In a downturn, it isn’t just small businesses that look to make their pennies stretch further or spend more time investing time resources into ‘free’ marketing opportunities but they certainly have a greater opportunity to do such things. If trade is down and money is tight, things might look bleak and the marketing resources cupboard somewhat bare.
One way that you may choose to keep on top of your marketing activities, even if the budget has run out, is to try out something that requires little or no money (beyond buying a computer and internet connection). Social Networking or online media resources are a great way to make use of your time in an inexpensive manner in order to drum up trade and to make sure your business is ‘out there.’
If you are unfortunate enough to have less footfall than you are accustomed to in headier times, you may be in a position to spend more time on Twitter, Facebook and any of the hundreds of online community sites where you can promote, network, converse or establish your brand and make real connections. If you do this well you may see that trade picks up again and so you have less time to commit to online activities as you are dealing with fantastic customers making purchases. When trade does pick up once again, does online marketing through social networking have to give?
I believe in the cliché that tough times make us stronger but beyond that I anticipate that this recession has rewritten the rules of small business marketing and the online marketing model of the future will see social networking as a standard practice in advertising for small firms. When the tills are ringing again and the ‘R’ word is but a distant memory, try and set aside short and frequent bursts of online marketing activity, be it Twitter, Blogging or Facebook, for great results long-term.
In his article 'Why 8% of sales people get 80% of the sales' Donut expert and founder of Marketing Wizdom, Robert Clay reminds us of the importance of good 'follow up'. His research shows that only 2% of sales occur at the first meeting; the other 98% will only happen once a certain level of trust has been established. Incredibly, only 20% of sales leads are ever followed up - that's a shining pile of potential opportunity lost without a trace. For small businesses, what is the best way to keep contact with prospects after sales meetings? What communications strategy can you employ to show customers that your proposed approach is the right one for them? Effective follow up does not mean pushy closing and constant demands for orders or appointments. It's a different mindset: an ongoing dialogue; gently building rapport and proving your expertise, not bashing down doors. At the heart of this approach is good content - meaningful, useful communication that helps to build trust in the eyes of your potential customers, keeping you top-of-mind. Here are 5 examples of useful content you can send to prospects when following up sales meetings:
This is where marketing can really help sales. Produce powerful, customer-focused, helpful content that your sales teams can use to keep contact with customers until they are ready to buy.
I’ve spent the week at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival Like many delegates this year, I wasn’t there to party or pick up an award, but to learn about how marketing is evolving and how brands of all size need to adapt in today’s fast changing and fragile economy. An impressive list of media, agencies and brands were there to spread words of wisdom through more than 50 seminars, workshops and masterclasses. Here are my top line takeaways from Cannes 2009 – of importance not just to big brands, but all the millions of small businesses out there, too. Digital creativity: Without doubt the key theme running throughout the week was the rising importance of digital as the primary means of engaging consumers. There was general agreement that the recession had accelerated migration of spend to digital, as consumers seek value when making purchases. It seemed clear that traditional advertising is unlikely to return to the heady heights of 2007. This is partly because consumers can no longer be talked at, interrupted, annoyed or even tricked into watching adverts – including banner ads online and heavily-branded websites. Central to digital creativity is the need to think less in terms of linear campaign planning and more as an ongoing ‘on-demand’ marketing strategy, reacting to consumers’ conversations in real-time. Small businesses are some of the most prolific users of Twitter, suggesting that they may well be ahead of the curve on this trend. Brands as publishers: In his book, Here Comes Everybody, Clay Shirky claims that content is not king, but conversation is. Consumers are absolutely leading this trend through their own social media and networks, requiring brands to follow. There was a key message running through the week that brands must build useful content in order to be part of consumers’ conversations in their own habitats. iPhone applications have become highly successful for this very reason – they provide some form of utility to consumers’ daily lives. In such an environment, the brand is becoming a publisher. Video, audio, social tools like blogs or widgets, images and, of course, text are all key tools in the information era. Because production is cheap and accessible, small companies can use these tools as profitably as large businesses. Embracing the cloud: If content creation is on the rise, where will it all live? A number of speakers pointed to the ‘cloud’ - key areas on the web where content lives and consumers hang out. YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, FlickR – they are all cloud-based services, so the chances are your business is already in the cloud to some extent. But the rise of the ‘social web’ is making these platforms more and more important, not just as a place to share content but to communicate. Businesses of all sizes have a chance to participate in this cloud ecosystem. Arguably, smaller brands have a bigger chance of success since building a small following may be easier than the masses larger brands will need to reach. The future is undeniably going to be digital for brands across the board. As 2009 unfolds, budgets may continue to shrink, but in this digital landscape, the ‘long tail’ of businesses stand a greater chance of flourishing. There they have a much richer set of tools and opportunities to market their brands. Perhaps that is worth celebrating.
