Stella Broster, one of the talented mentors featured on our Experts in Residence programme has kindly written this guest blog on Marketing Strategy for the project leader of a great local business networking group (part of the Bearwood Community Hub).
Why is marketing important now?
Put simply, to confirm that you are still in business. Many people may assume that the challenging conditions of the last 12 months have laid waste to your organisation, particularly if you are a small business or charity.
Did you know that almost 15% of UK businesses are now at risk of permanently closing (read more here)? In addition, we have already lost high-profile organisations such as Debenhams, Brighthouse, Carphone Warehouse, Chiquito and Flybe, and John Lewis recently announced it is planning more store closures.
Also, generally, consumers learn about local businesses online more than anywhere else. So if you rely on neighbourhood customers, you need to have useful and up-to-date information readily available for potential clients.
I believe that marketing - specifically calm, confident communication- is the key to gaining new customers, keeping your existing ones and, if necessary, rebuilding your business as the country steadily comes out of the latest lockdown.
Furthermore, it’s always important to explain how your organisation benefits others. In other words, yes - we all need to talk more about what we do. But right now, it is vital to explain how what you are doing is helping others.
It’s not just “this is what I do” but “this is how I help”.
Marketing is essential to building relationships – and it has been impossible to do this like we used to, using face-to-face formal meetings and casual catch-ups over coffee. You can however engage with people on social media on a daily basis, attend regular online networking meetings, and use occasional automated emails to give your contacts personalised, helpful content.
I feel that sharing your ideas, news and stories opens the door for others to engage and feel more connected to you.
Where should you start? By creating a marketing plan
Begin with your story. Who are you? What is your mission? Which three values would you like customers to associate with your organisation?
Then think about your products and/or services and, more importantly, about the features and benefits of each. What is unique, special and interesting? How do they help or make life better?
Many busy business owners don’t feel they have the time to plan, but it’s a good idea to list your business objectives. What do you want to do? Grow your sales? Generate new customers? Promote your products or services? Physically writing this down will bring clarity and help you to focus.
I would then suggest setting your marketing goals. How are you going to achieve your business objectives? Do you need to generate new leads? Build your brand? Increase awareness of the features and benefits of what you offer?
When you have done all of this, then you can look at your marketing strategy and key actions.
There is no silver bullet
At this stage I feel I need to confirm, there is no magic universal marketing strategy. There is no silver bullet which will revolutionise your business and send your sales into the stratosphere. If there was, I would have patented it, and would now be lying on a beach in Sardinia.
The goal of marketing is simply to connect your products and services to the right audience. And that can take a great deal of relentless hard work and marketing activity.
Now that I’ve depressed you – what do you need to consider when coming up with your marketing strategy?
Who is your audience?
- Who are your trying to reach?
- Why do they buy from you?
- What motivates them?
How will you reach them?
- Where are they?
- What are they interested in?
What is your USP?
- What do you do better than anyone on else in your field?
- Why should someone buy from you?
What resources do you have?
- Team members?
- Website, social media platforms, premises, etc?
And finally, which key marketing actions are you going to use?
When you have considered these elements, you can combine them all into a statement which encapsulates your marketing strategy.
Here are a few examples of Marketing Strategies recently created by my mentoring clients:
Jewellery and Home Accessories Business
- To reach women aged 30 and upwards, who want bespoke Jewellery, giftware and houseware. To provide exceptional customer service and create outstanding, custom-made, unique items of Jewellery. To initially use the website, social media and email marketing to cost-effectively build the brand, increase awareness and engagement, and generate leads
- To target women of all ages who desire high quality, professional and reliable beauty treatments. To promote the wide range of high-spec treatments delivered by a friendly therapist with years of experience. To showcase the features and benefits of these treatments. To use a mixture of social media, email marketing and the website to generate a regular flow of high grade leads.
Label and Nameplate Manufacturers
- To reach medium-sized organisations in our target markets who need high quality, high performance labels and nameplates. To provide exceptional customer service and create superior, bespoke products which exceed the clients’ requirements. To showcase our experience and the huge variety of specialist products we produce. To use social media, the website and email marketing to cost-effectively build the brand, increase awareness and engagement, and generate leads.
When you have created your marketing strategy statement, share it with anyone in your circle who is involved or interested in the success and growth of your business.
In my next blog post I will explain how to turn strategy into action.
I hope the above information is useful. I am very happy to answer questions and offer advice.
Marketing Consultant & Mentor