Let�s talk� marketing for SMEs

We asked Katie Rigarlsford, SME Ambassador for the Chartered Institute of Marketing and Regional Development Manager at Leeds Beckett University Business Centre to answer the top six questions the LEP’s Growth Service get asked about marketing. Read on for top tips and useful insights from Katie about all things marketing...

1. Why is marketing important?

Without marketing, your business may offer the best products or services in your industry, but none of your potential customers would know about it. I love good marketing because it makes sales easier.

2. What is the best way to find new clients and customers?

There are various ways to reach new customers, including through your website, advertising, networks and referrals, for example with other related products or services. We do a lot of work with SME clients and for a business getting started then online advertising and making use of low cost social media activity can offer a good start.

3. What messages should we use to engage new customers?

A key part of successful targeted marketing is to clearly understand your target audiences and their needs. You then need to determine the right way to engage with them, for example are they more likely to find out about your business online or by reading the local paper? The messages should be relevant and clearly explain the benefits to your target audience. They should be simple, concise and make you stand out from the crowd.

4. What kind of marketing do I need to do and what will have the biggest impact?

Putting together a marketing plan takes a bit of time and effort. You have to make decisions on who you think your target customers are, then gather and analysing data about their consumer habits.

When planning your activities, here are my top tips for effective marketing activities on a reduced budget:

  • Find out as much as possible about your potential customers, are they from a specific geographic location or certain age for example?
  • Look at what your competitors are doing and how they advertise
  • Find out what searches generate results on Google and then use the information to do cost effective targeted online advertising
  • Build your presence on social media and always be responsive when people engage with you
  • Build your business networks and look for partnership opportunities and share your expertise
  • Use your personal brand to enhance reputation and credibility

A great example of low cost marketing that I saw recently was by the Piece Hall in Halifax. They used white painted images sprayed on the pavements around the town directing potential customers towards the new Piece Hall.

5. How can we find a marketing company that is trustworthy and has a good reputation?

I always like to go by referrals and if not to look at client testimonials that they might offer. If you are looking to create a digital marketing campaign with them, then what sort of success have they been able to generate for other clients and how can they develop a strategy to achieve success for your business? Whilst cost is important it is also vital to find people that you feel you can trust with your brand and that you want to work with.

6. What is digital marketing and how can we use it?

Digital marketing includes websites, email marketing, social media and online advertising. It can be used to drive sales for a business and it is really effective because it can be so highly targeted. Analytics reporting can also make it much easier to understand and connect with your target customers so it offers a really cost effective marketing method. We use social media and online marketing quite extensively to keep costs down and increase sales.

Digital marketing is great for smaller businesses as well that want to target local sales. A recent study showed that companies that focus on online marketing tactics have a 61% lower cost-per-lead than traditional marketing methods. Combining digital marketing and traditional marketing activities can have some great results.

Support to help your business grow

To find out more about the support available to help your business grow, contact the LEP Business Growth Service on 0113 348 1818 or email businessgrowth@the-lep.com