The SME Marketing Mismatch and How to Overcome It The SME Marketing Mismatch and How to Overcome It

The key is to get smart when it comes to marketing and recognise where things have changed.

Marketing can seem like a waste of time and money and only really valuable if you have deep pockets to spend of every possible marketing tactic.  But don't give up -  there's light at the end of the tunnel.  Especially when you consider that your new strategy can actually save you money, help to redeploy staff and ultimately make you more profitable.

SME marketing mismatch5

The key is to get smart when it comes to marketing and recognise where things have changed.

First let's look at some typical problems/dilemmas you might have already considered or be facing:

  • Companies/SMEs need continued exposure to new prospects
  • Salespeople are an expensive resource to carry out prospecting
  • Marketing is an expensive luxury and not relevant for SMEs
  • Marketing only means websites and email shots and not much else!
  • All you want are introductions and the opportunity to talk
  • You can't get any traction talking to prospects on the telephone via cold-calling
  • Prospects already know what they want before you even speak to them
  • People are swamped with emails and advertising so how do you get a look-in?

The problem is, too many people are trying to fix a broken methodology.  The whole prospecting, cold-calling approach is now wrong, because the structure has changed.  Businesses are trying to put a square peg in a round hole.  Let me explain…

In the past, the prospector got his business by getting on his area early in the morning, knocking on doors, collecting information, making his phone calls, making his appointments and finally selling his wares.  Tenacity and salesmanship, often referred to as 'the gift of the gab' or being a smooth talker, meant he became successful through consistency and persistence.

And this approach is still considered acceptable by some older sales managers and directors; it is how they ascended to their current employed or self-made positions, therefore there can't be anything wrong with this method - right?

However the world has changed over the past thirty or so years and of course technology has played a massive part.  And so has the buyer's behaviour.  Now our computer, tablet and mobile screens are 'on' continuously and content is freely available 24/7.  It's not surprising then that the previously successful interruption marketing (cold-calling) and advertising (TV) is no longer as effective as it used to be.  And now, it is conversion optimisation that's required to engage with the 'always-on' digital screens of our prospective buyers.

The Answer:  You must plan for it!

Today's challenge for businesses is to engage with prospects early and often, even if it means NOT having a direct conversation with them until they're about ready to buy.

This makes marketing results more difficult to forecast, however new tools and software enable us to calculate where and how many people are at what stage of the buying process.  But there's one thing missing - how do you get them engaged in the first place?

This is where the old school meets the new.  In the same way the earlier salespeople would go out prospecting and cold calling, this activity has pretty much been replaced by needing to produce "Content".

What is Content?

Content is any piece of information that helps communicate you or your company's character or tone of voice.  Content is a method of showing you care about your customers and your desire to help them understand an area of business or given situation.  

To do this, you need to show them you are prepared to create the following content material:

  • Advertorials
  • Animated GIFs
  • Audio Books
  • Audio Posts
  • Awards
  • Blog Posts
  • Book Reviews
  • Brochures
  • Case Studies
  • Challenges
  • Checklists
  • Comics and Cartoons
  • Comments
  • Company Goals
  • Company News
  • Comparisons
  • Conferences and Workshops
  • Content Hubs for Curated Content
  • Content Libraries
  • Content Syndication
  • Contests
  • Data Visuals
  • Demos
  • Diagrams
  • E-Books
  • Event Replays
  • Facts and Stats
  • Failures and What Not to Do
  • Fliers
  • Forums
  • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
  • Games and Gamification
  • Guest Posts, Podcasts & Webinars
  • Guides
  • Hand-Written Notes & Sketches
  • How-To
  • Illustrations
  • Industry News
  • Infographics
  • Interviews
  • Listicle Summaries
  • Lists
  • Live Chats
  • Live-Streaming Video
  • Meetups
  • Memes
  • Metaphors
  • Microsites
  • News Releases and Pitches
  • Newsletters
  • Opinions and Rants
  • Personal Stories
  • Photo Galleries
  • Photography
  • Podcasts
  • Polls
  • Posters
  • Predictions
  • Presentations
  • Product Review
  • Questions and Answers (Q&A)
  • Quizzes
  • Quotes
  • Reports
  • Research
  • Roundups
  • Screenshots
  • Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
  • Social Media
  • Sponsorships
  • Successes
  • Surveys
  • Templates
  • Testimonials
  • Twitter Chats
  • Up-Vote Communities
  • User-Generated Content
  • Video
  • Virtual Events
  • Vlog Posts
  • Webinars
  • White Papers
  • Why
  • Wiki
  • Worksheets

You can create a content schedule that will attract your target market and coincide with any specific events, e.g. exhibitions, seasonal holidays or news items.

