Marketing tips for SMEs
- Referrals – this is the simplest and most powerful medium of getting new business. Ask your existing customers to refer you to their friends. Some will do it on their own, proactively, while some others will refer you only when asked by someone else. Both types of referrals are extremely valuable since more than half your job is already done by the referer. Trust, which is a vital part of any sale, is already built and you just need to agree on the commercial terms. You may like to reward your existing customers for a successful referral, to encourage them to refer more, or you may just like to send in a thank-you note. Remember to acknowledge and thank the referer always.
- Social Media – Use the Social Media effectively to widen your reach. When using Social Media, be careful not to publicize your product or service aggressively. Promote yourself by being an expert on the subject and offering to help. The more your family and friends perceive you to be an expert in your chosen field, the more likely they are going to do business with you. Use Facebook, LinkedIn and your own personalised blogs to spread the word. Use these media intelligently, to drive the traffic to your own website.
- Visibility – Here again, the idea is to promote yourself as an expert. Join a Chamber of Commerce or a Trade Association or a Networking Group and participate actively in its activities. Speak on the topics of your interest e.g. if you are in the Plastics Field, you can join a Plastic Manufacturers Association and give lectures, submit papers and lobby for the industry, which will get you quoted in Trade and General newspapers and magazines. Write articles in Magazines and Newspapers. The more you are known as a Plastics expert, the more people will turn to you for business.
- Retain Customers – It is much more difficult and costly to get new customers as against retaining your existing customers. Pamper them, handle them with care and give them a bit more than their money’s worth. Implement a good Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system to follow up on leads, service and outstandings. Wish them on special occasions. Do all that you do for your family and they will be a part of your family and will stay with you for life.
- Mailing Lists – Use mailing lists sensibly. Send mailers to your customers, friends, prospects and relatives. Pass on information selectively about the trends in your industry, new developments, etc. Use the 80-20 rule – Talk about your industry 80% and your own brand 20%. Mailers should not be too frequent and boring to be deleted on the spot, nor too far apart for the receiver to lose interest. Mailers should be made so interesting and valuable that the addressees should be looking forward to receiving the next one !
- Advertising ? Advertising is one of the most costly and least remunerative methods of promoting yourself. In current times, owing to media clutter, the reader involuntarily switches his mind off the ads and relies more on recommendations and referrals. However, if you need to cast the net wide and your target audience is well identified with a particular medium, you may just want to try it out.
- Be Ready – Above all, be ready with a brief overview of your business and its need. In a social meeting with friends or unknown people, if someone asks you – “What do you do and how can I help you ?” you should be ready with a 60 second pitch about yourself, your product / service, your immediate past achievements and your current needs. Keep practicing this pitch over and over – it should not sound rushed (don’t try and pack 5 minutes of info in 60 seconds ! ), but should be clear and concise.
Most of the above does not involve any heavy investment in terms of money. But they do require time to plan and execute effectively. Here again use the 80-20 principle – plan 80% and execute 20%, and you will reap rich rewards. Happy Marketing !