Achieving customer reach through marketing strategy
The biggest challenge for small/medium companies is reaching their intended audience. This problem becomes even more pronounced in business markets where key decision-makers are often hiding behind an email firewall and a receptionist. "Reach", is the crucial reason SMEs do marketing, as in: "help me announce myself to my target market".
Interestingly, with established brands and larger companies, the reason for doing marketing is different. Awareness has already been achieved, and it becomes a case of encouraging existing customers to remain loyal. It is this reason why a company like Coca Cola continues to advertise. Small brands advertise to become known; large brands to stay relevant. Same activity; different objectives.
The problem smaller companies have is how to achieve reach with limited resources. Small budgets mean that certain heavy-hitting, mass-marketing tools are unavailable, and so too highly targeted ones that require a substantial investment in upfront research. Even the old favourite, social media, becomes costly considering that organic reach is heavily throttled requiring you to spend money on paid campaigns. Before you know it, you sit with a big awareness issue and almost no tools to make the problem go away.
Enter the world of strategy.
Ironically, small businesses are notorious for not taking a strategic approach to marketing despite it being the right tool that can help them break through to their intended audience. Marketing within these businesses is typically random exercises obsessed with social media and website tricks that end up being a mish-mash of ineffective, time-consuming activities, as shown by the below word cloud from research conducted by Firejuice.
|What is your biggest frustration with marketing?|
A clear marketing strategy provides smaller businesses with a way to penetrate the market given a set of (often hefty) constraints. You simply don't have the option of bulldozing your way through to the customer like a large company can. The problem is that an effective strategy requires sacrifice, which entrepreneurs notoriously hate to make given their nature to hunt opportunity. The result is that few entrepreneurs enjoy doing marketing, preferring to rather stay in sales mode, which inevitably limits the growth of the company.
Despite being a painful exercise due to those sacrifices, a solid marketing strategy does not have to be complicated. It requires you to decide what you want to say (and not say); whom you want to say it to (and whom you'll skip) and what tools you'll use (and not use). By channelling your marketing investment, through a strategy, you give yourself a fighting chance to reach your market.
Marketing within these businesses is typically random exercises obsessed with social media and website tricks that end up being a mish-mash of ineffective, time-consuming activities...
Many SMEs hit a growth plateau prematurely because they are unable to scale the mountain that is proper marketing. This is a pity, especially since the slowdown in growth is entirely self-inflicted. There is plenty of unreached customers, and the competition is still a distant thought, but because the business is unable to incorporate strategic marketing into its sales funnel, it suffers a chronic shortage of awareness and interest.
When done correctly, the introduction of a strategic marketing plan allows a business to make an upwards turn towards continued growth. This turn hinges on the fundamental ingredient that strategic marketing brings to a company - a primary focus on the customer, instead of the internal operations. By bringing the customer to the decision-making table through a disciplined approach on customer research, user experience, product innovation, value propositions, graphic design and robust points of difference, the business gets to burn the second stage of its growth rocket.
Reaching (new) customers is indeed a good reason for investing in marketing, especially for a business that has not yet achieved its mature phase. However, success does not happen easily. Merely appointing someone junior to post a few things to social media and "make some noise" will likely result in the very frustrations highlighted by the above word cloud. You need to be strategic, which means you need to be deliberate and focused and disciplined.
In short, you need to do strategic marketing to see marketing results.
Strategic marketing is the solution to marketing reach. Try it.