For the smallest of SMEs – let’s say those with less than five employees – marketing poses a resource problem. If this is you, then you will already be familiar with the conundrum. You need a flow of new work for your business to grow, but all of your resources are already tied up with servicing your existing customers. Time spent on marketing doesn’t directly earn you money, so how can you justify diverting time away from service provision? Furthermore, your team may not have marketing experience, which is understandable, nor have the time to invest in retraining.
The alternative is to pay an agency to do your marketing for you, but where is the money going to come from for that? Here is the quandary. Fortunately, online marketing opens up several fast and cheap marketing tactics that can be used by small businesses to good effect.
We’ll look at a simple one in this article. If you can find an hour each week to write a good business blog, have established profiles on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, and can use an email marketing automation platform, such as Mailchimp, then you can make a start on online marketing right away.
Of course, the more resources you can spare, the more impact you will make. Dabbling in marketing won’t bring in tangible results. This is why you shouldn’t discount working with an agency. You may be surprised at the level of ROI you can obtain from a personalised, managed marketing strategy.
It all starts with content. For a small business, focus on blogs first, then marketing emails. You don’t have to write War and Peace every week, just an accessible blog of between 500 and 1,000 words in length. What to write about? This depends on what your customers are interested in. There’s no point writing a blog unless you are addressing a particular need, so start by defining a reader profile. You can write this down a notepad, based on an existing customer or the general type of people you work with. Make a note of their age range, their job title, duties and challenges at work, what they look for in your service, how it helps them and what frustrates them.
This can be the basis of a simple content plan. For each of the challenges you noted, write a blog explaining what the problem is and how you address it. For each of the frustrations the customer has with businesses like yours, explain how and why you are different.
This sort of content will make people sit up and take notice, because it offers something of value.
Marketing isn’t solely about creating targeted content. You also need to let people know about it. Email marketing is an effective way to do this, but first you need some email addresses. You may already have a contact list, or you may need to start building one up gradually. This is where online marketing gets interesting, as you’ll see how all these different tactics tie in together. For instance, you can start growing your leads database through landing pages linked to a Google AdWords campaign, or you can add CTAs to your website to encourage people to sign up to your newsletter.
Once you have an email marketing list, let your subscribers know about your content. At its most basic, just send out a notice whenever you publish your blog, with a bit of teaser content to encourage people to click through. Then, use analytics to note how each lead behaves; who clicks through, who visits more than one time, and who ignores your email altogether. Based on the behaviour of each lead, you can write a different type of email that encourages them to engage in a different way. There’s plenty more we can say about email marketing, but this will have to wait for another article.
Whether or not you already have an email contact database, you can start using social media straightaway. If you haven’t done so, set up an account on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter as soon as you finish reading this article. Then use your accounts to start connecting with a few suppliers and existing customers within your industry. ‘Like’ their pages, comment on their posts, share their content. They will love you for it – and people in their network will start seeing who you are. You can then post links to your blog content on your social media platforms to draw in new traffic – and it won’t cost you a penny.
Working With An Agency
Many small businesses don’t even consider working with an agency. If you’ve read this far, we’d like you to bear with us, because a marketing partnership with a company like JDR is, in fact, far easier and far more affordable than you may think.
We understand small businesses, including the pressure on resources and the need for results. We started off small ourselves in 2004 and expanded our organisation and client base gradually, in a similar way to what you are doing. Our bread and butter clients are SMEs in all sectors employing between five and 100 people, so our services aren’t tailored to huge corporations and don’t come with a prohibitive price tag.
Our marketing solutions are designed to be affordable and achieve tangible results for small businesses. Online marketing tactics, and inbound marketing in particular, have proven to be extremely effective for small businesses. By increasing the reach of your content you can start bringing in leads and nurturing them into customers.
It’s a proven strategy that works for our customers and can work for you too. Give us a call and chat to one of our advisers about the difference online marketing can make to your business. We offer bespoke marketing support and flexible price plans that let you meet and exceed your business goals.