Earlier this month I collaborated on a business networking event in Essex, talking about how to market your business on a limited budget. Now the thing is that many small business owners think that marketing on a limited budget is about social media. After all, it is widely misunderstood that social media is for free or very cheap. However, for marketing to be effective one needs to work with/on many touchpoints and social media is only one of them. So the aim of the event was to open eyes to the possibilities and options which small businesses can explore, and in fact they mostly overlook or dismiss as part of their marketing activities.
The event was split into two parts – a panel discussion with Q&A followed by networking. Both are equally important to us and so we tried to encourage active engagement.
Here are the points that were discussed in more detail in terms of how to market your business on a limited budget:
DEFINE YOUR BRAND STORY
Before you even start thinking about marketing, the first thing you should understand is what your brand story is about. I always say that the best way to approach building your story is with “NO ONE CARES” attitude. If you can wrap your head around this, you will start using your creative thinking to explore the ways you define, tell and share your story. You shape the core story and create several angles, which are unique to your business.
COMMUNICATE YOUR STORY IN A COHESIVE MANNER
Once you have the story, you need to communicate it to your customers/clients. In the process of defining your story you also go through setting your brand’s voice and tone. This goes back to what you stand for as a brand, your values and personality. Only then you are able to clearly communicate your message through several touchpoints – situations and events when your brand comes in contact with a customer. In the old days touchpoints were very limited. These days we live in a world where we all have access to many of them at once. So the idea is to “be seen everywhere” but have one strong message throughout your marketing campaign. Go back to your keywords, corporate identity and your brand’s language to guide your communication.
Before you can explore different touchpoints, you need a set of tools. These are your website, promotional materials – such as brochure, lookbook, gift cards -, videos, photography, articles, POS (in retail) etc. Creating each of them should be approached with same weight of importance. I see many brands with weak websites and lookbooks that are average. They are letting you down. With broken tools you simply cannot achieve results you want to achieve.
COLLABORATIONS (and a word on BRANDING)
Apart from PR and traditional media, collaborations should be considered as one of your strategic touchpoints. They can be great cost-effective marketing activities with high ROI but be careful when it comes to branding, make sure that they don’t dilute your brand. Instead, find a common theme and style, reflecting all collaborators’ business ethos, mission and vision. Collaborations with influencers and bloggers require defined expectations and processes to ensure that both parties are happy with the campaign and outcome. This can be achieved through thorough market research and networking which can take time to do.
ONLINE MARKETING AND SOCIAL MEDIA
Most brands focus on social media as their main touchpoint. Accessibility and cost-effectiveness, as already mentioned, are some of the reasons. Increasingly, it’s getting harder and harder to cut through the noise. Approach social media platforms as an opportunity to share and reinforce your story and messaging.
Include networking into your marketing plan and strategy. As I said, marketing is only effective when all touchpoints come together. Be present, visit events (trade, openings, retail etc) and seek out places and opportunities where you can make a positive impact, provide an experience and leave a mark on people. The more people you get to talk to face to face, the better.
Of course there is so much more to cover. And even though the above is nothing groundbreaking or new, what we wanted to put across is 1/ understanding the importance of having a strong and unique story and 2/ working with several touchpoints which your customer can see and therefore link back to your business.
Thank you so much to Clio and Athena at Black & Sigi, Jemma from Truly Madly Healthy and Pascale from Style Mum for this collaboration. Also Emma from SaltyAirSunkissedHair for being the official event’s blogger on the day.