If you think marketing is just about spending money then think again. Many SME businesses are leaking money and profit and some of those leaks could be plugged by better marketing, and in doing so saving or making far more money than the activity itself costs.
So here are some typical ‘gaps’ and how to successfully stop those leaks:
1 Poor initial experience
When you have put so much effort into winning a new customer, it is surprising how many times there is a lack of effort put into the initial or early customer experience. If your marketing is only about winning the sale, you are missing some very expensive tricks.
Have a look at your business and how customers move from initial sale into service. Is there a handover from one team to another? Do you bother to find out how their experience has been? Do you give them added support and customer care at the early stages?
2 Repeating poor performing marketing
Complacency can hit your marketing where you just keep repeating the same activities or let them roll over from one year to the next. This is particularly common with things like directory entries, annual ad placements and PPC campaigns. Make sure you take the time to regularly review your activities and then have the courage to stop what isn’t working and either change the way you do it or try something else.
3 Understanding how people buy
Do you know how people buy your type of product and service? The more complex your product or service the longer and more involved that process may be; consisting of research, evaluation, shortlisting before the final decision.
If your prospect uses the internet to do their initial research yet your website can’t be found for that search term, you have a missed opportunity. If you know you will be asked to tender for a project but you have no effective way of pulling together the tender information required, you will have missed an opportunity. By understanding the sales process you can make sure you don’t have any gaps that could cost you that sale.
4 Not letting your customers know everything you do
This has happened to most businesses at some time and it is really galling. You find out, too late, that an existing customer has gone elsewhere for a service or product that you supply. This is made worse when the reason is not because they preferred the other supplier, but that they just didn’t know you provided it.
This is one of the most common gaps and you are to blame for not making them aware of the full range of services you offer. And just because the information as included in your initial proposal and is on your website, don’t assume your customers know. You need to be putting the information in front of your customers regularly and in different ways.
How can you get your customers to visit your website for example? What about blogs or news that you email to them but that is hosted on your website? Don’t be afraid to proactively target customers with details of other products or services (make sure they are relevant though so as not to look like you are spamming).
5 Being reactive rather than proactive
If you only start thinking about marketing when you are at a slow period and need the business you are giving yourself a high mountain to climb. Many SME businesses suffer from the feast or famine scenario and when busy don’t have the time to focus on marketing.
This is where you need to plan your activities and make sure there is more consistent activity and that you plan for the lean times.
6 Being too slow to respond
The digital age is making us all increasingly inpatient and we expect immediate responses whether that is email replies, social media exchanges or responses to quote requests. Usually people are reviewing a number of suppliers and the speed and professionalism of your quote or proposal could make all the difference to your success.
Make sure you spend time looking at creating high quality quote materials and supporting documentation that allow you to be fast and slick. Increasingly online quoting tools such as www.proposify.biz are making this even easier.
If you have social media accounts make sure you us phone apps etc so you can constantly monitor and respond to queries and questions.
7 Not backing up your claims
Buyers are constantly looking for advice, reassurance and recommendations about the products or services they buy. If you can’t provide this substantiation or credibility then they may go to your competitor who does.
Whatever your business you will have information that will help prove your claims, you just need to bring this into your marketing. Think about what you have in terms of accreditations, customer testimonials, reviews and case studies and make sure they are prominent on your website, sales materials and marketing literature.
8 Low impact marketing
Certain media channels need to have a level of activity in order to be effective. Low level or sporadic activity is not worth the spend and you would be better investing your marketing money elsewhere.
So of you can only afford to do one small ad in a trade magazine, unless it is very cleverly placed next to a relevant editorial feature, then it probably isn’t worth the money.
If you can only afford a very short, low level radio campaign and no other marketing activity in support, again it is probably not worth doing.
9 Poor web presence
Even if you don’t get direct sales from your website, the web is very much the ‘go to’ place that potential customers will go to find out about your business or check you out. If your website doesn’t do your business justice you could lose them however impressive the marketing has been to get them to that point.
Web trends and advancements mean that you need a constant investment in your website not only content but also the design and functionality. Make sure you have the budget to keep investing in your website and making sure it is as good as it can be.
10 Lack of synergy and consistency throughout your business
Stop thinking about marketing as just being the front line stuff. It should touch every part of your business and missing them are missed opportunities.
What assets do you have in your business that would benefit from branding and marketing messages? Simple things like email footers can be very effective as can livery of vehicles, uniforms and building signage.
So when you are looking at your marketing activities, maybe spend a little time to see if your business is suffering from any of these profit-leaking gaps and see how you could make some changes that will save money for your business.