I have lost track of the number of companies that we have met over the years that tell us that “they have tried marketing but it doesn’t work for their type of business”. My answer is always that marketing works for everyone, irrespective of what the company does, and if they have tried it and it hasn’t worked, then that is because they are doing something wrong!
I discussed this a bit with a client today – a fairly typical SME client, where the person that we deal with is the boss and, in this case, the owner. His view is that the majority of smaller companies have existed for however long with the owner/boss building the business from scratch, and until the financial crisis struck, that was pretty easy to do. Nowadays, however, the market is much more competitive, and in order to remain successful, those same owners/bosses are having to do more than rely on word of mouth in order to keep going; the problem is that having built the business in the first place, they do not believe that they will need any help with ‘proper’ marketing, and try to do it themselves… with the end result that the whole thing fails.
I think that that is a fairly accurate assessment, but would add a few other thoughts; one is that everyone thinks that they can do it, irrespective of their own training, secondly that there are no real ‘rules ‘ – well there are, but you don’t go to prison or get a fine if you break them – and third that, sometimes, marketing activities can seem like quite a lot of fun compared to a company’s regular day to day activities, and everyone wants to get involved. Plus, of course, you have to spend money! And if you are going to spend money, and it is your company, then you want to be involved in how it is being spent!
So if you are planning to embark on a marketing campaign, and want to do it yourself, let me give you a few pointers as a starter:
· Little and often is much more effective than one big bang!
· Prepare a plan that ensures that you have some activity on a regular basis – even if it is just attending a networking event, or organizing a business lunch – depending on time and budget, you want to be aiming for something to happen as often as possible – rather than everything to happen once!
· Know who you are targeting with your marketing – don’t advertise in a magazine/online portal because they are offering you a fantastic deal or it belongs to your best friend – advertise in a magazine/online portal because it is read by all of your target clients!
· Know what you want to achieve from your marketing – as I said in the article about PR, if the reason for promoting yourself is something other than sales, then make sure that what you are planning meets with that end result
· Remember that marketing will only get people to your door; what happens when they go through the door is down to you! All the marketing in the world will fail if your telephone is answered rudely, emails are never answered, staff are late to meet with the client, etc. Plus, of course, if your pricing is wrong, you will never sell.
· Networking – ah, now, that is an article in its own right.
There is a lot more to say, but hopefully this is enough as a start. More will follow!