This is a question I hear a lot and usually from established companies who have built their client base using traditional methods over a long period of time. By this I mean, some of the older companies I come into contact with sometimes have an MD who is a complete marketing skeptic and he/she usually tells me that they built the company from the ground up via word of mouth over the last 25 years.
Well, I am afraid to say that although word of mouth is a great way to attract new clients, it wont last forever and that is why marketing is a vital activity when it comes to client growth and prospecting. Yes, clients who come to you via a referral are likely to be much “warmer” than others you may attract, but these warm prospects may also expect the exact same service levels as the person who gave them your details and may well even expect the same price structure, same personnel etc. This “history” isn’t always a great thing as it can work against you. i.e. if you did a cheap deal for one organisation and they tell another one, you WILL be expected to match or improve on it!
Without marketing, how does a company get off the ground? How does it differentiate itself from its competition? How does it get noticed? The problem is that no one wants to spend money on marketing! It’s odd as the SME will usually spend money on engaging an accountant. They may also spend money on renting a premise. They will almost certainly spend money on computers, smart phones and IT. But…..when it comes to spending money on marketing, they sometimes think they can do this themselves and will design their own logo online, do their own website, do their own stationery etc. Why??!?!!
The majority of small business owners may well be brilliant at what they do, but it doesn’t man that they have all the skills to market their businesses correctly and. in my experience, cheap can be very expensive. Invest is a key word as that is what marketing it – an investment in the future. Marketing is laying the foundations for success. It’s making sure you are saying the right things in the right way to the right people and it is not a one-off exercise. Marketing is a process; a discipline that, if got right, can make the difference between a business success and a business failure.
So, when I am faced with someone who is anti marketing, my response to the question is this. If you are needing a plumber, where would you look to find one? Almost immediately I am given the answers of “Google” or “in the Dentons Local magazine” or “Facebook or Twitter.”
I rest my case!