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Friday, 22 November 2013

Friday Guest Blog: Marketing Communication – Don’t Forget the Longer Term

David Wright, Chartered Marketer at BSA Marketing 

In the SME world, marketing can be a fickle friend. With the bottom line of spend now in the expectation of future benefit’, businesses are regularly focused on seeing the quick win, whereas good marketing and good business relationships take time.

Often budgets/resources get stretched as a company commits more than they would like in the hope/expectation of a quick win to balance the books.

Too frequently, the quick win doesn’t happen (or isn’t sustained) and anxiety can quickly grow as the financial hole gets deeper. Almost inevitably, the end result is the programme being terminated and wounds licked until the next time when it all starts again!

As a result, much selling of marketing services focuses on the short term with promises of great results. If you are touting the Next Big Marketing Thing – it can be an easy sell on the back of the suggestion of rapid results – which all too often don’t deliver, certainly in the way the customer expects.

All of the above may sound negative (if not a bit cynical!) but it is how, in my experience, so much SME marketing operates and the danger that companies never see past the short term.

Marketing is a process – you need to get past the short term!
Here are three real-world examples which demonstrate - Never say never - People will respond to your marketing when they are ready, which isn’t necessarily as quickly as you may hope! But reply they will….

A How often have you experienced this?

1.   A productive and encouraging initial meeting with a potential customer.
2.   You prepare your proposals
3.   You follow up
4.   NOTHING…I have a client where this happened then a call from them 2 years later led to a long and successful relationship

B Referral from a colleague. Last year, a colleague of mine gave me the name of someone I didn’t known saying it may be worth my sending them an introductory e-mail, which I did. The response was a big fat zero – until 10 months later when a call out of the blue (“You’ve probably forgotten but you sent me an e-mail a while ago….”), opened up a significant opportunity.

C The staying power of e-newsletters

We have been working with a particular client for a number of years delivering a programme of regular e-newsletters to their contacts. We have always stressed that the key objective of the programme is to ‘keep in touch’, ‘build awareness and understanding’, and make sure the ‘our client is remembered by their contacts’.

The payback is that when a contact has a need, the regular communication will help ensure our client is on an inside track to get the enquiry.

The process was proven recently when our client received a direct ‘Reply-To’ from an e-newsletter sent over a year ago. The reply was an enquiry for a 5-6 figure project.
Lessons to Learn

Don’t give up at the first sign of failure

So many people look for the marketing magic wand (BTW whatever anyone says, it doesn’t exist!)

Sometimes, people can start on a marketing campaign and as soon as they decide it isn’t delivering in the way they expect, they start to look for something else. Certainly marketing is speculative but remember:

If you have a strong business proposition that truly adds value and delivers real benefit to your customers and you communicate your proposition to a relevant target market, they WILL buy from you. Not all of them and not all at once but you must have confidence in your offering.

Have a plan and work it

If you don’t have a marketing plan, you will find it really hard to manage and sustain consistent marketing. Even if you do, without a plan to set out what you are doing, why you are doing it and what results you expect, you won’t be able to refer actual results to planned expectations and develop your approach accordingly

Don’t over-stretch your resources

Too much money or time being ploughed into marketing often means just digging a hole you can ill afford. Unless you are lucky and get one or two quick wins, motivation drops and there is a danger that the plug will be pulled

You do need to commit resources (budget and/or time) to your marketing and business development but make sure your commitment is at a level you are comfortable to sustain, and within the framework of a clear and structured plan that allows you to manage and control your marketing.

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