One of the first items that is cut in an economic downturn is the marketing budget. Often it is perceived as expensive and it is not always easy to see that there is some benefit from the cost expended. And this might be true if you focus on the wrong things. Many would argue that the time to increase or at least maintain marketing activity is during a downturn when many of your competitors are reducing their campaigns.
Here are a few first aid tips to keep your lead generation and brand image marketing going while not spending a fortune:
- Understand clearly who your customers are. Write a specification for your ideal customer. What they are business or consumer or both; what size they are; what do they do; why do they buy from you; what do they buy from you. Once you have a clear idea ensure that all the rest of your activity addresses this ‘ideal customer’ wherever possible.
- Review all marketing messages. Ensure that they speak to the range of customers you have or are targeting and that they address an issue that the potential client has.
- Differentiators. How are you different from your competitors? If you are not sure try to develop a different way of approaching and communicating with your customers
- How are you getting to market? Have you optimised the channels through which you sell? Are the messages created above suitable for the channels you have chosen?
- Markets- are there different markets that you have not tried before?
- What about Export? It is not as difficult as you might think.
- For many businesses it is the preferred method for many companies to find new customers. Local chambers of commerce are a good place to start. There are trade and professional membership organisations which have networking events where you can meet potential customers. Speed networking is becoming more popular and this is an opportunity to meet 30-40 potential customers who are there for one purpose – to network with you. If you are still not sure, Google ‘networking in…. (you location)’ and you will be surprised at the number of organisations that have networking events.
- Although there is a cost associated with this, it is usually minimal but the return can be substantial. Restrict yourself to a few events at first but keep at it. Good business relationships are not forged in one day.
- Follow up on the contacts you meet. Too many people expect that they will get business from their one contact with someone at one of these events. Take their details and agree with them that they are happy for you to call them.
- Under this heading falls a wide range of activities that in general only costs your time. These include news items, case studies, and technical, business or trade articles, new product releases and so on.
- Often this activity is free!
- There are a number of preparatory steps you need to undertake to ensure that your press release is used and not spiked like those of your competitors.
- Firstly identify the journals, newspapers and trade magazines that you want your story to appear in. Then contact each of the editors by phone to discuss their requirements for style and any mechanical details they require although now it is rare for an editor not to be able to accept story and any pictures by email. Also check for upcoming features that might be suitable to tie into. Keep in touch with editors to become a ‘specialist’ to whom he can turn for industry quotes etc. Become the expert.
- Make the item news worthy
- Focus around the messages you want to deliver.
- You will be surprised the effect this will have on your customers and may have the opportunity to generate more prospects.
- Remember that there are many ezines now available so remember to submit your article to these also.
- Does your website work for you? Is it delivering your message(s) to the target audience?
- Review your home page to ensure that you talk about the benefits you can deliver rather than what you do.
- Research key words to allow you to optimise your site so that it can be found when a prospect searches for those words.
- Make maximum use of the tools that can be found (often for free) on the internet to maximise the effectiveness of this resource.
- E marketing covers a variety of techniques to get your messages across to the target market. However most people use it as direct mailing techniques using emails as the medium.( http://www.abio.ltd.uk/services/emarketing)
- Ensure you have all your customers’ email addresses
- Build up a database of prospects email addresses. This can be done either by buying an opt in list from a list broker or by building your database by capturing the details of visitors to your website.
- Send regular emails to these lists with latest offers, new products, events etc.
- A newsletter can get across a lot more information to your prospects and customers.
- You can include industry news as well as company news, technical information as well as products offers etc.
- This will also build your image and credibility if you include others such as the thought leaders in your local business market, in your newsletter list
- There are a number of directories which serve your market. These can be printed or online directories
- Research which ones suit you and your customers and get a suitable entry reflecting you marketing messages.
- Ensure where possible to get links to and from your entry to help build traffic to your site
- This may not at first sight be something that you might consider. However note the title is Telemarketing not telesales.
- In telemarketing you can build interest through a suitably qualified telephone call and then make an appointment for your sales person to meet with the prospect
- Or you can get commitment to try/buy a sample, or agree to receive further information
- If you are going to do this yourself get some information about best practice and use it.
- This is a more expensive option and takes a great deal of organisation.
- For standard seminars it allows you to be seen as an expert in your field and is suitable for technical presentations, education, new product launches, workshops and many more.
- Follow up afterwards to get feedback and to meet customers to discuss how your product and service can help them.
These are only some ideas that you can use to help revive your business and develop your marketing activity. Marketing is a business activity and should be integrated into the business planning process. But what ever you do make sure that you measure the results from each element of the activity so that you can understand where to put your marketing spend in the future.