Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Marketing: Do You Tick all the Boxes?

You know that marketing is important but running your business already takes all of your time, and then some. You also vaguely know that there is much more to marketing than putting an ad in the paper, but what else you're supposed to do is a bit of a haze. Sounds right? Congratulations, you're a perfectly normal Kiwi business owner.

So what's that marketing stuff all about?


Marketing is such a rich and complicated subject that people spend years studying it. The good news is, by keeping a few rules in mind, you won't need to get a degree in order to give yourself a definite edge over the competition and ensure many years of good business.

Branding

Do you have a company name and a (good) logo? There are some very talented professionals in Hawkes Bay who can help you get the right look, that is, something that reflects what you do and who you are, be easily recognisable and remembered by your customers.
But a brand is not just a company name and a logo. Think of it as your company's personality, which must absolutely be attractive to your target customers. Is it humorous, professional, effective, fast, family oriented? Once you've done that corporate soul searching, branding means adopting a tone, image and voice that consistently projects that image. Use the same colours, stick with collateral and packaging that  reflects who you are.

Sales

Do you sell door-to-door, through telemarketing, in person or through representatives? Do you wait for people to get in touch or walk in the door?
Deciding how you sell is very important to working strategies. Once you've chosen one or several avenues of generating business, the doing will get more natural –you won't even notice.

Direct Mail

Letters, catalogues, pamphlets and email campaigns all fall under the direct mail category. They can be a way of keeping in touch with your existing customers as well as finding new ones. It only takes a few weeks for your faithful customers to start looking towards the competition if you don't remind them of why they loved ou so much in the first place. And while you're not out there getting new clients, you can be sure that your competitors are.

Collateral

Business cards, leaflets, branded pens, pdf presentations or explanatory videos are just a few of the many ways that you can use to present your business and leave a little bit of your company in people's mind (or wallet).
These must of course be absolutely consistent with your brand. Don't hand out plastic business cards if you're all about sustainable products, for example.

Advertising

Once upon a time, newspapers and posters were the only ways that businesses could advertise themselves. Nowadays advertising takes hundreds of forms: from a full colour display add in the yellow pages or local newspaper to radio, TV but also Google AdSense (see below under digital marketing), electronic billboards, TV screens in our supermarkets...
Putting an ad in the paper still works to some extend, for some businesses. Same goes with the radio. Yellow pages? –Why not. It all depends on your target: ask yourself where they are looking. If you're trying to sell to a young audience, they're more likely to see your message on their social media feed than next to the bereavement column.
One excellent way to advertise is vehicle branding. Think of it as carrying your billboard everywhere you go. Just like with logos, this type of advertising is best left to a professional, who should ensure that it is consistent with your branding.

PR

How about getting the media to talk about you without having to pay for an add? There are professionals who can help with public relations but it doesn't mean that you can't do it yourself. Let's say your company is hosting an event for a local charity: make sure your local papers know. Even better, send them an article and a picture to go with it. You may get lucky.

Digital Marketing

As soon as we stepped into the digital era, marketing got really exciting. Facebook, Google, YouTube, Twitter, Blogger, Instagram, Yahoo, Finda, Pinterest, LinkedIn... You know and use at least one of these on a regular basis if not several times a day. But do you make them work for you?
Every one of these sites (and many more besides) is an opportunity to deliver your message to the world. The best news is that most are free to use.
The best place to start is where you are. Are you an avid Facebook user? Make a page for your business and start posting. It's a good idea to get a bit of help to get you started. A professional will be able to help you with suitable content, frequency, which platforms to use (and those to avoid) whether you should pay to promote your efforts, etc. Once you've got the hang of it (and as long as you enjoy doing it) there is no reason not to continue on your own or with your staff.

Website

Websites really fall under digital marketing but are so very-very essential that they deserves a category all on their own.
The proportion of people who check a company's website before making a purchase decision has been polled to up to 92%. Not having a website nowadays is like having your shop window painted black. How many walk-ins are you likely to get? The same goes with shabby websites, of course.
As with every other marketing effort, your website must absolutely be consistent with your brand. Although professional help is advisable, it is not absolutely necessary. There are enough excellent platforms nowadays that let the layman put together very good websites (as long as you don't need advanced features). Websites used to be very expensive and still can be, but it is true that nowadays there is a good website for every budget.
Once you're online, make sure that your SEO is taken care of so that web engines like Google can actually find you. Here again, help is available if you're not sure how to go about it. I'll soon be posting about that too.

Did you tick all the boxes?

If yes, well done (liar). If not, don't despair: it's okay to tackle them one by one and ask for help on the way. Furthermore, you may decide to use all or only some of those techniques, as long as you don't make the mistake of using only one –or worse: none of them. Remember, not doing any marketing is as good as sending blank cheques to your competitors.

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