Paul Teahan offers an overview of Smarketing with tips on how SMEs and local businesses can attract customers.
If you google the term ‘Smarketing’ you will be hit with a number of definitions, the main one being that it is the integration of sales and marketing.
In my opinion, and for the purpose of this article, ‘Smarketing’ could also be seen as smart marketing, which in turn will lead to an increase in sales and productivity.
Why is Smarketing so important to SMEs?
It’s safe to say that SMEs no longer represent a small part of the business world, as they have significantly carved their own niche alongside some of the bigger, international companies. Indeed, in Ireland today’s SMEs employ an estimated 80% of the workforce. With the emphasis on ‘shopping local’ being at the forefront of consumers’ minds, SMEs have positioned themselves with competitive product offerings alongside top customer service.
Whilst many SMEs have started thinking outside the box with branding, it’s important for companies, from local butchers to builders merchants, to start believing in bigger when it comes to marketing. They need to act like a mid-large enterprise and develop a marketing strategy which makes them be considered not as a ‘me too’ but as the ‘unique one’ to extract the deserving share in the opportunity revenue pie.
Marketing done smart
A common misconception about marketing is that it is irrelevant and/or that one element of marketing is enough to increase sales. Whilst it may only be possible to apply part of your overall marketing budget to a few elements, it is imperative to choose the right mediums for your business.
SMEs need to plan their marketing budget in keeping with the size of their business; geographies covered or aspiring to cover, revenue and profit models and vision for the next few years. Your marketing budget should average approximately 2% of your revenue and should be spent through the right channels and media.
The strength of marketing strategy lies in the alignment of the following components: above the line, below the line, trade push, through the line (CRM), experiential, public relations and social media engagement.
Whilst all businesses are constrained with marketing budgets, more often than not, SMEs focus too much on conventional media and therefore miss the bigger picture of today’s varied marketing strengths. This is where smart marketing comes in.
Don’t overspend on above the line marketing, either electronically or in print, as this element can occupy a large portion of your budget, caters to the masses and therefore might not hit the targeted audience with the desired outcome. If you are interested in direct business, focus on your target market through trade and public exhibitions where you can interact with people. Also increase your visibility through organising and hosting your own events.
Another way of connecting with your customers is through experiential marketing, such as showcasing and demonstrating, to encourage an emotional connection and brand feel. This method corresponds with direct above the line activity and has the power of becoming word of mouth driven. Experiential marketing, whether it’s targeted at your local community or buyers at a trade fair, is about creating an experience for the customer which in turn produces positive personal and relevant memories.
Direct marketing, generally through direct mail, ezines/mailshots, white papers, customer testimonials, brings value and awareness for your product or service offerings and targets primarily prospects that have an interest in what your company does. If done properly, this is and in-expensive and highly persuasive option focused on your target market. Well directed call-to-actions makes it easy for prospects to engage with you directly.
Public relations should be an integral part of your marketing mix as it’s one of the least expensive and most credible mediums to reach your target audience through relevant media channels, both offline and online. PR is beneficial as it is unbiased and much more credible than placed advertising. Common actions include speaking opportunities, press relations and employee communication.
Finally, Social media engagement is a must for any SME but it is important to evaluate which social media platforms are necessary for your company. Facebook may seem the site to be on, however if you are a B2B company, or if your products are not used by the general public, Facebook may not be right for you.
LinkedIn is a great way to engage with communities and forums, especially through a B2B medium. Twitter connects companies to millions of influencers to push your offerings and YouTube is perfect if you have many product videos or online seminars. With any of these platforms, constant monitoring and updating is paramount to successful presence. Our own site, thebestof.ie, brings communities together while highlighting the best product and service providers across the many towns and cities of Ireland.
If you can be smart with your marketing and begin to balance all of the marketing elements, it won’t be long before your brand is being seen in a positive light, your business is engaging more with your target customers and most important, you are getting the right return on your marketing investment.
Paul Teahan is the master franchisor for Thebestof Ireland.
TheBestOf is an outsourced local marketing franchise that has championed businesses across the UK, for more than 10 years, to help establish their presence in their local areas.