With this year’s pandemic, global recession and current lockdown, you might find that your business has hit more than a bit of a lull. Phones aren’t ringing off the hook like they used to and you find yourself thinking of ways to cut back on costs.
You haul out your budget and sharpen your pencil as your eyes rake over every number on that spreadsheet, trying to spot anything you can cull.
Before you get any ideas about cutting your marketing budget, we would like to give you a few strategies to add to your marketing plan to bring back those phone calls and emails.
This is the time to work smart and lean. These 5 powerful tools will stretch your budget and make your marketing plan work for you.
1. Unwrap social media marketing
You no longer need to hope and pray that clients happen upon your website. Social media is here to help you find new clients and remind your past customers about your awesome services. Depending on what your marketing plan aims to achieve, you can redirect your customers to your social media pages or your website.
Social media can do the following for your business:
- Increase likes or followers on your page – this exposes your business and content to new people
- Increase conversations and engagement with your content
- Encourage customers to create their own content – effectively becoming your brand ambassadors
- Encourage people to share your content – this exposes your brand to a bigger audience
- Set up lead generation campaigns that get people to fill out their email addresses – this is brilliant for customers who want a constant flow of lead.
The top social media platforms used by South Africans, in order of popularity:
Facebook hands down, then, to a lesser extent, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram, to name a few. All you need to do is pick one or two of these that you customers use (not necessarily the ones you are most comfortable with!) and figure out how to work them well. Look at what your competitors are doing and which posts get the most engagement. Then spend a few hours on these channels every day until you ‘get it’.
Publishing regular content on these platforms that is interesting and informative, not hard sell, can be a highly effective way of growing your business’s reach. And it won’t hurt you marketing budget.
Social media can be inexpensive to execute, but it is time consuming. Make sure you have a comprehensive marketing plan and target market. Know which markets you want to reach and what’s important to them before you start.
2. Host an Event
Hosting an online event is a great way to get your brand out there, especially during lockdown and quieter months.
You might not feel comfortable giving away tips on how you do what you do. But don’t think others won’t need you anymore after you’ve shared your expertise. Read what we wrote on the paradox of generosity, and you’ll see what we mean.
Events are a great way to expose your business to potential new clients and should definitely form part of your marketing plan. Due to lockdown and stringent social distancing measures that we don’t see going away anytime soon, we recommend that you try online platforms such as Zoom, Instagram or Facebook Live streams and Google Hangouts.
Once lockdown has ended and everything is back to normal, you could also host a MeetUp as another way to get more involved in the community. MeetUps are free gatherings that you can use to build positive relationships with clients. They also improve your visibility in the community.
Lastly, teaming up with other businesses in your field is a great way to make connections. You can host an online event with them that reaches your mutual clients. Make sure you have a dynamic speaker with interesting topics to get people excited about what you do and the thought of working with you.
3. Get your clients marketing for you
Word of mouth is still one of the most powerful tight marketing budget tools. But how do you get those mouths talking? Referrals are a great starting point and are great on a small marketing budget. If you offer fantastic services, you should find that your clients just keep on introducing you to other possible clients. If things are quiet on this front, you might need to address your customer experience and customer service:
- Check your customer experience – what is it like to be your customer? More importantly, do you know who your customers are? If you say ‘everyone who doesn’t have my product is a potential customer’ then just give yourself a smack on the back of your head. You need a marketing strategy session to identify your target markets or you’re going to waste a lot of money targeting the wrong people or mass markets
- Check your website’s usability – are people frustrated or delighted with your website? Are you losing money through your website? People want to buy from your website, but can they? These questions are foundational to your marketing strategy. You need to ask real human beings what they feel on your website and this is where usability testing is most powerful.
- Check your brand experience – is your brand consistent from the wonderful lady who makes your coffee through to your best sales rep? Your brand consistency is the golden thread that moves through your business and it dictates how you look, how you speak and how you behave. It’s pretty important and needs to be included in your marketing plan. Having a clear brand strategy might not seem important to you, but what if I told you that customers decide on you or your competitor based on brand and brand alone? If you don’t have a clear brand, how will they pick you? They will then look for the lowest price, and you don’t want that to be your business.
Is it easy to do business with you? I have a few thoughts on that… we need to make it really easy to do business with us as South African small businesses.
4. Don’t underestimate the power of email
Email marketing is one of the most powerful marketing strategy tools around as it is practically free and nearly everyone has an email address.
I recently hosted an online webinar on email marketing; if you do it right, you won’t become a spammer.
When it comes to email marketing, there are a few golden rules:
- Don’t only talk about yourself and your services
- Create lots of interesting content that you send out monthly
- Only send emails that address your customers’ needs
Everything you do should be geared towards gathering email addresses from prospects:
- Create an ebook or white paper for them to download from your website, how-to guides are great for this – and ask for their email address in exchange so that you can keep them updated with events, new products and services
- Create lead generation campaigns encouraging people from across various platforms (email, web, paid ads, banner ads, social media, etc) to fill out these forms
- Send out monthly mailers to remind your clients about events, specials and other valuable information they can benefit from. MailChimp is great for this. Test your emails on a small focus group first before bringing it up to a larger scale. If you keep your emails interesting so that your clients aren’t tempted to unsubscribe. Your contacts are gold. You want to create trust and establish yourself as a field specialist. So never, ever spam.
5. Get on Page One of Google
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is unbelievably powerful. You want to be on page one of Google. Everything you do should be geared towards this goal and your marketing plan should reflect this.
The first place to start is to sort out your website through an SEO audit and fix-up. This will give your website the best chance of turning up on Google.
Being on page one of Google will drive more traffic to your website by making you easier to find and ultimately bringing in more clients, clients who are searching for what you sell.
There are simple ways to do great things for your marketing plan without breaking the bank. So put down that pencil or red pen, grab a cup of coffee and get to work!