David vs Goliath – you CAN do it…..

I have heard throughout my life that size doesn’t matter! Similarly, bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better. Well…..when it comes to business, I concur. As an owner of a business with a team of 7, we very much pride ourselves on our reaction times and service levels. We always aim to provide bespoke marketing solutions rather than off the shelf solutions. When I asked a selection of our clients why they approached BMC instead of maybe larger, more traditional “agencies” I was pleasantly surprised to find out the answers.

Below are some of my tips on how a smaller business can not only compete with a larger one, but stand out against them –

1. Always respond to prospects quickly and personally
Smaller companies differentiate themselves from big ones through faster, more in-depth human communication.

My suggestion would be, whether in person or on the phone, respond quickly and personally to a personal approach. Companies of all sizes have adopted automated software for marketing, but relying on automation loses the personal touch that differentiates small businesses from corporations.

2. Don’t solve unique problems with standard solutions.
Big companies tend to try and fit clients into pre-set boxes. Off the shelf solutions are much more costs effective to offer and hence, larger companies will try and predict solutions and have an already made solution.

Smaller companies can be nimble in their ability to customise offerings to match specific needs. Start-ups and/or smaller businesses should take advantage of this by providing more specific service to customers who would fall through the cracks at larger entities.

3. Keep the face of the company familiar.
Bigger companies tend to have big sales teams and lots of people who interact with clients. Small companies have only a few, but this, in my opinion is a strength.  Statistically, maximizing customer satisfaction through a consistent customer journey can potentially increase customer satisfaction by 20% and boost revenue by 15%. Keep the point of human contact as consistent as possible so prospects feel that they’re dealing with a person — not a brand.

While startups use personal service to get in front of clients, big companies invest in technology so they don’t have to. Keep personnel the same through the inquiry, proposal, launch and implementation phases. Customers will feel more valued if they are not being shuffled from one department to the next.

Related: 4 Advantages every Entrepreneur should be using
No matter how much ground big companies cover, they can’t be everything for every customer, and that leaves an opening for startups to survive and thrive. Small companies can leverage their agility, flexibility and creativity to go above and beyond for customers where the big businesses would otherwise get stuck in the mud.

Small companies that focus on building active, solution-forward relationships with customers will find it’s easier to win out against the sluggish big businesses in today’s fast-moving market.

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Marketing. What do I need?

Fact: The marketing sector is huge.

I don’t just mean huge due to the amount of companies and organisations out there to choose from, but also huge due to the actual initiatives that fall under the heading of marketing. For example, networking, social media, design, websites, SEO, PR, advertising, print, exhibitions, webinars are all forms of marketing so where does the average organisation start when it comes to its marketing and how does it find the right company to help?

The answer of what you need is not easy and certainly isn’t set in stone as each organisation is different and may well be at different stages of its life-cycle, but there are certain key elements that you should have in order to present (market) yourself to your prospects. Namely, an identity, a website, business stationery and some sort of mini brochure. These elements lay the foundations for your marketing and should be what you invest in first. I say invest as that is what it should be, an investment. You’re investing in your business and its future.

In terms of the company, well there are loads out there and even platforms where you can design a logo, website etc yourself online. But……before you start, put yourself in the position of a prospect. In order for them to start to think about doing business with you, what impression would they need to have? Do you want a piece of clip art for your logo, a free website template and some sub standard business cards done online on the cheap??! I think not.

Marketing platforms have become incredibly accessible these days, but that doesn’t mean that doing your own website is going to be the right thing to do. You can apply this to any other professional service. Would you write your own Will or cut your own hair or do your own accounts or build your own house or would you seek professional help? I know what I would do!

Similarly, just because you can set up a Linkedin page or a Twitter or Facebook account it doesn’t mean you should. Always ask yourself, “why” am I doing this? These types of platforms are all different and all have different audiences so don’t just link them so that one Tweet goes out across everything. Put time and effort into how you use them and make sure that the content you post is relevant. Linkedin is for businesses. Twitter is social networking and Facebook is more of a B2C platform.

I would not advise investing large amounts of money on just your logo and brand. There are companies who will design you a logo for not a lot of money and others that will charge a fortune so be careful. When Bath Marketing Consultancy sees new companies, we advise them to try and source a single company who can look after everything for them if required; be a sort of custodian for the company. The logistics of sourcing and working with multiple companies to deliver each marketing element can become impossible.

Similarly, if you appoint 1 company to design and build a website, 1 to design a logo etc then that is all you will get; a single deliverable so there are unlikely to be any economies of scale!

As usual, BMC is here if you need any help!

 

Marketing Tools. There are lots on offer.

Marketing is multifaceted. The suite of marketing tools available these days means there are a wide range on offer for you to place what you do in from of clients and prospects. To me, these “tools” can be categorised into 6 key areas which are –

Cold calling (canvassing) – Appointment making rather than selling
PR – This can be press releases and/or public relations
Advertising – Online and offline, both fall under the heading of paid for publicity
Direct Marketing – Not just direct mail but selling direct to customers rather than through a 3rd party
Print – Company brochures and literature
Conferences, seminars, exhibitions – Placing your skills and services in front of an audience

None of the above should be used as a singular entity or a solus route to a successful marketing campaign. In my opinion, all of the above could and should be used when developing a holistic marketing strategy. Each initiative must be used for the right purpose, with the right objective, at the right time, for the right target group.

I appreciate that the 6 above could be added to, but I didn’t include telesales as this is more about making a direct sale over the phone than the Cold Canvassing indicated in my list. There are cross overs between the skills required to sell a meeting and to make a physical sale, but the intrusion factor is quite different!

Similarly, there are other marketing related initiatives such as offering free samples or special introductory price offers and I haven’t included the wonders of client entertainment, but I don’t really feel I have much to offer here. Obviously taking a client or prospect out and plying them with alcohol or food at a sporting event can play a very lubricating role in your sales and marketing process, but it is really a form of bribery!

Think about what your marketing objectives are. These objectives have to be business related. Aiming for a date to retire or an annual turnover figure are more personal objectives really. Once you set your objectives, allocate a budget and a timescale. Plan what you want to do and more importantly why. Not everything you do will be a success so prepare to test activities and remember, you are unlikely to be an expert. There are good companies out there who can help!