We asked a marketing professional, who also owns her own business, about the most important things SMEs should do to market their business. These are her insights.
Who are you selling to?
“The first thing you need to know is who are you trying to sell to – who is your target?” said Belinda Bow, founder and director of Green Chilli Marketing.
“I know the phrase ‘target market’ is bandied around like nobody’s business, but the reason for that is if you don’t know who you’re trying to sell to, how are you going to know how to find them, and what are you going to say when you do?
“Once you have that in place, you can say, ‘Where are these buyers hanging out?’ and really profile them.”
Reaching would-be customers
“The other thing you can look at is identifying how to create as many touch points as possible, to really reach those people and to get them looking at your brand and being ready to buy,” said Ms Bow.
“When a lot of people look at marketing, they say, ‘I just want to get the brand out there’, and that’s all well and good, and that’s a brand-building exercise, but if you’re still not attracting the right person, who will be primed and ready to buy, it’s quite futile.
“If it’s a working mum that has kids she has to pick up from school of an afternoon, you can … look at putting something on the radio, develop something on Facebook, and if they are a professional person as well, perhaps put something on LinkedIn. And then via schools: are there newsletters?”
Digital marketing is crucial…
“Digital marketing is so important, and it’s a really big part of developing any business,” Ms Bow said.
“The reason for that is that everybody is online – they’re looking at tablets, they’re looking at phones, they’re on social media, they’re looking at websites, they’re on Instagram and all that sort of stuff.”
…but don’t forget about offline marketing
According to Ms Bow, it’s important not to forget the offline world, because we are people, not robots.
“We also live in the real world, so that’s where creating touch points that perhaps are a softer approach really marries together to build that bigger brand,” she noted.
“If you’re trying to reach a community, say [you are] a dentist in a particular area, you can look at going to sporting groups where you can get your name and your business profile out to a particular community. If you’re [only] on social media, it might be more difficult to reach them solely on that platform.”
Be honest and engaging
“I always suggest, particularly with small business, that you want to ground it with something, not just say, ‘Here’s a new product’ or ‘Sell, sell, sell’, because that can become really inauthentic,” said Ms Bow.
“I actually think the best way for any small business to make changes is to talk about the fact that [they are] listening [to their customers].
“So what happens with a small business is they choose to perhaps stock a new product, or if they want to change their service or whatever it might be, what I encourage them to do is to say ‘why’ – ‘Why are we doing that?’. And often it’s because your clients were asking for it, they really wanted this, you heard them say this, and this is why.”
She added: “That way they can use that in a marketing campaign to really say, ‘Why do we need those changes? Well, we’re listening to our clients, and they said they wanted product X or service X, so we’ve decided to bring this in to really make sure we’re giving our clients what they want.’ What that then does is the clients feel heard and they think, ‘Wow, that business really listened to me and now they’ve got it on board’.”