“Hope is not a marketing plan” – Unknown
I spotted this on the web recently and it struck me that for many small businesses where resources are tight, hope is in fact a plan that people rely on and we all know that while it’s always good to hope it can’t be guaranteed to deliver.
Each and every one of us has become involved in a business either as a founder or as an employee because it’s something we’re interested in, we’re passionate about and of course we’re knowledgeable about.
However, our customers aren’t as well informed as we are about our business and if we’re not selling a service or product that they need we need about thinking of ways to create a demand so that they choose to buy from us as opposed to either going to a competitor or not purchasing at all.
In a large company with the resources to have their own marketing person or perhaps team, there are budgets and personnel allocated to ensuring the firms offerings are brought to the attention of their target market.
With a small company however it’s a little more complex. In a smaller team there’s the likelihood that areas such as Sales, Marketing and Human Resources become part of another employee’s role as there isn’t sufficient demand to need a dedicated employee to take on the job on an ongoing basis. And as is the case in business priority tends to go with what’s happening today.
If you put all your efforts into making sales today who’s thinking about what happens next week or next month? Situations will arise that are outside of our control such as new competitors or other external forces but with the right planning you can stay focused on building your brand, reaching new customers and ultimately making more sales. But and it’s a big but, you need to be consistent!
We frequently get calls when there’s a lull in sales but at that point it’s a case of reacting as opposed to being proactive and taking control of business before a slump in sales becomes a bigger challenge than in should be.
So if you’re in a small business and need to remain visible to potential customers what can you do on an ongoing basis?
- Blogging – focus on generating quality content for your blog (which should be part of your website!) as this will outlast any budget allocated to google adwords or social media, it’s permanent information for search engines and for your customers.
- Keep your website up to date – are your product or service pages up to date? Have you added updates or adjusted prices? Are you sharing details about events you’re attending whether it’s a national trade fair or a local business network – all content for your blog but giving credibility to your website at the same time?
- If you’re in a retail premises are you updating your offerings as often as you could – windows, signage, layout, promotions, printed information such as flyers?
- Social media – if you launch on any platform expecting a flood of sales you may well end up disappointed, this is a long term strategy and whether you’re trying to reach potential customers through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin, YouTube, SnapChat or indeed any platform unless you’re a household name you are not going to amass a considerable following quickly. On any of these platforms the number of people interested in your business isn’t as important as the type of people as they have to be interested and potentially willing to buy from you (another day’s post!). Build your following slowly but steadily and don’t disappear if sales are strong, be available and consistent and even if they’re not ready to purchase now you’ll hopefully be front of mind when the time is right.
- Keep networking – at every level of business your network is crucial but try to keep involved with any trade associations or local business networks even if you’re busy enough to be taking on long hours. If you’ve built the foundations keep building on them and make sure you’re approachable whether you can meet demand or not.
- Ideally you’ll have a marketing plan but we are realistic here, our years of working with small business owners across a wide range of sectors have taught us that marketing is quite often something that happens occcasionally. If however you are interested in putting together a plan make sure to subscribe to our newsletter and keep and eye on our social media as we will be covering this in an upcoming post.
That’s just a few tips worth sharing for now, we do understand the challenge of trying to be all things to everybody but with a little organisation you can keep your business visible even when it feels like you can’t deal with any more sales and who knows, you may end up recruiting to keep up!