I am often asked, for my business what marketing tips can you give? Of course I am quick to point out the business of marketing is just that…I am in marketing and that is my business. It is a skill and in my case is the accumulation of more than 20 years experience. However in the spirit of marketing my business I want to give some marketing tips for any business.
Top 3 tips for marketing a business:
1. Professional edge. When it comes to how you want to portray your business to your market, be professional. Seems simple, but all too often the basics are forgotten here. Being professional is everything from the way you answer the phone, respond to emails, dress, talk, present materials, your website etc. You are only as good as the way you look. It’s an old line, but it is so true, you only get one chance to make a first impression. Make sure you present professionally in keeping with your brand and your market.
For example, look at any of the big retail brands like Coles or a Harvey Norman. The staff are trained to respond to customers in a certain way. They all present themselves consistently and in keeping with the style of brand. You are not greeted at the checkout by someone in a singlet, board shorts and thongs. You don’t see the Harvey Norman brochure with one design and something different in the store or on the website. What they produce is consistent and the style is in keeping with the brand.
2. Listen. Before you do any marketing you need to know you have a market. Listen to what your target audience is saying they want and need. You need to keep listening for as long as you have a business. When you stop listening, you will find your business starts to fail. How you listen depends on your business. It could be formally in a survey or simply by talking to your audience. You might also use social media to engage with people or just hear what they are saying about you and your competition.
For example, Channel Nine is a business who as much as any business must listen to their audience. I can think of two recent occurrences where this has been significant. A couple of weeks ago they began airing the program Excess Baggage. After a short time on air they realised people were not watching. If they kept the program on their main station they would feel the impact in other programs and additionally they would lose revenue from sponsors. By putting on Big Bang Theory instead they are giving people what they want – they listened. In this case it was rating surveys primarily which gave them the information. On the flip side, they had decided not to air the World Club Challenge Rugby League live. A backlash from supporters through social media in particular led the network to airing it live and then still offering a full replay later in the day.
3. Invest. Marketing as I said in the introduction is a business. You can do it yourself, but you don’t know what you are missing by not investing in professionals. If you want to do tips 1 and 2 well, then you need someone who can give you a professional edge. As a guide I would say you should be spending 5-7% of your earnings on marketing. Of course you always need to monitor the investment and it will depend on your business and if there is any particular campaign you might need to undertake. But 5% would be a minimum. Some businesses invest much more, because they can justify it through growth, but even then it has to be measured. The difference between spending 15% and 20% for example may make no difference at all.
For example, some small business operators tell me they don’t need to advertise, all their business is word of mouth. My response to that is they are still spending on marketing. If you are a plumber and you have not invested in a uniform, a business card and a web page then people will not know how to find you and recommend you. If you are following up on your clients, then you are investing in marketing. The list goes on, but marketing is so much more than just a type of ad.
Why does a plumber need a marketing professional? It may just be for a health check, to look at what you are doing and see if there are areas for improvement.
Seeing a marketing professional is not about spending thousands and employing a big agency. While that is relevant for some, there are simple relevant solutions for any size business. Once a year you should spend at least a couple of hours with a marketing professional and some time on your own looking at what marketing you do. An annual check can make all the difference to the health of your business.