The first two questions in the daily mind set of business owners typically are:
1. How successful is my business right now?
2. What does my order book look like in the next three months?
Whether focused on maintaining or growing your business, first thoughts tend to run to making more sales. But have you considered the positive contribution that marketing can make and how a well thought out plan of marketing activities could help you to win new customers? Marketing tools can be particularly useful if you have something specific to talk about – a new promotion, product, service or branch, for example. It can create awareness in a specific location or amongst a targeted group of people, or prompt repeat business by reminding existing customers about your products and services. From business cards and leaflets through to posters, radio and online advertising, here are a huge number of options to choose from, all with different benefits and associated costs. So how do you know what is right for your business?
But before committing any of your valuable time, money or resources to marketing, ask yourself ‘Who do I want to target?’ and ‘What do I want to achieve as a result of my advertising?’ Let’s say that you’re a plumber who has just achieved Gas Safe Accreditation and to grow your business you want to advertise your new boiler maintenance and installation service. You want to reach local people and in turn create sales enquiries.
Once you have decided this, you can focus your selection. Selecting advertising opportunities that are based in the heart of your local community will enable you to communicate with local people and tell them about your new service. It should also prompt people to talk about you, which is great news, as positive recommendations will amplify your marketing message and promote success. Putting yourself in your customer’s shoes and questioning honestly and objectively if you would respond to your advertisement will stand you in good stead too for anticipating the response you are likely to get. There is also no law that says you can only do one form of advertising at a time. In fact, a variety of different communications running at the same time, or at intervals throughout a defined period, often work much more effectively.
If people see your business name in more than one place, it will reinforce your message and act as a reminder that you are local and accessible to them. It also keeps it interesting and actively engages people with the element of surprise when they see your advertising at a
time when they least expect it. This frequency of advertising will ensure familiarity, which over time and with the right messages and customer feedback, turns into trust – leading to more recommendations! You might also consider promotional activity. If your target audience is people that have never used your plumbing services before and you want to increase enquiries in a traditionally slow month, you might consider running a special offer. This can be a great way to attract new customers who, if you provide a great service, will also become repeat customers. It also helps you test different ways of advertising by putting a unique offer on each one. Testing a number of different offers can help you to see which adverts are working for you and which offers are the most appealing to your customers.
Whatever your marketing message, the most important thing is that it will build awareness of your business and let people know you are there. After all, nobody can buy from a company if they don’t know it exists!
In summary then:
1. Start by understanding who you want to target and what you want to achieve.
2. Select the advertising that closely matches your target audience and objectives.
3. Try a mix of advertising and track it carefully to see what works best for your business.
4. Above all, marketing should never be a ‘one off’ activity. The more you do, the more recognition, enquiries and recommendations you’ll get.
Co-Owner – t4Local
Greg has been in sales and marketing forever. He’s been published and run a consultancy coaching small businesses to globals in how to sell more. T4Local’s purpose is to help every business connect their message with their local community.