Small business marketing – what are the options?
When the draws are made in the FA Cup, a strange thing occurs. Instead of wanting similar sized opponents, the minnows want to be drawn against the big teams. The attractions are obvious – gate receipts, a chance to play on hallowed turf against superstars, the slim chance of a moment of glory. Few expect the underdogs to do more than put up a brave fight, yet they often do, surprising the press and the pundits and delighting their fans. Even in the face of the big money, it is possible to compete.
Just like the lower league clubs, small businesses have to fight extra hard to get products or services visible. You don’t have a huge marketing budget. Often, you don’t have the advantage of a known and respected brand. Your strengths are focused in technology and product development, or in your consultancy services with knowledge and experience of key sectors. However your strengths are not necessarily an ability to sell yourself and increase your clout in the market. You may have a superior offering, a product that’s a better buy, a service that’s more responsive, but getting noticed is tricky – and unlike football, there’s no FA Cup competition to give your team the chance to shine.
How do I take on the big guys?
The answer, of course, is to make all marketing activities appropriate and effective – however big the opponent. Think David and Goliath. In a hand-to-hand fight, David wouldn’t have stood a chance, but he was an expert with the slingshot. His attack wasn’t based on force but on pinpoint accuracy, and we’re pretty sure it didn’t involve a hefty budget.
For all growing businesses there comes a point where promoting your products and services becomes critical. It’s no longer enough for you to rely on word of mouth, on repeat business, on the limited marketing expertise of staff with other roles. The business recognises that marketing is a specialised area but has a limited budget. So you employ a marketing junior on a £20k salary and sit back looking forward to the sales rolling in.
Except they don’t roll in. Meanwhile, your competitors are nibbling away at your customer base, eroding your market share, and continuing to grow. The junior simply didn’t have the experience, guidance or sense of urgency the situation required. They were taking action, but the actions didn’t hit the mark.
How do WE take on the big guys?
Outsourcing marketing support is a flexible and affordable strategy. For less spend than employing a marketing junior, it’s possible to access decades of experience, up-to-the-minute knowledge and responsiveness. A marketing agency can provide a full range of skills, from web design, social media and PR, through to branding and event support. The right agency can get to the core of a business, understand its ethos and vision and communicate that to the targeted audience, at exactly the right moment. The best agencies can, and will, get stuck in and become part of the team.
To be on the winning side it’s not always about the money, or about being the Goliath corporation. It’s about smart and timely strategies, it’s about teamwork, and above all it’s about being effective. It’s not the numbers of shots at goal that determine the result – it’s the ones that hit the back of the net.
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