The good news is that UK small businesses and organisations are now realising the significance of social media. The bad news is that many register with as many platforms as they know without really knowing what to do next. Not planning in advance can lead to lots of wasted time and disillusionment in the whole process. Social marketing is not an overnight success. It’s like any networking – it takes time, it’s about relationships.
Planning is as important as in any business process, so I’ve put together a straightforward 8 step guide that will help you get started.
1) Sit down with your team and decide what you want to achieve. Are you looking to increase the number of newsletter or brochure sign ups or maybe become better known for a particular product/service?
2) Research your customers and potential customers. Are they active on social media? What are they looking at? What do they want to know? If you can’t find out ask them
3) Once you know where your customers are you can decide the most suitable social platforms to use to speak to them
4) If you don’t already have one, create and use a company blog. This will form the core that will drive all your other communication
5) Once you’re up and ready spend time listening (or reading) doesn’t just dive in. Gradually build your network and start building relationships
6) Ok, you’ve spent some time listening to what people are saying now you can start to add your comments. Look at what’s being said in groups related to your market and add your voice
7) Start to post your own content. This can be a mixture of original material or sharing content from other people that you think your network will find interesting. Where possible help people
8) Monitor and measure. Most social platform have their own analytics plus there are some free ad-ons you can use before moving to more sophisticated paid ones. The beauty of social media is that you can see it working.
The biggest trap to avoid is overtly selling. I see lots and lots of posts that are pure and simply direct selling. The clue is in the name, SOCIAL media. Today people dislike being sold to. Everyone does some research first and always deal with people they trust. Social media is a means to gain that trust and to make sure that when someone is looking to buy a widget, your widgets are already implanted in their mind.
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is a headache for many small businesses. Many think it a waste of time and can't see the point and those who can are often worried about being taken for a ride by those who practice the 'dark art' of SEO.
Well, the bad news is that small businesses can't really afford to ignore it any longer. However, the good news is that the new search algorithm from Google, the Panda 4.0 should help.
The phrase 'content is king' is as well worn as a comfy pair of shoes, but from now on content really is king. The new search criteria will reward those web sites that provide good, original, authoritative content that is frequently updated whilst penalising those sites that just re-hash existing material. In addition you will be rewarded by how easy and intuative your web site is to navigate.
If you view your web site as a an online catalogue you had better start thinking again and if you haven't got a blog onto which you regularly post then again, start thinking.
Fortunately Google have uploaded a post that will help in your likely review.
One of the most influential thinkers and writers on the subject of management theory and practice, American Peter Drucker, once said that “great business is made up of only marketing and innovation”. However, many SME’s, see marketing as no more than an add-on function that can be dropped when things aren’t going so well.
The extent to which marketing is misunderstood and undervalued by the manufacturing and industrial sectors is demonstrated by the fact that many, if not most, small businesses, combine the roles of marketing and sales in the shape of a Sales & Marketing Manager/Director; A position which is in fact at odds with itself.
The marketing function, if done correctly, is to focus the business on meeting the needs of its target customers, on the other hand, sales are trying to get the customer to match the product they are selling. Put another way, sales does one function within the business, whereas marketing should have an influence on every area.
· Developing the products that solves customers problems
· Ensuring the correct pricing strategy is adopted
· Making sure the products are readily where and when customers want them
· Establishing a customer support service before, during and after sales
· Promoting the product in a way that convinces the customer that it is not only the preferred choice, but is in fact, the only choice.
The first four bullets above come under what is known as ‘Upstream Marketing’, a process which asks fundamental questions of a business. Which markets does the business want to work in, how much of those markets are available to us, which products does the market need, what features, price, experience etc. and what will give us a competitive edge? The questions that make the difference between success and failure or at least mediocrity.
As we emerge from recession there is a case for saying that competitive advantage should be the main topic of conversation in any boardroom and giving marketing its key role is the way to make this happen.
But what about resources? How much should you invest in marketing?
Please note that I say marketing not advertising
As a percentage of revenue, recent surveys suggest that packaged goods spend between 4% - 10%, retail 2% - 5%, car manufacturers 2% - 3.5% and professional services at the top with at least 15%. In comparison, many SME’s spend barely 1%. This lack of investment kills any chance of creating that all important competitive edge.
The question SME owners will ask is “what will be my return on investment”? That of course depends on the strength of your commitment. However, a better question would be; In five years’ time, where will you be in relation to the competition if you continue to treat marketing as an add-on that can be dropped whenever costs need cutting?
David Hassell DLH Marketing
It’s no good complaining to your agency about a failed campaign unless you can be sure you gave them, or allowed them to obtain, all the information required to develop the right creative message. To achieve this you must develop a comprehensive brief that includes the following.
Your campaign objectives – is this brand awareness, increased market share, diversification, etc.
Your target market – you should have undertaken market research before now that describes who your market is, what they buy, how they reach purchasing decisions.
What is your products USP (Unique Selling Point/Proposition) – Why should it be purchased above a competitor, what makes it different
Your core message – what you are offering the customer – further information, a chance to sample, special offers
Your call to action – How you want potential customers to respond – request information, call a telephone line, go to your website
Media – where your message is going to be delivered. More reasons to have conducted research
What supporting activities will be required – point of sale, telemarketing, exhibitions
This is vital information that will help creatives approach the job in a logical way, ensuring all the relevant facts are taken into account and that the copy and creative ideas fit the task.
A brief of this nature is vital whether you are using outside suppliers or your own in house team.
How many times have you sat thru a presentation or read an organisation’s advertising and sales literature where the content waxes lyrical about the various strengths of the product? It’s lighter, quicker, better and of course it maximises and optimizes as well as being more reliable, longer lasting and saving money. In tests brand X outperformed all other brands.
While all these claims may be perfectly true what do they actually mean? If you read that something will speed up your production process are you actually any wiser? Speed up the process compared to what? Reading descriptive text leaves the purchaser knowing nothing. Quite simply it gets boring and the reader switches off.
Let’s face it, there are only so many ways you can describe how much bigger, faster, lighter a product is and your customer has read them all.
You can be different – instead of pure narrative give the reader something tangible, give them facts and figures.
Your cutting machine outperformed the competition in accuracy by 0.002mm; under tests the brand X battery lasted 24 hours longer than other leading brands.
Remember you’re not competing for a literary prize you’re selling but that doesn’t mean you can’t be interesting. Despite its age the classic ad above for Rolls Royce created by David Ogilvy still stands as a great example of advertising copy. Why? Because it’s full of facts that sell the car, even the headline but it still makes great reading.
David (inspired by Jeffrey J Fox)
David has worked in advertising and marketing services for 30 years both client and agency side. Having worked with local, national and muliti-national clients, he set up DLH Marketing to help small organisations, owner managed businesses and those organisations without in-house marketing.