Why small businesses need integrated marketing campaigns

 

I’ve just sat through an interesting webinar, hosted by the CIM and Storm creative agency and would like to share a few stats with you, courtesy of CIM/Mintel.

From a survey among business owners/CEOs, a large proportion of their marketing budget is currently spent on:

PR (10%)

CRM (9.6%)

Email (9.5%)

Traditional advertising (not online) 9.4%

They consider that they achieve the best ROI from CRM, Email and PR, with the worst returns given by traditional advertising, sponsorship and direct mail.

The CIM was quick to emphasise that traditional marketing techniques should not be ditched in favour of digital marketing however, as of course your target markets will no doubt all prefer to be communicated with in a different way.

Even though of course, this does not perhaps tally up with the statistics above.

It also stressed several times that in order to run an integrated communications campaign, you as a business owner, need to employ a “proper” creative agency.

Which is where I disagree.

My client list, past and present, stands at around 200.  All of them are small businesses or sole traders.  Of this number, around 5% have told me that they have indeed used agencies in the past but felt that they were not provided either with the results they were looking for, or value for money.

Anyone can be creative, given the motivation and resources to be so.  Creativity is gained from knowing an industry, the target audience, clarity of goals and several passionate people, bouncing ideas off each other.  This costs nothing, which I know you’re going to tell me, is about the marketing budget you have available!

Of course, in order to be effective, that creativity needs to be balanced with proper research, clear objectives and the knowledge of what makes your audience tick.  Which is, after all, the whole ethos of marketing.

Unfortunately, due to resource constraints, I am often asked to carry out individual marketing activities for organisations which may or may not see significant immediate results.  Do bear in mind that sales activities are VERY different from marketing campaigns.  If you’re hoping to place an ad in the local newspaper and subsequently see sales of your unique organic catfood catapult by 200% in a week, you’re likely to be disappointed.

An experienced marketer will start at grass roots level, helping you to develop your brand.  Looking at the size of your market, your customers’ profile and buying behaviour, your brand message and competitor differentiation is vital BEFORE you bring your product or service to market.

The whole point of this exercise is to clarify:

a.  what your business is and how it can bring about benefits to your target audience (ie why they should buy)

b.  how you do all this much better than your competitors (and why customers should buy)

You must have these answers clear in your own mind before you start communicating them to your target audience.  If you’re not clear and convinced, how can they be?

Once this is all in place, it will then become clear as to which marketing techniques are likely to be most effective, with some organisations wisely choosing to trial them first.  It is unlikely that one technique will “fit all” and so it is vital that you run several integrated activities consistently over a period of time in order for your brand to become recognised and trusted, for you to build up relationships with your clients and potential clients – thus encouraging brand loyalty and maintain competitive advantage.

All too often, new clients come to me, having spent a small fortune getting their product or service ready to bring to market, only to have next to no budget left and no fixed marketing plan, only a vague idea of a particular tactic they’d like to use.

Remember that your offering will only be successful if the right people get to know about it and are convinced that it’s the one for them.  This will not happen overnight, so be sure to put both some planning time and budget aside, to ensure that your marketing communications will be effective and allow you to achieve a significant ROI.

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