Marketing Strategy for Small and Medium Size Businesses
Small and medium-sized businesses don’t have the enormous marketing budget of their bigger competitors and corporations. That’s why small and midsize companies have to be more innovative with their marketing strategy in order to compete. There are various marketing approaches such as SEO, however before deciding which approach will work best for your business you need to consider the following components of a strategy:
Situation Analysis – Where are we now
Before setting any strategy or objectives, you need to understand where you are now. This includes:
- Who is your Customer – often the most important question in marketing. Putting the customer at the heart of everything you do is the key to success.
- Competitive analysis – who is your competition? How are they positioned?
- SWOT Analysis – what are your strength, weaknesses, opportunities & threats?
- Current performance – What is your current sales and growth projection? What are the exisiting conversion benchmarks.
- Digital Audit – we run a complete digital audit of your website and brand assets to evaluate your current branding, SEO foundations, tracking and measurement as well as all existing user journeys.
- Market sizing – What is the size of the market? What is your current market share?
Objectives – Where do we want to be?
The most sucessful businesses have the end in mind. We prefer FAST objectives to SMART. We also use Objectives and Key Results or OKRs. This chunks objectives into achievable milestones that represent the path to the long term vision. From a marketing perspective, it’s about focusing on the folloing KPIs:
- Revenue targets
- Conversion targets
- Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) and Marketing Investment (ROMI)
Strategy – How do we get there?
This is where we start working on the actual strategy. If we know where we are now and where we want to get to, our thinking is focused on the best methods to get there based on your business. This includes identfying:
- Key target market – what type of customers deliver the majority of sales? Are you Business to Consumer (B2C) or Business to Business (B2B) or both? It’s important to identify the key customer segments to help determine your tone of voice.
- Value Proposition – what is your differentiated value proposition? Ie what do you offer that is better than any other competitor? It could be price, service, quality or convenience. If you don’t have a clear point of difference, you need to develop this and align it to your strengths.
- Marketing mix – Anyone will know that the fundamental foundations of marketing is the 7 Ps of marketing (initially the 4Ps). This includes:
- Price – Are you a premium or budget option? Or both?
- Place – What are your channels of distribution? Should you consider an affiliate partnerships strategy?
- Product – how is your product better than the competitors? This could extend to value added activities like content marketing.
- Promotion – the marketing activities you will be engaging it to acquire and retain customers
- People – Points of contact with personnel and customers
- Processes – the systems in place to delivered a product or service (relates to marketing automation)
- Physical evidence – what gives customer’s evidence that your company is credible (eg awards, accreditations, testimonials etc..)
- Price – Are you a premium or budget option? Or both?
Execution – Key actions that will drive progress
A strategy is useless without execution. Yet all too often businesses create a strategy which is forgotten about just a few weeks after creation. This is why the execution element is critical. Ths involves identifying the key aspects of your marketing strategy that will work for your business and chunking them into actionable, measurable tactics. This relates to our approach around objectives and key results where we look at the longer term objective and break this down into quarterly, measurable milestones.
- Search Enginer Optimisation (SEO) – Long term approach to driving website traffic by ranking for keywords through organic search
- Social – A good approach when there is low awareness about your category or when there is an emotional component to your product or service.
- Paid Search – Short term approach focused on high intent search terms to drive an immediate uplift in sales. Good approach when people are ion the mindset to buy when they are searching online.
- Email Marketing – When you have or are growing your email database you want to have processes in place to nurture and activate. Using marketing automation to achieve this will help however can take time to implement.
There are many other channels, however these are our initial key areas we focus on with clients. The key channels depends on which approach will drive people through our marketing funnel in the most efficient way.
Mapping out your marketing funnel is an essential way to understand how people are moving through this and at which stage they may get stuck. We define the stages of the funnel as follows:
This funnel system is based on building relationships with customers. We’ll go over each one of those so you’ll get a better understanding of what they mean and how you can implement them as part of your overall marketing strategy.
In order to gain traffic to your business’s website and social media pages, and in turn the products or services you offer, potential customers have to be aware of your brand. This is the first natural step in your marketing strategy, because it is important to make your brand visible to the world.
If a tree fell in the forest but no one was around to hear it, did it make a sound? That old adage applies to brand visibility. If no one knows your business exists, then you’re not truly in business yet even if your company is already registered.
