Small business has always been my passion; inspired entrepreneurs that have taken the ultimate leap of faith to realise their dream, I’ve always felt an affiliation with them, driven to help them succeed where I can see my skill having a real impact.
I recently spent an evening reading up on the latest research about small businesses, and the challenges they face when it comes to growth. The results were shocking, particularly when it comes to marketing:
- Only 48% of smaller organisations have a documented content strategy.
- 6 out of 10 very small businesses have yet to establish an online presence and get a website.
- 49% of small business owners aren’t sure if their marketing efforts are effective, and 14% know they’re not.
As an experienced marketeer, I know that marketing is the ultimate tool for business success. The trouble is that small businesses often lack the in-house skills, knowledge and experience when it comes to marketing. But if you want to hit the goals set out in your business plan, and transition your business to a medium-size enterprise, you need marketing to facilitate that growth.
Content is key
Part of a marketing communications plan will document your content strategy. It will include the key messages and positioning for your company, products and services, as well as key themes for your campaigns when you go to market. A content strategy is essential for building a strong brand, ensuring consistency and clarity across all your communications. It also boosts your competitiveness by enhancing your credentials, positioning you against your competitors and showcasing your ‘value-add’. And it details your brand personality, carving out your niche, establishing why you’re different and stating the important things that make you who you are.
Increase visibility through online presence
Like it or not, we live in a digital world where an online presence is essential. If we want to find a local business we don’t open the yellow pages any more, we do a quick search on our smartphone. If we want to research a company, we’ll check out its website. And if we’re meeting someone for the first time, chances are you’ve looked them up on LinkedIn. Your marketing strategy will state who your target market is and the best way(s) to engage them, but your communications plan will detail exactly what that looks like in terms of your online presence – for example, is your website there to serve as a business card, for education or to drive instant sales? What social media platforms are best-suited to your business – if any? By understanding the presence you need online, it’ll ensure your time, money and effort is spent in the best way to deliver the results you need.
Measure what matters
Every single marketing tactic you execute can, and should, be measured in a way that adds value to your business. If you’re not measuring the impact of your marketing, how do you know how well it’s performed? How can you calculate the return? And how do you know what to spend money on in the future? However, it’s not enough to measure something for the sake of it, it has to be meaningful. For example, if you’ve launched a new website you might want to track the number of unique visitors to establish how your brand awareness is growing, or if you’re active on Twitter you might want to measure the pull-through traffic it creates to your website to determine whether it’s an effective channel for engaging your target audience. When setting your metrics always ask yourself ‘so what?’, and question what you’ll do as a result of collecting that information (if the answer’s ‘nothing’, don’t waste your time collecting it). Your communications plan will establish the key performance indicators (KPIs) for every activity and schedule when the reviews will take place so you can analyse what is/isn’t working and tweak your campaigns accordingly.
Time to mark a change
Stop doing what you’ve always done and start using marketing as an enabler of change in your organisation to fulfil the objectives set out in your business plan. For a fixed-fee of £600 I will create your communications plan, identifying the key marketing channels, tactics, messages and KPIs that will resonate best with your intended audience and achieve your objectives.