This is the 13th instalment of my 14 Principles for Success in Business, adapted from my book, The Little Guide To Your Bigger Future™.
Previously I talked about how persistency in business can pay dividends. Now it’s time to talk about marketing your products and services.
Marketing is about communication and there are thousands of books available on the subject and marketing companies eager to tell you where you are going wrong! It’s a big subject and arguably one of the most important principles of business to get right, so I’m not about to re-write the marketing rulebook. I’ll just tell you what has worked for me and my company with a few basic key marketing principles.
In a nutshell, marketing is all about telling people what you do and how they can benefit from your products and services.
The introduction of the Data Protection Act, General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) on 25th May 2018 puts additional restrictions on direct marketing activities, giving data subjects an absolute right to object to their personal data being processed for direct marketing purposes. In practice this means that this activity can only be undertaken where each client has given explicit consent to receive marketing material from you. To meet the GDPR standard consent should be freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous. Pre-ticked boxes or a requirement to opt out cannot be used and the consent may be withdrawn at any time. It is unlikely that any existing consents that you hold for marketing to clients would meet GDPR standards. For further information visit the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) website www.ico.org.uk.
It goes without saying that in today’s business world you’ll need a web site – and a good one at that – whatever the size of your enterprise. It can make a small company look bigger and is clearly the starting point for on-line sales if that is part of your business model. If you already have a site, keep it fresh. It’s the first place people look to check out a company. We all do it. A well-designed site will convey professionalism and can be updated at the click of a mouse. It will also act as a vehicle for news and offers.
Depending on your type of business, conventional brochures can still be very relevant. There will always be customers who appreciate the look and feel of quality, printed material.
Clearly explain what you do and what customers will get for their money. And don’t just do it once. Remind your clients and prospects repeatedly using every means at your disposal. That could include regular company e-bulletins, letters, magazine articles and so on, but in this day and age social media has taken over big time as the mass communication tool. Advertising may work for you, but it can be very expensive and you’ll need to design a mechanism to check that you are getting a return on your investment. As a client of mine once said to me, “I know that 50% of my advertising works, but I don’t know which 50%!”
Make sure your staff always promote every aspect of your business and ask your satisfied customers to recommend you. Recommendation is the most cost-effective way to promote your business and will deliver the most satisfaction to you.
So here are the Your Bigger Future™ 6 Key Marketing Principles™ that have helped me throughout my career.
1. Create a marketing strategy. Define your perfect client. Focus on how your company can become the dominant player in your area of business.
2. Be different! Stand out from the crowd. Perhaps concentrate on one area where you can really excel – customer service, maybe.
3. Educate with your marketing communications. It’s not all about sell, sell, sell! Give something away such as relevant information that clients can appreciate. Become the go-to resource!
4. Create a lead generation system. Client referral is usually favourite – but social media could become your best marketing friend!
5. Fine tune your online presence. Put yourself in your clients’ shoes, imagine what they want from your website and give it to them. Go big on search engine optimisation.
6. Establish a marketing calendar. Commit yourself by scheduling marketing activities at regular daily, weekly or monthly intervals.