I seek them here, I seek them there, SMEs seek them everywhere, but truly where are the results SMEs deserve when investing valuable cash and time into their business strategy?……Here's my experience and story of what drove me to launch Value In Marketing, an exclusive service offered to SMEs in need of expert marketing, sales and PR services
Having spent my whole 'employed' life working for large marketing consultancies I’ve had the pleasure in working with many different types of businesses of different sizes all looking for marketing, sales and PR direction to improve their sales, grow their business and ultimately improve profitability. During my time working for these frankly ‘overpriced' marketing firms I begun to realize there were very few professional consultancies offering Sales, Marketing & PR services at an affordable and flexible price WITHOUT compromising on service quality and results thus the foundation of VIM, specifically and exclusively servicing the SME market.
As previously mentioned during my lengthy service to marketing I have met with many companies in search of the ‘perfect solution'. Most believe that they can spend their way out of trouble. The answer in short is NO, good marketing requires good planning.
Here are my top VALUE tips paving the road to successful marketing campaigns minus the huge expense.
Value in Social Media
Alas, I am the millionth ‘expert' telling SMEs to open a Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin account, I bring this information and ask that it is the last time you see this advice without following it religiously. Many SMEs already have a Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin account (plus the others youtube, pintrest etc) BUT I would advise any SME to be consistent with their style, always aim to have an instantly recognisable hashtag or word you use for example our brand uses the word ‘value' to start, middle or end many of our tweets and other feeds, use the same tone of language this often helps if you have one person designated to updating.. Tap into other Twitter users & followers by retweeting (easy to do) respond to Tweets using the @ sign. Name the sky as the limit- tweet No10 or the White House if you wish. Be mindful of which product you are offering and ensure to compliment with possible business link followers. Be wary of subscribing to an ad campaign without expert guidance on Twitter, Facebook or Linkedin some can yield unpleasant and useless likes, followers or contacts. Invest a little extra and hire an agency such as VIM to run the campaigns for you
Value in Brand guidelines and consistency
Ideally I advise that you never ride on the branding rollercoaster (but I guess if you haven't you would be far rarer than those that have), I’ve seen companies change brands like clothing one day blue, one day yellow and the next all of the colours of the rainbow, followed by one name and strapline and the following month changing the companies pledge to be something completely away from what they had originally set out to do… sigh it's pointless in suiting your brand scheme to what you think the specific audience may like. Sure it’s important that people like and understand what you do, but do you change the colour scheme, house name, road or country of your house simply to please the individual who may pay you a visit? Confusing right? How would you ever find your house again? Think of your brand in this way. NEVER rush your brand or strapline this says a lot about your company, its vision and what you stand for. Unfortunately poor branding can say very little aside from your not serious! Think Think and Think again, value others critique before deciding on a logo, seek professional help such as VIM for ideas.
Value in integrated marketing
This is the hardest case to deal with, when clients will say ‘I’ve placed an ad in the local paper and haven't had any response, I've tried everything and my marketing isn't working………… I understand and appreciate how tough and daunting marketing can be for those who are yet to venture into ‘my’ world, after all you won’t catch me getting stuck into flying planes, building trains or cutting the latest hairdo. BUT if there is one piece of advice I ask that you take away with you today (well another one) whenever your deciding on a marketing campaign NEVER spend all of your financial resources on one campaign or using one medium of promotion, for example: you have been tempted by a print ad campaign offered at an excellent rate with LOADS of extras. However, this particular campaign comes into the top range of your budget (BUT it’s a great deal) BUT you’ll have NOTHING left to leverage future marketing opportunities. Consider hitting the clubs or restaurants togged up in the very best killer shoes but wearing a bed sheet to dress (hardly the impact you intended) always remember spread your budget across multiple platforms include print (I’m still a strong believer in traditional campaigns) never go for the most ‘eyeballs’ your money can buy but agree the best deal for a mix across a period of time. Research after research shows that consumers need a few appearances to feel confident in using your services.
Value in databases and contacts
YES that little black book does still count, (although I’m hoping digitised) these really are opportunities waiting to be unlocked. Use your contacts, build on your contacts and VALUE your contacts. There are many ways you can build a database often it can be hugely beneficial to outsource a company with expertise in this area such as VIM particularly if you are not a ‘natural’ sales person. Once you have this database use the contacts to build more send out e-blasts encouraging the recipients to like your social media sites, take advantage of your offers or find out more about your company.
Media & PR releases
SHOUT IT FROM THE ROOF TOPS, after all this very business was great enough for you to leave an employer and navigate it from a dream into a reality. Reach for the stars, script multiple press releases send them to journalists local and national. Who knows what the journalists are looking for? Unsure if you have any news? Well make some (so long as it’s legal and good natured) why not sculpt your logo or company name out of bananas or sweets? Giveaway 100 unusual items (no need to be expensive) need I say VIM can assist you with some interesting concepts and navigate you to success.
In summary never underestimate the power of GOOD marketing, sales and PR, never compromise on quality even when faced with a limited budget. Contact me for some direct ideas and solutions that will help you build a more successful & profitable brand.
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