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.

The SME Marketing Mismatch and How to Overcome It

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

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

Some typical problems:

  • 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 we want are introductions and the opportunity to talk
  • We can't get any traction talking to prospects on the telephone via cold-calling
  • Prospects already know what they want before we even speak to them
  • People are swamped with emails and advertising so how do we 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, knocked on doors, collected information, made his phone calls, make his appointments and sold 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.

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

Not surprisingly the world has changed over the past thirty or so years and of course technology has had a massive part to play here.  But so, does people's behaviour.  When you combine the fact that computer, tablet and mobile screens are 'on' continuously and the content is more or less selected beforehand, it's not surprising that the previously successful interruption TV marketing and advertising is failing to be as effective and now, the methodology required is conversion optimisation to engage with the 'always-on' digital screens and people.

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 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 at 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?

The 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 you want to help them understand an area of business or given situation.  

And 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

Create a content schedule that will coincide with your target market and any specific events, i.e. 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

Delivery

One of the simplest methods 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 piece 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.

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 amounts content with links to your website.  Additional sign up forms should be placed on your website to give visitor's the option of subscribing to your content.

See below for more suggestions about promoting it 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 salesXchange.
  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. Google+
            e. Pinterest
            f. 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 I 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.

About the Author

Nigel Maine

Nigel Maine

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

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