You may not have the spending power and resources of the marketers at the top end of town, but you can (and should!) adopt their big picture mindset. Here’s how.
With their deep pockets and access to all kinds of expertise, big business marketers inhabit a different universe to small business owners. So, it might be tempting to think big business marketing has nothing to teach you.
In reality though, there are strategies, disciplines and thought processes deeply embedded in standard big business marketing practice that most small business owners overlook – at their peril.
Here’s an overview of the four most important of these. I encourage you to steal them and adapt for your own purposes.
1. Know your objectives
Too often small businesses take a scattergun approach to marketing. They try things because it worked for a friend, or because they saw it in a webinar.
On the other hand, it’s very rare for a big business marketer to do anything without first knowing their objectives.
Getting into the habit of asking ‘What do I want to achieve?’ before embarking on any form of marketing leads to good strategic decision making about:
- The type of marketing activity and messages you need,
- The optimal times and places for the material you create to appear, and
- The amount of money its worth spending to reach your goal.
Marketing material that’s created without this forethought rarely hits the spot as effectively.
2. Play the long game
In a corporate environment, most marketing plans are built out at least three to six months before the start of the financial year in which the activity will take place and include an indication of the money and resources required to execute them.
In contrast, few small business owners I speak to take a long-range view of their marketing activity. Most look only at the immediate future, or have a vague idea about what they plan to do a month or two ahead.
Many others operate on a feast or famine mentality, only marketing when they’re getting nervous about sales, or when they suddenly find themselves with time or money on their hands.
There are numerous pitfalls to this ad hoc approach to marketing, but chief among them is that its rarely a good use of your time or money, and doesn’t result in a cohesive set of marketing assets targeted at achieving your business objectives.
3. Ensure you’re reaching the right people
Cash-strapped small business owners naturally gravitate towards marketing activity that’s easily affordable. Which means social media, blogging and email newsletters tend to be at the core of our marketing efforts.
Those strategies are great, but even the most captivating marketing material in the world won’t make your cash register ring if it’s not seen by the right people – and enough of them.
If you’re putting lots of time into creating fabulous marketing content but are not getting the results that investment deserves, perhaps it’s because your existing audience is too small or not targeted enough.
That’s why big business marketers invest as much (if not more) time and money in ensuring their marketing material reaches the right audience as they do in its creation.
You can take a leaf out of their book by investing a small amount of money in some highly targeted social media advertising and monitoring the results.
4. Leverage the halo effect
If you offer a range of products or services, it’s important to determine which are best to invest your time and/or money to promote.
In big business marketing, this is done by analysing sales results to determine:
- Which existing products are doing well (and may do even better with a bigger push),
- Which are under-performing compared to their potential, and
- Where there are new opportunities that are worth investing in.
The vast proportion of the marketing budget is then allocated to supporting these ‘hero’ products or product categories.
The brand-building benefits of effective hero product campaigns creates a ‘halo effect’ that trickles down to other products. The rest of the range gets carried along by the momentum created by said hero products, with a minimum of investment.
The mentality tends to be different in the small business arena, with many soloists devoting equal marketing effort to all the products or services they offer.
Instead, try putting a disproportionate amount of your energy into the products that really drive your sales, or the services you most want to offer to your clients.
If you do a good job of weaving strong brand messages into every aspect of this activity, you’re likely to see other aspects of your business grow by virtue of the halo effect.
This is the first in a series of articles on insights that small business owners can learn from big business marketers. Keep your eye out for subsequent articles in the series, which go into more depth on determining your marketing objectives, putting an effective marketing plan together, optimising your marketing reach and taking a hero product approach to marketing.
Do you apply big business thinking to your marketing too? Please share what’s worked for you in the comments.