer something tangible to take away for your prospects and, don’t forget your existing network of contacts - because its easy for them to forget you! re-engage them with an update on what you’re doing now and the types of clients you’d like to be working with - you never know where your next referral might come from.
Use an expert - but only when you know what you want.
Whilst I’m not trying to do myself out of a job here, I’m a firm believer of dipping your toe in the water first, you can find an expert to do all of the above and more but before you do it’s worth getting familiar with marketing practices so that when the time comes to invest in expertise for any or all of your marketing needs you’ll be comfortable with what you want that person to do for your brand and business.
It’s a great place to be for you and the person coming into your business they’ll know where you need them to add value and be clear on priorities from the outset.
And finally, remember you’re in for the long haul, once you start, marketing never really stops and you won’t see results right away in the form of clients through the door or cash in the till but remain tightly focused on your ideal client, trust in what you are doing and you will see success.
Want to build your brand without blowing your budget, let’s talk email@example.com
It's a question I've asked many times during my career and it's usually in response to a statement like ' We should do some PR' or ' let's do an email marketing campaign' Marketers love ideas and people love to bring ideas to us, but just acting on ideas with no strategic direction is a risky course to take and particularly if you're an SME, large businesses tend to have both the resource and financial cushion to go off-piste but when budgets and time are considerably tighter business and marketing strategy have to work in partnership.
You'll already have a vision for your business offering a great product or service, standing out from your competitors and having satisfied customers or clients. As a result, you'll likely have some form of business strategy or goals you want to achieve but aligning marketing activity to these goals is often overlooked, and it's not because SMEs don't see the value in marketing but, rather that they're often too busy working in and running their business to really get to the core of what marketing activity will be best to achieve those goals,
But they know they need to be doing 'something'
This is where marketing activity usually just starts happening without much effect and it’s here that the ‘why’ question really needs to be answered and where strategy needs to be put in place.
Why do you want to do marketing activity at all? what are you trying to achieve in line with your wider business objectives as a result of that marketing activity? once you know the answers to those questions you can begin to address the different types of marketing and channels available and make educated and strategic decisions on how you’ll move your business forward through marketing efforts.
Asking why isn’t just for the beginning stages of your marketing journey, are you looking to introduce something new to your marketing efforts? Why? and if you don’t have the answer it’s time to revisit your strategy and ensure the activity being delivered is aligned to your overall business goals.
Your business and its' needs will evolve and your marketing strategy needs to support that so don’t be afraid to keep asking why.
Are you looking to introduce marketing to your business? Not sure where to start or how to align to overall business goals? Let's talk firstname.lastname@example.org
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