It’s a tough time for small business owners, but while it might feel like a to do list is getting out of hand but you should always try to make time for marketing.
It will come as no surprise that small business owners have to juggle multiple roles but it’s all too easy to let low level tasks take over at the expense of more important responsibilities.
Marketing is often one of these and despite being considered a crucial sales driver, it features on the daily agenda of just 32 per cent of owners, according to recent Pitney Bowes research.
So how can SME owners make room for marketing when budgets are low and time is tight?
Ryan Higginson, at mobile marketing consultants Pitney Bowes, shares his top 10 tips for driving SME growth.
1. Master your elevator pitch
You need to be able to define what you do quickly and simply. You’ll have a matter of seconds to grab, and hold someone’s attention. It can turn a quick hello into a promising business lead.
2. Don’t discount, add value
It can be tempting to offer discounts to get customers through the door.
Try to avoid doing this because you risk being seen as cheap. Instead, add value – for example a free consultation or product trial. If they understand why, your customers will pay that bit extra for a better experience and your brand will be all the stronger for it.
3. Once a business owner, always a business owner
Every day is a marketing opportunity – don’t ever shy away from shouting about your business.
If you’re the owner of a catering firm and you’re attending a friend’s wedding at the weekend don’t be afraid to talk about your business to others. You never know who’s a potential customer.
4. Step away from the control room
If you’ve started a business, it’s easy to get a little protective and want to do everything.
Don’t be afraid to get others involved, perhaps think about hiring an apprentice or intern. After all, you don’t want to spend time ordering coffee when you could be planning your next marketing campaign.
5. Pip corporates to the post
Unlike big corporates you can be quick and agile. If you see a market opportunity you can take it, if you see a space which can be filled, you can fill it, almost there and then.
Larger businesses have chains of command and approval processes to navigate. You need to keep your business on the pulse though – read your key industry media, keep an eye on your corporate rivals and be willing to move quickly.
6. Don’t get too ‘social’ with social media
Social media is all the rage right now, but whatever tools you use, do it for a reason.
If you’re selling electronic components, Facebook might not be the best place for you. Also, it’s important to understand the basics – there are plenty of free online guides – and make sure you use analytics, it’s the only way to tell if it’s working.
7. Don’t be afraid of failure
It might be a cliché but everyone makes mistakes. If you were completely afraid of failure you wouldn’t be in the position you’re in today. Risk can bring reward, and at the very least a valuable lesson, so don’t lose that adventurous spirit.
8. Stay in your brand uniform
Think about, write down and clarify your own brand values.
You need to provide a consistent brand ‘look and feel’ to your business across all channels and every communication – from the colours you use to the tone of voice you have.
9. Get mobile
By 2014 it’s expected that mobile phones or tablets will be the most common place to access the internet.
That might not be a surprise but how many small businesses have a website that’s optimised for mobile?
10. Network non-stop
Get to know other people and share expertise with other small businesses.
If you have an accountancy background and your friend with a small business has a legal background why not trade advice?
These contacts can also keep you in check. You don’t have a boss breathing down your neck so you sometimes need someone to give objective advice and push you for results.