All business large and small will at one point or another need to do marketing, promotions and public relations. Its one thing having a great business, selling great products and services and its another thing to get your name out there in front of potential customers and clients. Why is it then that we still hear small business owners saying things like “I want to get my customers through word of mouth” and making the assumption that once they do a little promotion the rest will come by itself? Are small business that naive?
Whether you’re a Coca-cola, a McDonalds or a small home business, marketing and promotion applies to your business in the exact same way. Now, you might be thinking that Coca-Cola, with their mega budget, can do their marketing and promotions easier but you must not forget that this large corporation was once a very small business too. You’ve got to start somewhere and in the beginning that start is often small.
If we take a look at Coca-cola in this example, we see that throughout its history of 129 years of establishment, Coca-cola still does a huge amount of marketing. With every holiday season, changing of the weather seasons’s, etc. Coca-Cola is there on TV reminding you to ‘Choose Happiness’. As a brand, coca-cola has produced variations on the Coca-Cola classic but also extended to other frizzy soft drinks. Coca-cola is a household name and because of this, you could ask yourself whether any marketing is necessary at all? The answer is a big fat YES! No matter how well known you are you will always need to pour a continuous effort into your marketing activities.
“Marketing isn’t something you do once to catapult you further. Marketing is a serious and continuous part of your business.”
If Coca-Cola stopped their marketing activities another company would come about and attempt to take its place. Like Pepsi for example. But its not just about competition, it’s also about keeping the brand Coca-Cola in your mind, as much as possible. When you go to the supermarket, you are offered a huge selection of choice in every section. Each brand has to stand out before you’ve even reached the supermarket or fear losing your attention to the other 20 versions and supermarket brands that are similar, if not cheaper.
When people talk about your product/service
Let’s go back to the original generalization about customers coming via word-of-mouth. Word of Mouth marketing is very real, let’s be clear on this. Its just that its temporary. In other words, people will talk about your product or service whilst there is something to talk about. For example, after a launch. But once the buzz has settled down, so will the talking. It doesn’t just continue and people won’t just keep talking about your product for you…unless you give them something to talk about. That something to talk about can be anything from a new taste, a special offer or a branding aspect. It doesn’t really matter as long as others are talking and sharing things about you. Word of Mouth marketing is in fact an old school viral marketing but you have to keep feeding it.
The classic Coca-Cola hasn’t changed in all of these years. The drink is the same. Sometimes its in a bottle and other times its in a can, but Coca-Cola is Coca-cola, no more, no less. What the Coca-Cola company do very well is remind us of how great life can be with its branding. In every commercial they bring out, they show us how coke helps us to enjoy life. Whether this is true or not is another case. The point is they are there, on screen, in our living rooms, our lives reminding us to buy the product. And it works. They give us a reason to talk about them.
“Markets change. People change. Target groups diversify and competition arises and you still think your customers will come by themselves???”
Naive small businesses
Small businesses need to realize that their business will not be able to grow unless they dedicate time to marketing. When you’re starting out, marketing is something you do on the side, but there comes a point when you realise that you must actively seek your customers and bring your product and service to them. You get out what you put it. Its no cliché.
Think about your budget too? How much to you put aside for your marketing? Do you even have a budget? If not, perhaps you should ask yourself if you’re even serious about your business? Harsh? Yes, maybe, but nonetheless true. There’s always an excuse and that’s the whole problem with small business owners.
These days we have social media and the internet. Reaching your customers has never been easier. And if its a question of time either dedicate a specific day in the week to marketing or get help but not doing anything cannot be an option for you.
Use free promotional services where available, like HARO – a service which journalists use to find experts (professionals, business owners) for editorial pieces. Its free publicity, right? So get signed up!
If your time is short hire a freelancer or virtual assistant to help you with social media marketing. Take the marketing of your business seriously or risk your business failing. Its as simple as that!