Most SMEs don’t have a business marketing strategy. It’s believed developing a marketing strategy is an expensive exercise for big brands to focus on, which couldn’t be further from the truth, it is almost the opposite. SMEs cannot afford to make mistakes and they don’t have the money or time to experiment. They need to plan more and get it right first time.

So what is a business marketing strategy? It all starts with what makes you special. Why are you different from your competitors? There are very few truly unique businesses anymore, most things have been invented, but that combination of things you do to service your client or build your product, that’s what makes you special.

It might be the way you follow up on an order, it could be the extra mile you go when delivering a product. With an SME it is normally that combination of the product/service and the special touch you can add that a big brand just cannot.

It is these things that make you stand out and why developing a marketing strategy is important. Take the time to remember this stuff and build it into all your messaging. When you go to write a social post, film a reel, post a video or write a leaflet to deliver through a letterbox, you should automatically know what the content is, it shouldn’t be a case of dreaming it up each time.

Your marketing strategy should include the content pillars that you’ll focus on, your vision, the objectives of marketing and the channels you should focus on. These will all give you focus and stop you from wasting time on things that don’t matter.

The first step and one of the most important parts of marketing strategy development are to know your customer.

Business growth starts with knowing your customer

Let’s start at the beginning, not everyone is your customer, they simply cannot be. You might hate the idea of not appealing to everyone but in simple terms:

“If you try to appeal to everyone, you’ll do an average job for all of them. If you try to appeal to a specific type of customer, you’ll do an amazing job for them”

If you become very good at marketing to one type of customer, then others will notice the buzz and want to understand if you can help them, and this is how you will experience business growth.

As a marketing strategy example, very early in my company’s timeline, I decided we should double down on how we support insurance companies. If you want to put labels on it, we made insurance our ‘niche’. We did such a good job (because we knew our market inside out), that we won awards and got great publicity.

As it turned out, when people moved on to work elsewhere, they ended up telling people in their new businesses about us. Suddenly we were getting people in the gambling and retail sectors asking if what we did could be adapted for them, the answer, of course, it could. Now we had three sectors which kept us busy.

When I talk about understanding your customer, I mean learning the detail. I want you to understand them like they are your best friend. What are the pains that they need to solve? Tell me the desires they have. What are their purchase drivers? Where do they hang out?

Answer all those questions and you’ll save yourself so much time. You’ll realise that only 3-4 channels matter, so stop wasting time on 20 others. You’ll know the messages that will attract them; therefore, you won’t spend hours every day coming up with new straplines, they will be automatic. All of this is critical information that will feed into your marketing strategy.

Optimise your content marketing by working in batches

Regarding dreaming up new straplines and content ideas, one killer way to be efficient in marketing is writing content in batches and then scheduling it (more on the scheduling part shortly). A study I always refer people back to centres around how long it takes someone to ‘get in the zone’. It’s estimated that every time you get disturbed it can take up to 23 minutes to focus again.

This principle applies to content writing, if you start afresh every time you need to schedule some marketing content, it will waste so much time getting up to speed again. Instead of spending 2 hours every 3 days, spend a full day once a month. You’ll be able to schedule your marketing for the next month and not worry about it again, leaving you to focus on other tasks that will help your business grow.

Grow your small business with the power of big business

The big tech businesses love to tell the world they support small businesses. It might all be part of their own marketing gimmick but that doesn’t mean you cannot take advantage of it.

To be efficient you need to use a scheduling tool. This will allow you to plan for weeks ahead and not waste time uploading to individual social channels each time. Most of these tools have a free trial. Most offer a free service for low use (i.e., SME level use). Work the system to your advantage. Even if you do go above the free level, the small cost will easily offset your precious time.

The same goes for valuable time-saving tools like email platforms, customer relationship management (CRMs) or content management system (CMS). Massive companies like Mailchimp, Salesforce, HubSpot, WordPress and Shopify all offer a free trial, free low-use accounts, and very cheap products for SMEs. Seek them out, familiarise yourself with the tools that work best for you and save your company time and money in the process. Marketing and how to finance your business are more linked than you realise, so make sure you are working with the bigger picture in mind.

How to improve sales strategy with repelling marketing

An ideal marketing strategy is also about repelling customers. What? Have you gone mad? I promise this will make sense in a second.

Part of the role of marketing is to attract your ideal customer, so it stands to reason that what it will also do is repel those that are not good customers. This is a massive efficiency benefit you should embrace.

As an SME, you cannot afford to take on bad customers. We all know the type, they complain about everything, they want discounts applied constantly and they will never buy the high-margin products. They stop you from focusing on the people that will grow your business.

You don’t have to go out of the way to repel these people, just double down on the things that matter to you. Go back to what I said at the start, understand what makes your business special and talk about that consistently. If someone doesn’t like those things, then they are wrong for your business and will only waste your time.

To build a simple marketing strategy, ensure you include all the following:

  • What makes you special?
  • Who is your ideal customer?
  • What channels matter to your customers?
  • What content do they want to consume?

Following these and building a marketing strategy will be simple, effective, and ruthlessly efficient.

For more advice on how to overcome SME challenges, join us on the 17th of November for our free “Inspire Introducing Goldman Sachs” event.

Not only will you discover the support available for small businesses, including the Goldman Sachs’ Small Business 10,000 programme, but there will also be opportunities to hear directly from business leaders on their most valuable tips and resources to overcome the breadth of challenges facing SMEs. Sign-up here or contact us via team@inspirebiz.co.uk to find out more.

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