Business owners warned to stop winging their marketing efforts
CAPE TOWN – Whether they like it or not, all business owners engage in some form of marketing, but many neglect to adopt a strategic approach. It’s not surprising then that marketing was highlighted as the area in which most business owners feel they require skills training, according to the most recent National Small Business Survey by the National Small Business Chamber.
“A well-researched marketing plan can be the difference between business success and failure,” says Byron Jeacocks, Regional General Manager at Business Partners Limited (BUSINESS/PARTNERS) – one of Africa’s leading business loan and equity providers and 2019 Gold winner: SME Bank of the Year (Africa)* – who warns against simply rushing headlong into the market.
“In order to create a strong foundation for effective promotional campaigns, however, you first need define your target market, analyse any current competitors, find your pricing sweet spot, and determine your business’ Unique Selling Proposition (USP),” says Jeacocks, who believes that these business plan basics are essentially the building blocks to any effective campaign.
Once these basics have been agreed upon, and a business owner is ready to start promoting with purpose, Jeacocks says it is important to consider all marketing channels and methods available; ranging from traditional methods like signage, flyers, posters, cold calling and networking, to the latest digital tools and social media marketing.
“While the options may seem endless and somewhat overwhelming, the reality is that marketing remains an expensive endeavour and should be given careful thought,” he says. “As such, don’t just stick to what you’re used to, but when trying out a new marketing method, try small, experimental campaigns first to see what works best.”
Something that Jeacocks believes is worth considering for businesses who haven’t done so already, is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) for a business website, to increase traffic from relevant searches. “Just having a website is like printing thousands of flyers and not handing them out,” he says. “SEO is a constantly changing art and science that business owners need to become familiar with.”
When it comes to promotional activities, Jeacocks reminds business owners that they are likely sitting on a “gold mine” of existing clients, who are easier to sell to than finding new clients. “As such, an effective marketing strategy should include a client-retention component, such as a monthly mailer and frequency discount. A referral incentive for anyone who sends new clients your way can also work very well and creates a sense of loyalty to the brand.
“Just remember, marketing is a cycle; there is no such thing as a once-off marketing strategy,” warns Jeacocks. “The market, your competitors and the needs and preferences of your clients are never static. You have to ensure that your marketing strategy stays abreast of these changes by doing regular reviews of your marketing plan and campaigns,” he concludes.
Content supplied by BUSINESS/PARTNERS