So many businesses rely on word of mouth for so long that it almost becomes habitual. Is this a rut that you have found yourself in? Whilst word of mouth can be one of the most valuable marketing tools, it is important to recognise that it should be part of your marketing strategy, but not your entire strategy.
To break away from the sole reliance of word of mouth, and to start growing your business to the next level, it’s important to take a step back and review the most effective strategy for your business (sounds daunting but it really doesn’t have to be). The strategy and road to take will be different for each and every one of us, and this is an important lesson to learn.
One size does not fit all when it comes to marketing, so don’t feel like you have to take the same road as all of your competitors. Focus on your own journey and make sure you take the fastest route!
We recently had a question from one of our lovely Facebook followers. It’s a question we get asked a lot, so we thought we’d get down to it and give you a quick guide to starting on your marketing plan…here’s what they asked;
“I have always used word-of-mouth and am now considering advertising but am not sure the best avenue.”
BEWARE – STOP PRESS (Literally)
Don’t go straight to the phone and book an advert in your local paper. Yes, there is a place for advertising, but hold fire and let’s get strategic for a minute.
There are likely to be some really cost effective and targeted ways in which to start your marketing journey beyond word of mouth. They may actually be more effective than advertising, have lower cost implications, and yield a higher return on investment.
Sadly a lot of Startups waste endless money on ineffective advertising, and it’s usually because they’ve missed out some key questions in their marketing strategy. So let’s look at these and make sure your next steps are effective…
SIMPLE STEPS TO DECIDING ON THE BEST MARKETING TECHNIQUES
1) Know your audience (if you are unsure about your different audiences then read our ‘How to Master Target Marketing in 5 Easy Steps first). It’s crucial to understand that not everyone is your audience. Action: Write down each audience type now.
2) Where are your audiences hanging out? Where can you reach them with your marketing? The internet? Via your website? Social Media? Specific groups? Networks? Do they read certain magazines? Do they watch particular TV programs etc. Really think about who your target audience is and where you can reach them (a lot of them at one time) with ease. Action: Put yourself in their shoes and write down where they are hanging out next to each audience. See example below.
3) Let’s get specific. Now that you know where your audience is most likely to be, let’s get specific. If they are the type of audience that spends a lot of time on social media, then are they on particular online forums or groups for example? If so, you can write these down and spend your time and efforts networking on these particular forums. Action: Write down exactly where you can find your audience and how you might interact with them.
Cathy sells organic cloth nappies. Her core target audience is new mums who are environmentally aware and have tendencies towards natural living alternatives (this is an assumption used for the purpose of this example).
|Audience||Where are they hanging out?||Specifically|
|New mums – eco aware – interested in natural living||· Social media groups for new mums/organic/natural living|
· Internet – looking at new and innovative products to assist with natural living because there aren’t many alternatives in the shops
· Markets (mums looking at handmade/organic/local products)
· Buying organic, natural products from other companies
· New born clubs/groups
· Cafés having coffee with friends/new mums
· Hospital wards/breastfeeding groups/community groups/mums support/GP surgeries
|Write down the names of specific groups where you can liaise with your audience. DO NOT spam though! Engage in conversation where networking is accepted and permitted. Or comment authentically as your page without being pushy. This can be a great way to grow your business. Straight to your target audience (building relationships and low cost). Also, get to work on Instagram – an amazing platform for products (particularly those targeting females/mums)|
Hold a market stall to raise your profile. Great for brand awareness and networking. Be sure to have cards with your web address handy. Constantly drive people to where they can buy!
Partner with someone else with a similar target audience but with products that do not have any conflict of interest e.g. organic nappy cream and baby skincare. Partnerships and collaborations can open up some wonderful doors and often the most amazing opportunities.
Can you contact local mums groups and offer some dual promotions? You promote them and they promote you. Everyone wins and it costs nothing! Just make sure you support them as it needs to be a value add for both brands.
Flyers in cafes (where permitted). Get to know your local businesses. If your values align then they may be happy to support you.
Often new mums are given new-born packs. Find out how you can get involved. Are you able to offer a big discount for their first order to make it enticing? Or perhaps a free ‘something’. Engage and network with groups who have regular contact with your target audience. Think about unique ways in which you can add a touch of wow to the group. Get their attention and get them engaged.
Notice we did not choose to advertise in a local paper. It makes far more sense to focus on the main places that new eco-conscious mums are hanging out. That doesn’t mean that there is no place for advertising. It just means there may be some more effective methods to start with. Plus, how many Startups have a budget to throw at high cost print advertising? FINALLY
Perhaps your target audience does read a specific magazine or paper avidly, and therefore the return on investment may be totally worth it. But think very clearly before you rush into anything. Perhaps Cathy from our example above could send a product sample to a relevant magazine for review? Or maybe send a free product gift to a well-known mummy blogger on Instagram with tons of followers. Think about all of your options and any innovative ways in which you can get the attention your products or services deserve. Always ask yourself…is this targeted marketing? If not, think again about the tactics you are utilising.
If you complete the exercise above then you’ll start to develop a tactical marketing plan that is going to be far more effective than a scatter gun approach. So when you ask the question again, what should I do with my marketing next? Go back to this exercise and you will be on the right track before you know it.
Don’t be daunted by this exercise. You will find it a refreshing way to clarify your thoughts about the next best steps for your business’s marketing. We’d love to hear how this exercise has helped you to move forward.TAKE ACTION
Don’t forget to contact us if you’d rather put your feet up and let us do the hard work ☺