Frequency

According to Hubspot, it is recommended that you publish one piece of content every five or six days.  As you can see from the above lists, they are pretty varied.  Nevertheless, five or six can be quite a task, so here are some ideas that can help:

  1. Set time aside to write or create your own content (How to Stay Focused on Writing by Jerry Jenkins)
  2. Invite/request staff members to get involved
  3. Invite guest Bloggers to write articles
  4. Ask suppliers to provide content
  5. Check out Scoop.it and Paper.li as sources for curated content
  6. Select a space and set up a backdrop and lights so you can create your video blogs
  7. Seek copywriters on www.peoplebythehour.com.  You can obtain articles for between £30-£50 or more depending on what's required

However there is an argument to produce all your content in advance, before publishing it.  That way you will be able to publish on a consistent basis; browsers will become familiar with your posts and you will be able to build brand (reputational) awareness and browser loyalty.  For more information about a distribution strategy that works look at sX Social 334.  There you will find a complete content programme so that you can work towards owning your space on social platforms.

Delivery

Whether you follow the Hubspot recommendation and use sX Social 334, one of the simplest ways to distribute your content is to have a CMS website.  CMS stands for Content Management System, and it enables you to easily enter new content to your own website or blog.

Over the course of a month, you will create approximately five or six pieces of content.  These will be uploaded to your website.  If you have set things up correctly with Google, the search engines will notice that you are posting regularly and will keep crawling your website on a regular basis.  You need to make sure that your blogs are written in such a way that they are optimised for the search engines.  For more information on this take a look at our article - B2B SEO Guide for 2020; it explains what you need to do enhance your content to maximise the traffic.

Promotion

The next stage is to inform your existing customers about your new articles.  Typically this is done by sending out a newsletter emailshot, showing the previous month's content with links to your website.  Additional sign up forms should be placed on your website to give visitors the option of subscribing to your content.

See below for more suggestions about promoting your content:

  1. Use a Doormat pop-up 'widget' to encourage people to sign up when they first visit
  2. Place banner ads on your selected vertical market websites
  3. Use postcards, sent by The Post Office, to promote your blog
  4. Can you write a short book?  If so, do it and promote it as a free gift in return for permission to e-mail your prospects
  5. Create a reciprocal business network like a salesXchange Syndicate
  6. Publish Press Releases on platforms like www.ResponseSource.com with links directly to your article(s)
  7. Add an Opt-in sign-up form on your Home Page and any other relevant pages
  8. Ensure that your company Facebook Page is set up to allow browsers to sign up to your content
  9. Post your articles on LinkedIn Pulse
  10. Post links and images on social media sites:
            a. Facebook Newsfeed & Company Pages
            b. Twitter
            c. LinkedIn, Newsfeed & Company Pages
            d. Pinterest
            e. Instagram  
  11. Create an eCourse
  12. Webinars
  13. Public Speaking
  14. Create a Facebook Contest

Financial

As you develop your Content Strategy and gradually execute it, you will realise that significant changes can be made internally.

    1. Sales people are gradually not needed to carry out prospecting or cold telesales tasks
    2. More experienced sales people can 'close' the inbound business
    3. The excess sales people can be redeployed to create content
    4. Surplus staff can be 'let go'
    5. Over time content can be repurposed, keeping costs to a minimum.

Conclusion

Converting from an outbound sales-driven business to an inbound content driven business can and will take time.  But we can't stress enough how important this transition is.  The more a business hangs on to the previous way of doing things, the harder it will be to embrace new strategies and business processes.  Embrace the new way of thinking that 'Content is King' and start creating and owning your space with your target market.

About the Author

Nigel Maine

Nigel Maine

Nigel is the Founder & Managing Director of salesXchange and has been helping businesses for over 25 years to develop their marketing, technologies and infrastructure to generate more profits, more efficiently. His recent book "Integrate! The Essential Business Technology & Marketing Handbook" can be downloaded from Amazon.

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