Some realities you have to come to terms with, as an entrepreneur of an SME( small medium enterprise) is that you start out being the CEO, secretary, sales man, marketing manager all rolled in one. The reasons for this is not far fetched, you are trying to avoid extra overhead thereby conserve capital and profit. As the business grows, things start to fall in place. Sometimes however, a few basic things in the marketing area slip through the cracks and are hardly fixed. Putting a few marketing basics in place might just be the game changer in your business both as a start up or an existing business. You want to be taken seriously by potential customers and consumer.
SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) are always looking for creative ways to market their businesses without elaborate funding. Some believe without big budget plans, they cannot provide the type of visibility their business needs. There are some simple marketing tools SMEs can employ to grow their business. Applying some of the tips suggested in this article can actually increase the speed of getting your business noticed.
The assumption at this stage is that your value proposition is well defined and you know exactly what business you are in. You have in place your customer segment, distribution channels, customer relationship plan, revenue stream, key resources for operations, key activities your business is involved in, key partners and cost structure of your business. What I have found out is that sometimes even this is not very clear but it is highly recommended that each section is well defined before proceeding.
Now here are the 5 basics marketing tools to consider;
Your Business Card: Business cards are like billboards. They tell you the story in a few tasteful words. The purpose of business cards is to provide your contact with information about you and your company for subsequent follow up. Essential information here should be the name of your organisation, your name, contact email, phone number and website if you have any. The purpose of the card is not to detail out what you do. There is room on your website or your other marketing materials to do that. The question to ask is, “if I do not meet this contact again, is he/she likely to call me?” This then means that you should take some time to design your business card to be memorable. Use a professional if you have to. The Internet is also a great source of inspiration for card designs. Keep it memorable but simple.
Your Email Contact: Whilst it might not be necessary to have a website at the start of your business, the setting up of an email address is a must have. In addition to using this platform to contact your potential customers you will find it useful to communicate what your company does particularly if you have a tag line in your email signature. You should have a dedicated email for business separate from your personal email. Each time I sign off on my mails I try to communicate briefly what my company ENTOD Marketing does which is … “provide local consumer/trade insights for international markets.” You can also include your social media platforms in your email signature where potential and current customers can continue to engage with you.
Your brand logo: Your logo should communicate some essence of your company/business either in the choice of color, illustration, font type used or images. The question you want to ask is do I have a strong enough brand logo to stand me out of the pile of cards my contact will most likely have on their desk? Certain colors connote specific things in some cultures. Red may signify evil in some cultures so you want to be sure if this ‘issue’ could negatively affect your brand in the culture you are operating in. These and many more are some of the details to be considered in designing your logo and selecting your brand elements in general. Again do not hesitate to employ the services of an expert as this will be beneficial in the long run.
Your Online presence: The use of the online medium to promote businesses is one of the greatest things that happened to SMEs. Whilst some SMEs have discovered the use of the Internet to grow their businesses many have been slow in adopting this platform. A simple but effective tool is the use of online directories. Get your business registered on major business directories to make finding you easy. Getting a website or being on social media platforms may not be necessary at the beginning but again it depends on what business you are into. If you are running a fashion or food business then Instagram and Facebook for example are necessary. It is amazing how much information you can gather about consumers and customers online. You will quickly get to know what is liked or disliked about your products or services, so you can improve quicker.
Your 60 seconds elevator pitch: We operate in a competitive world today and the attention span of potential customers has become even shorter. What would you like to tell this potential customer about your product/company, which is different from already existing ones? Craft your speech and ensure you have your key value proposition and differentiation from others in your industry. This has to be captured succinctly and convincingly in 30-60 seconds.
SMEs hold the key to fast economic growth and will continue to help reduce unemployment. To be able to run an SME effectively the business has to be professionally managed. Applying simple cost effective marketing tools can help turn things around.