There must be increased optimism among small business owners in the UK as I have noticed a growth in the number of business owners looking to increase their marketing expenditure. Naturally, they want to capture additional orders. They want to benefit from their prospects also feeling upbeat and (hopefully) having a willingness to spend some money.
I have heard from small business owners who are thinking of running some (modest) marketing initiatives through the autumn. Their aim is to make people aware of their company’s continued presence in the market and encourage them to visit their website to find out more.
I call this Awareness Marketing. When done by larger companies such as Nike or Pepsi, this is often termed Brand Marketing. Awareness Marketing doesn’t work for small businesses because it can never be sustained for long enough. Think about how often you see the large companies promoting their brands, it’s constant and widespread.
Those marketing to the public (like car manufacturers, technology manufacturers and clothing outlets) spend huge sums of money to get their brand registered in the minds of potential buyers.
If you look at any market sector, the same happens. The biggest suppliers are visible to their potential prospects all the time – through articles, advertisements, promotions, media events, YouTube videos and emails. These are the companies that automatically get invited to submit quotations for supplying their products/services.
Small companies simply don’t have the cashflow or the time to embark of this sort of marketing. Telling the marketplace that you exist and can deliver a wide range of products/services isn’t going to motivate prospective buyers to take action. You’ve got to focus onto the key issues facing each prospect.
If you run a small business, the best marketing campaigns to undertake are ones that build interest in the benefits that prospects will gain when they buy your product/service. You must become very specific. In most cases, this will mean concentrating on niche markets. It also means you will need to understand each niche market in detail, knowing the pressures being faced by your prospects and how your product/service will help them.
Put yourself in the shoes of a prospect operating in the energy generation sector. His pressures include driving costs down as energy consumers are demanding more competitive prices. He is also looking at ways to exploit renewable energies and deploy more sophisticated energy management systems.
When this prospect stumbles across your Awareness Marketing initiatives, he can’t immediately tell how you might help him meet his goals for generating lower cost, greener energy. Your Awareness Marketing is likely to be pitched at a high-level and be rather generic. This is unavoidable when you are addressing a broad range of potential prospects. It doesn’t grab the attention of your energy producing prospect and he is not motivated to take any action towards buying your product/service.
Imagine now that this prospect encounters your next marketing campaign, one that is focused on energy generators. It is written using the terminology of the energy generation industry and pinpoints some specific issues being addressed by this prospect. He is interested and clicks to view your website.
On your website he sees a summary of the work you have completed for other energy generators, some testimonial quotes from your existing (satisfied) clients and some more detailed “success stories” of how you solved important issues for other energy generators.
Your website provides useful information that the prospect reads or downloads. From it, the prospect immediately sees you are a credible supplier, worthy of considering as a potential supplier to his company. He might contact you directly or sign up to receive your regular e-Zine. You have got his interest and attention.
I hope you can see which type of marketing initiative encourages your prospects to engage with you and take some action towards evaluating your products/services.
What does this mean to the small business owner?
Organising niche marketing campaigns takes much more time and effort than a generic campaign. It requires you to undertake enough research to be able to communicate to potential prospects in their “language” about their issues, provide evidence about how your products/services will help them to address these issues.
Although there isn’t room to dive into how to set up a niche marketing campaign in detail here, it should be noted that you must also know what makes you different to (and better than) your main competitors. Initially, you may find it hard to pinpoint key differentiators that enable you to stand out from your competitors. This is surprisingly common.
You will need to work on building some differentiators into your products/services. Again, this isn’t the place to get into how to do this – look at other blog entries and articles on the Sales Made Easy website for more information on developing hard-to-copy points of difference.
- Look back at your recent marketing campaigns. Did you take the easy option and produce some generic material that falls into the category of Awareness Marketing? Review the results you achieved.
- Identify the niche markets you plan to target, your main competitors in each niche and how you could claim to be different.
- Begin building your marketing plans detailing how you will communicate relevant and valuable information with prospects in each of your chosen niche markets.