No one knows when it might happen again but one thing is certain, the first Twitter Conference hosted by Marketing Donut, under the #mydonut hashtag, was a fantastic event and great success on many levels. On Tuesday, 30 June at 0930 GMT the event kicked off with a flurry of activity. Overall it could be said that the conference was a piece of organised chaos where ideas were exchanged, views were shared and conversations were had. The event was organised with help from Twitter for business expert – Mark Shaw – who shares the Marketing Donut goal of helping small businesses get the best from their marketing activities. Early estimates made by expert Twitter analyser, Andrew Fielden, indicate that the conference saw over 1,800 tweets exchanged in the 90 minute marathon session. Andrew said: “Wow, it was manic wasn't it and just goes to show how popular something like that can be. Well done to you guys for the effort being put in.” The biggest result, in Twitter terms, was the 4th place positioning in the trending topics chart for a sustained period of time. The best part of the conference was the real reach that the event had and saw small business owners exchanging ideas, questions and views in one place with experts. As you can imagine, Marketing Donut site traffic was on the up and the overall reach of Twitter users who could have seen any one of the tweets was 67,562. The range of topics covered was vast and we hope that it was a gainful experience for all involved – as a trial event we did not know what might happen; but there is a definite working idea, which can be adapted for another time, in order to help small businesses maximise their marketing activity, and to get them connected with experts in one place for free! Thank you to everyone who took part. A selection of tweets by experts, small businesses and the Marketing Donut during the event:
yBCmels RT @simon_editor: Phew! Thanks for you question and comments, everyone. Good event! #mydonut// Solid effort! Tuesday 30th of June 2009 Signposter Great conference #mydonut people. Have a fantastic time. Now back to work ;-( Tuesday 30th of June 2009 MarkPocock Are you building your list on your web site? No, don't offer your damn newsletter.Offer something of value. #mydonut Tuesday 30th of June 2009 ThePodCompany RT @Firzzy: Do facebook pages really work? #mydonut Tuesday 30th of June 2009 MarketingDonut Today a twitter conference-tomorrow..some kind of Glastonbury for Twitter? #mydonut Tuesday 30th of June
When we set about commissioning the Marketing Donut, nine topics stood out as by far the most useful for small businesses:
exhibitions and events
We kicked off with creating the advertising section – a good ad puts the right marketing message in front of the right people at the right time. Which is vital, really, if you’re thinking about boosting your firm’s marketing.
The site explains, in plain English, why advertising can help a small business and how to get it right. But it can be expensive – so our experts explain how to get the best value from your ad campaign, including how to find out about your target customers and produce the specific, well-defined goals you need to make it work.
Many great experts have helped us along the way. For example, Tony Davidson, creator of the legendary Honda “Power of Dreams” campaign - but always, to me, the inventor of Flat Eric - shares his exclusive tips and tricks for small businesses on making great ads. And Simon Carbery, creative director at one of the world’s top agencies, Leo Burnett, explains how to brief a creative team to get the results you need.
Loads more great ad men and women have given their time to explain – exclusively to Donut readers – how to make the most of your advertising. Find out who on launch day 20 April – just click for world-beating quality advice (only thing missing - a cuddly Flat Eric).