Social Media Marketing
You can simply start by starting a social media presence that attracts the segment of the market that might be interested in your products or services. Backlinks will help drive traffic to your website or particular web pages, but don’t worry about gaining large volumes of traffic just yet if you’re just starting out. Just focus on getting your name out there to make people aware of your brand.
Paid Search Campaigns
Another way is to bring awareness to your brand besides social media marketing is through PPC (pay per click) campaigns. The most popular platform is Google Ads (formerly known as Google AdWords). Another popular tool for PPC campaigns is Facebook and Instagram ads, both of which are integrated since they are owned by the same company. For example, in order to sell products or launch marketing campaigns on Instagram, you have to link your Instagram account to your Facebook account.
You can even reach out to “influencers”, or popular social media and YouTube personalities, to help promote your brand. The two most popular platforms for finding and connecting with influencers are ACTIVATE and AspireIQ. Use an influencer’s social power to give your brand better visibility.
This leads us to the second step in the funnel…
Once you gain more exposure for your brand, you need to start driving interest in the products or services you offer. Gaining visibility is one thing, but keeping their attention long enough to actually visit your website or store is another challenge to overcome. This is the phase in which you should start creating promotional campaigns.
For instance, if you’re a small clothing boutique, you probably shouldn’t sell your products at high prices yet. The reason why name brands like Givenchy and Prada can charge exorbitant prices for their products is because they are exactly that, name brands. They may use the same materials that you use for your clothing products, but the difference is they have supermodels flaunting their products at catwalks in Paris, Milan and New York. That’s just the nature of the market.
So, you have to drive interest towards your brand through captivating ad campaigns online and promotions like discounts and seasonal sales. This is the phase when you should hire copywriters, graphic designers, and perhaps an expert in generating leads from new prospects to take your business to the next level. Your marketing team will help you drive interest into your business.
Don’t just set up a bunch of social media and PPC campaigns, and then set it and forget it. You have to be active throughout the process. One of the most important aspects of attracting and, just as importantly, retaining customers is engaging with people. Your marketing team should not only generate leads through engagement, but they should also convert new prospects to sales online or offline. Other aspects of engagement is encouraging loyalty and repeat sales among current customers, as well as sharing your brand with others. That’s why companies like Uber offer their users cash incentives or free ride vouchers for referring others to the service.
However, engagement doesn’t just mean trying to persuade potential customers to your website by interacting with them. Consumers nowadays are smart and can smell a promo from a mile away. You should be genuine in your engagement. Hire social media managers to interact with people commenting on your social media pages. Let your customers and potential customers know that you’re not just another faceless business trying to take their bucks.
Converting traffic into actual sales is possible the toughest part of this funnel system. Many new businesses that finally see high volumes of traffic on their website or social media pages become confused when they see only a few sales or inquiries about their services. That’s why you have to realize that visibility and traffic is only half the battle. Conversion is the ultimate goal. There’s interest towards your brand but no one is buying your products or services. What gives? Find out by conducting pricing analysis of your competitors.
Perhaps you have a cooler brand name with an eye-catching logo. Your product might even be more well-designed and of higher quality than your competitors, but they simply sell their products for cheaper prices. Another reason could be that your product or service is overabundant in the market. Whatever the case may be, the point is you should conduct research to analyze why conversion rates are low, and what you should do to fix it.
Brand advocacy is an important step in your marketing funnel system. Simply put, advocacy is a type of marketing that emphasizes getting your existing customers to talk about your company, and the services or products you offer. In an earlier example, I cited Uber’s referral method as a form of advocacy. However, advocacy marketing is more than just featuring promo campaigns through social media advertising, pop-ups and PPC campaigns. It means making sure you’re getting good reviews regarding your products and your company itself.
Google reviews in SERPs (search engine results page) are highly influential. If you’re a restaurant owner, Yelp is also influential in persuading or dissuading potential customers. Your brand’s reputation can easily increase or decrease the potential amount of new prospects. In fact, an estimated 80% of online shoppers conduct their research before buying. I know I do. When I’m unfamiliar with a company, I research their reviews first before giving them my business. Likewise with products. I’ll compare ratings, reviews and descriptions of similar products before choosing which one I think is the best for me. So, brand advocacy is a very important step in your marketing strategy.
Measurement – Direct the strategy with the right KPIs
No strategy is complete without the right controls. Measurement has to be directly tied to the business objectives in order to track effectiveness against the most important outcomes for the business.