Starting a new business and wondering what marketing is all about it and if it’s worth investing in? Then this is the blog for you! Read our dummies guide to marketing to help point your fledgling business in right direction.
What Is Marketing?
Marketing, put in its simplest form, is the promotion and selling of products. It is putting your business and products under the spotlight and showcasing what you do best to a broader audience. You are already undertaking a form of marketing when you are selling to your customers over the phone or during face to face interactions. Every time you recommend a product or offer your expertise and advice to a customer, you effectively undertake marketing your business. Elevating your approach doesn’t have to feel like a giant step, as the likelihood is that you are already a marketeer in some shape or form!
What Forms Does Marketing Take?
The promotional funnels you choose to market your business can encompass many mediums (and not limited to): Print, advertising, podcasts, website blog content, Google business, customer review platforms, newsletter mailouts, social media, events, TV and radio. Whether you choose to opt for a couple of these marketing avenues or all of them, the reality is that most businesses will have a Facebook page and be familiar with ‘selling’ their products or services.
Looking at different avenues is just about expanding your reach to existing and potential customers. Finding the right platform to market your business is significant. For example, if you are promoting your business on a social media platform such as Twitter and your general customer demographic is majority female, and over the age of 30, you might find that Facebook is a better place to invest your marketing efforts.
That’s not to say that posting on Twitter won’t capture some customer interest. However, when working on tight budgets and limited hours, it makes sense to concentrate your efforts on areas that will give you the best return and customer reach. If you imagine standing in a room with a table filled with your products and people passing, but no one is stopping to look or chat, you’d find it hard to make a sale.
Choosing the right funnel is a bit like this scenario: You want people to stop, look and pick up a conversation with your business (go to your website/make a phone call/drop you an email or comment on social media). Interactions like these helps build relationships, and relationships lead to sales. People like to buy from people and businesses. Consumers want to feel they have a connection with your business, and successful marketing can help create this for you.
Why Should I Spend Money On Marketing
If you don’t market your business, you will easily get left behind in the fast-paced digital consumer era we now live in. Consumers went online to be entertained and shop during the lockdown. Despite lockdown restrictions being eased, these digital habits have remained. Whether you are a bricks and mortar business or offer a service, spending money on promotion is a sound investment for your business. Small companies will constantly scrutinise every penny they spend, but big global corporations have budget restraints too.
How and what they choose to spend their money on is just as important to them as the small business owner. The difference may be substantial in terms of the size of spend, but you have to ask yourself why these big corporations still invest money in PR. How are you being reminded of their existence? Why did you choose to buy that particular product? Was it through a supermarket special offer (a form of instore marketing), perhaps an advert or review you read (also marketing).
Maybe someone told you verbally, but how did they know about it? Perhaps they saw it reviewed by a social media influencer on Instagram or YouTube (a paid form of marketing). The reality is that being seen is crucial for your business, and reminding your current customers is just as important.
The bottom line is that if you are not reminding your customers you are here; your competitors will be.
A Dummies Guide To How Much Marketing Will Cost Me & How Will It Repay Me?
Focus on a long-term strategy, not as a quick fix or afterthought. Planning your spend in the first instance is vital. It’s easy to get drawn into spending ten pounds here and there on a Facebook boosted post. The reality is that those ten pounds can add up to hundreds of pounds with no tangible or visible results.
Everyone wants an ROI (return on investment) for their efforts. However, not every business owner appreciates that A (marketing spend) doesn’t always lead directly to B (sales). Often A leads to D (looking at your website), then to E (viewing a post on social media), then being reminded by F (email newsletter) that then finally converts to B (sales).
Research suggests that new customers need at least eight touches with a brand before they commit to buying. The amount of ‘touches’ increase depending on the value of the purchase or the buyer commitment (subscription model etc.). How and where consumers see your brand will be dependent on your marketing plans.
Review Your Spend
You need to be constantly reviewing your spending to see if it is working for your business. For example, if your goal was to drive more traffic to your website and run a print advert, and you noticed a peak in traffic to your website but no sales, that is still successful marketing. The fact they didn’t buy (which is ultimately your end goal) should be viewed alongside the website visitor’s journey. Did they spend time on your website, browse your shop or did they go to your website and immediately leave?
Looking at these metrics is just as important as making a sale to your long-term tools, strategy and spend. It is important because if you are getting traffic to your website from your efforts but no conversions to sales, there is an issue or ‘pain point’. This pain point might be the website is not very user-friendly, the end price, including the delivery cost, is too much, or delivery time scales are too long.
From this point of view, marketing is invaluable to your business. It allows you to micro analyse your business from a consumer’s perspective, not just your clouded judgement. You might have the most wonderful product ever, but if your efforts are not creating the right conversation, then you will struggle to see the value it brings.
Explore New Marketing Opportunities
In terms of cost, budgets vary wildly, depending on the business’s size, the professionals involved, and which funnels you are using. There is no golden number because every business is different, and every business’s needs are different.
However, one word of caution that we would add is that many small businesses think spending money on print magazines is costly compared to social media advertising spend. The difference (and value) that specialist magazines offer is a truly targeted audience. Whilst you can select interests and broader topics when building audiences to advertise to on social media, you will never be able to fine-tune a campaign to pick an audience like for like. And the beauty of being seen in print is the kudos and brand elevation that comes with being featured.
Consumers still trust print above social media even in today’s digital landscape, and this is something to consider when reviewing your marketing plans seriously. Whilst Facebook may promise to reach 1 million people with your ad spend and is an effective form of promotion, and the readership of a magazine maybe just a few thousand, we would argue that they are equally valuable to your marketing efforts.
The print magazine will target an audience you know would love your product because it’s absolutely relevant to them. Print magazines also offer the luxury of having a prolonged presence that people can revert to time and time again.
How Do I Know My Marketing Efforts Are Working?
When reviewing our client’s campaigns, a Dummies guide to marketing will include looking at various metrics, depending on desired goals. We look at the more comprehensive picture. Follower growth, engagement statistics and profile visits on social media are key metrics. Looking at increases in website traffic and the most popular pages with the lowest bounce rate are important to us as marketers.
Open rates on email newsletters and link clicks are also metrics we follow. These create a picture of what is happening. The client will also be looking at sales and abandoned cart rates. However, this can be due to several variables.
How Can I Use My Small Budget Effectively?
Marketing isn’t just a one-channel approach. Your business needs to consider using as many funnels to manage effectively to get the message out there. If that means you can only afford to do a handful, make sure you create a plan encompassing all three and reviewing every quarter. Take stats and log data before you elevate your marketing efforts, so you have a benchmark to compare going forward.
And don’t forget that seasonally, you may well see dips in inactivity. For example, if you are not a seasonal business, you might find summer is quieter for you. If your promotion is successful, you will see some increase compared to the same time frame window when you did no promotion. Look at the increase and pick up after your seasonally quieter periods to see if there has been a more significant lift in sales and interest.
Many small businesses make the mistake of dropping off their marketing efforts during those quieter months when actually that is the time to get in front of your potential audience before they make their buying decisions again.
QUICK FIRE MARKETING TIPS
- Invest in your marketing. It will reward you in the long term.
- Don’t be afraid to pay a professional. You could save a lot of time and money.
- Discover where your customers ‘hang out’ and invest in those areas and channels.
- It is a long-term strategy, not an immediate ‘quick-fix’.
- Set a realistic budget and stick to it.
This feature first appeared in Small Holder Magazine.