Most business owners understand the benefits of marketing. Yet in times of economic slowdown or budget restraints, it’s often one of the first things a company will cut back on. Suddenly marketing is perceived as a ‘nice to have’ but no longer a ‘must-have’.
But is this the right approach? In a more challenging business environment, it’s more important than ever to have effective marketing that really works. Done properly, marketing can help you to retain your existing clients – and even help you attract new ones in increasingly competitive conditions.
Don’t forget that your customers are very likely to be taking a closer look at their budgets too, and making decisions about which brands and businesses to spend their money on. It actually presents a valuable opportunity to differentiate yourself in the marketplace and create brand loyalty.
So, the best way to look at your marketing budget is how you’re spending it. Are you making the most of it, keeping value and return on investment at the forefront? Could your budget stretch even further?
The best way to get your marketing budget working smarter is to consider the 3Ws:
• What is your message?
• Who do you want it to reach?
• When should it reach them?
Your message needs to grab customers’ attention, appeal to their needs and behaviours, and make your business stand out from the crowd. Once you know what your message is, remember that every customer is different. A lot of companies will send the same blanket message out to everyone through the same traditional means – which is a very inefficient approach. You have to know your audience and identify your target market, then choose your method of communication based on that information.
It’s far more cost-effective, for instance, to do a bit of research first before sending out a huge email newsletter that will only be relevant to a small portion of your audience, or investing in a print campaign if your audience is far more likely to respond to social media.
Of course, there’s no harm in communicating with them via more than one channel. In fact, repeating your message via different channels can actually be more effective – provided it reaches them.
If you have different target groups, your message should be tailored for each group. In some cases, you can even target your message right down to the individual if you’ve collated information on your customers (via loyalty cards or past purchase history, for example).
Whenever possible, you should target your campaign or message to them as individuals, with the goal of strengthening the relationship they have with your brand.
Do you know when customers are most likely to need your product or service? Can you tie your message in to seasonal changes or holidays? Aim to get your message in front of potential clients in the lead up to them making that decision, so that you’re already at the front of their minds when the time is right. And don’t forget to follow up. Sometimes we don’t know when the time’s right; that’s why it’s important to keep getting your message out there and reminding customers that you’re just a phone call away.
Finally, use every marketing project as a learning opportunity. Use any tools available that will help you review what you’ve done – then use that knowledge in your next campaign. Put tracking methods in place to monitor the effectiveness of your communications, where possible, and to gather more information about your clients that will help you target your next campaign even more accurately.
The truth is, you can reduce your marketing spend by being more efficient, or you can continue to spend the same amount but use the budget more effectively. Either way, you should see a better return on your investment, and can help position your business to weather any economic uncertainty.
At Sixothree, we specialise in helping small and medium sized businesses identify and reach target customers effectively. If you’d like to talk about planning your marketing strategy, please feel free to ring Karen on 0161 694 9619.