Marketing is high on the agenda of the world’s biggest companies and brands; imagine the impact on an SME if they gave it the same prominence?
Unfortunately, many SME owners see marketing as a cost rather than an investment in the future of their business.
Let’s look at the function of “marketing”. It’s so much more than social media posts, leaflets and e-newsletters. These are the tactical outputs of marketing communications – but smart SME businesses focus on the ‘outcomes’ they want to achieve.
What IS your business trying to achieve?
If you examine more closely what you want to achieve, you can then tie your activities back into the company’s business plans and financial objectives. And for marketing communications to be successful, this is exactly how it should be done.
Research carried out by Marketing Week found that 40% of business owners believed a lack of budget to be the biggest barrier to companies doing more marketing and PR. This was followed by a lack of expertise (25%) and a shortage of time (25%).
In fact, you don’t have to spend a lot of money on marketing for it to be effective. You just need to know how and where to spend it and target your activities more efficiently.
Alex Beardsley, Chartered Marketer and joint Managing Director of ABL Business says:
“Over the last six years I’ve provided outsourced marketing support and consultancy to SME owners as well as teaching strategic marketing to a range of diverse businesses and organisations. At ABL Business, the way we ensure that marketing works is by putting it at the very heart of the business and ensuring that all activity is in line with the Managing Director’s vision”.
Embedding marketing into your SME
To ensure that you use the marketing process to your best advantage, you can start by including it on the agenda of all of your board and team meetings.
Regular and collective discussions around the marketing strategy and business activities embed the process into the wider culture and keep things moving forward.
A really good way to achieve this is to have a marketing specialist on your board. This could be in the form of a non-executive director or you could draft your internal marketing manager onto the senior management team.
If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it!
This old adage is every SME’s route to the stars when it comes to marketing. Measure it and then it can be managed effectively.
Done correctly, good marketing should involve internal communications as well as external promotions.
It should influence future product and service developments, customer service and sales strategies. And, last but not least, it should also play a role in shaping the future direction of the organisation.
- Alex Beardsley is an MCIM Chartered Marketer and joint Managing Director of ABL Business Ltd, a business consultancy based in Cleckheaton, West Yorkshire. ABL Business provides commercial finance and marketing support to SMEs across Yorkshire and beyond.