If you are the owner or founder of an SME (Small and Medium Enterprise) or are the person responsible for sales or business development in any size organization then your reputation – your personal branding is paramount in your personal success and the success of your organization.
‘Brands are like people’ is an analogy often used to describe the companies they represent. Virgin is the brand built by Richard Branson and the two are hard to separate. Consumers buy into the personality of the founder and what it represents and promises.
In many cases however ‘brands are people’ – every celebrity is a brand, from Oprah to Dr.Phil, to rock stars and actors to sports people like Beckham.
Business brands take on or communicate the values of their founders. This is especially true for start-ups and new businesses, professional services firms where the names of the founding partners make up the brand names. Although this is not the best way to brand your services business this is still the dominant reality for many.
So the brands are designed and communicated by people. People, especially in services industry is who we all buy from! So it makes sense that ‘these people’ have an optimal representation of who they are and what makes them special in the place where it matters most, the place where positive perceptions are formed – online!
Your online identity and representation is made of your online assets:
- Blog / Website
- YouTube Channel, etc
The most important of these in the SME (B2B & Professional Services) is LinkedIn, and we’ll cover this next.
The web allows ‘small business Davids’ to compete with corporate Goliaths.
Your website is the most flexible and accountable content marketing weapon today. Usually the first thing that your prospects see and experience about your business, it is your most public face to the world, a showroom open every hour of every day.
- The investment into your website is 100% measurable and hence accountable.
- Your website is an interactive medium and a distribution channel that allows 1 : 1 personalization
In the case of a recession the use of the internet by consumers will only be accelerated as they will spend more time at home. So remove the cobwebs from your website today!
Internet Advertising is still very underutilized.
A typical US consumer might spend 25% of their media consumption time on the Internet but a typical US advertiser spends only 7% of their communications budget on the web.
Web technology is more accessible than ever: Low Cost and Easy to Use, if you choose to DIY in-house and cheaper than ever to be outsourced to a third party web marketing agency. But be careful who you choose!
Design, Build, Promote, and Maintain to maximize results and make your website work as hard as you do to:
- Provide visitors with a taste of your product or service
- Tell visitors why they should buy from you and not your competitors
- Collect information about your customers
- Customize customer experience
- Improve customer service and provide a vehicle for feedback
- Generate sales leads
While marketing tactics deal with needing Original Ideas & More Creative Execution, more importantly, you need to SHARE!
- 12 Half Page Print Ads are more effective than 6 Full Page Ads
- One Colour, called spot colour can be used instead of Full Colour to decrease the cost without effecting effectiveness if the design is used creatively to compensate for this.
- Use 30 Second Radio Ad v 60 Second Radio Ad
- Decrease the Direct Mail List Size and follow them up with Telemarketing or
- Share the cost of Direct Marketing – Printing, Mailing and Distribution with a complimentary Product / Service.
- You can share the cost of traditional advertising like print by coming up with a creative advertisement that promotes 2 complimentary products in one advertisement and generates synergy between the products to the benefits of both.
- The same concept can also be taken online by sharing Pay Per Click bid costs and the costs of the Landing Pages.
Start thinking and sharing.
The “birth of a brand” is achieved with publicity, not advertising. A new brand must be capable of generating favorable publicity in the media or it will not have a chance in the marketplace. It’s a window into your brand identity.
PR automatically generates greater credibility through “unbiased editorial” rather than a “paid” message.
The ultimate cost effective guerrilla marketing tool, PR can give ‘David’ brand positioning advantages over the larger and better-funded Goliath!
Successful and correctly implemented Public Relations campaign can deliver:
- Greater visibility and exposure than traditional / paid advertising
- Greater frequency levels than traditional / paid advertising
at a fraction of the cost of traditional advertising.
Marketing tactics dealing with the importance of frequency is demonstrated below:
1. The first time a man looks at an advertisement, he does not see it.
2. The second time, he does not notice it.
3. The third time, he is conscious of its existence.
4. The fourth time, he faintly remembers having seen it before.
5. The fifth time, he reads it.
6. The sixth time, he turns up his nose at it.
7. The seventh time, he reads it through and says, “Oh brother!”
8. The eighth time, he says, “Here’s that confounded thing again!”
9. The ninth time, he wonders if it amounts to anything.
10. The tenth time, he asks his neighbor if he has tried it.
11. The eleventh time, he wonders how the advertiser makes it pay.
12. The twelfth time, he thinks it must be a good thing.
13. The thirteenth time, he thinks perhaps it might be worth something.
14. The fourteenth time, he remembers wanting such a thing a long time.
15. The fifteenth time, he is tantalized because he cannot afford to buy it.
16. The sixteenth time, he thinks he will buy it some day.
17. The seventeenth time, he makes a memorandum to buy it.
18. The eighteenth time, he swears at his poverty.
19. The nineteenth time, he counts his money carefully.
20. The twentieth time he sees the ad, he buys what it is offering.”
Thomas Smith of London wrote this back in 1885 when the Newspaper was the only medium!
Today the estimates are that the average consumer is exposed to between 500 to 5000 brand messages per day. Estimates vary depending who you believe, but regardless of the actual number these figures illustrate that more than ever that ONE exposure is hardly ever enough, especially when it comes to “disruptive” or uninvited media communications.
WHERE ARE YOU SAYING IT?
Where are you communicating with your customers and prospects? Where can you reach them most cost effectively? What are they reading, listening to and watching?
You need to invest wisely and and measure your results by capturing responses to as many of your communication initiatives as possible.
Here are a few rules of thumb for your marketing tactics:
- Budget (Marketing as a rule of thumb is 10% of Sales)
- Media or cost of reaching the customer is about 75% of the Total Marketing Budget
- Reach (most small businesses try to talk with too many prospects / customers)
- Frequency (most small businesses do not repeat their message frequently enough) 100 customer x 10 times is better than 1,000 customers x 1
- Continuity is important (most small businesses do not pursue the dialog for long enough! Rather than appear in 3 editions of the magazine or newspaper with a Full Page advertisement choose to appear in 6 editions with a half page advertisement. The same applies to digital media)
- Media should drive the messageE.g.. Do not make the mistake of producing 5,000 Brochures, first and then ask how will you get them into the hands of your customers and prospects!
- Just because you can get a great deal from the media (of any type) it doesn’t mean it is right for your business. Here are just a few examples of a lack of media planning:
- Why is 2 Office Medical Centre on TV? Especially when there was no point of difference or area of specialty mentioned during the ads.
- Why is a “general brand ad” for a Shopping Center on Radio? Again, as the advertisement on the radio would have reached the entire metropolitan area, this shopping center gave no reason why someone other than those in the immediate geographic catchment would bother getting in their cars and traveling substantial distances.
- Why is a large B2B industrial company on Radio? Have they exhausted all other possibilities? I doubt it. Online Marketing, Social Media, Direct Mail, and the list goes on.
These media choices may have all seemed like great ideas to these small and sometimes large business owners, but that doesn’t make them right. These media choices may have been affordable but were still wrong!
In the 3 examples above each of these businesses has a very specific target market. This specificity is due to either their geographic location or their niche B2B Audience.
Their ‘mass media’ choice will not only produce massive amounts of wastage but is unlikely to deliver the best marketing return on their investment.