Preparing well to kick-start your small business marketing

When lockdown is a thing of the past and businesses emerge from a period of limited or no trading, well-planned, low-budget marketing activity is going to be more important than ever.

Angela Lawrence, Associate Dean of Staffordshire Business School is a Chartered Marketer and Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing. Here she gives advice to small business owners on what they can do now to effectively kick-start their marketing activity.

This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed by CC-BY-NC-ND

Build your content bank

Have you ever read a great article, seen a clever piece of advertising, admired a good picture or felt a pang of jealousy at a distinctive marketing message that one of your competitors has put out there? Time to get ready to wow your audiences with clever, meaningful marketing messages that stand out in the crowd.

You know your business better than anyone and you probably have a wealth of content that is scattered around in so many places, that you don’t even know the half of what you have. This could be pictures, staff news, blogs, industry news, or even quizzes and fun stuff. Now is a great time to build your content into a bank of resources that can be easily accessed to create some great marketing content. Create a folder to put it all in, use meaningful titles to label your content, so that it is easily identifiable when you need it. This is all about using your time to get organised, so that you don’t have to trawl through all your files for hours to find that one picture that you want, when you need it most.

Understand your competitors

When it comes to marketing, nothing could be more important than knowing your competitors well – after all, you’re trying to attract the same target audience, so it’s always good to be a step ahead.

Take a look at their website, their pricing, their marketing activity. Browse their social media channels – what sort of posts seem to harness engagement and how do they market their products or services?

In the same way that you created a folder to organise your content bank, create another for competitor insights. Gather all the information you can so that you always have a benchmark to refer to when deciding strategic direction for your marketing activity.

Get to grips with your CSR

Who are YOU going to buy from when this pandemic is over? How do YOU want to be seen as a business – greedy, selfish and isolated, or caring, giving and socially conscious? I’d hazard a guess that we have all questioned our purchasing habits these past few weeks and that brand loyalty may be eroded for the likes of Virgin in light of Richard Branson’s approach to the coronavirus crisis.

Now is a good time to consider the social impact of your organisation and whilst it may not be economically viable to provide products or services free of charge, you can still take steps to be seen as an organisation that has a heart. Volunteering within your community is always a good way to make a real impact, consideration of your staff’s wellbeing and flexing working hours to suit childcare arrangements, allowing local charities to use rooms within your premises for meetings – there’s lots that you can do.

Plan, plan, plan!

Now that you know what your competitors are up to and you have all your content neatly organised, you can use this time to plan your marketing strategy for the next 12 months or more. Maybe you need to make adjustments to your website or even plan out a whole social media campaign to ensure that you regularly get messages about your business and your brands out there. There could well be platforms that you have yet to explore for your business – with 3.8 billion social media users worldwide, check out the latest trends in social media usage and make sure you know which platforms are right for you and your customers and prospects.

Undertaking just one of these activities could make all the difference once trade returns to normal – if truth be known, you should be doing all of this, all of the time. So, my advice would be to do something proactive for the good of your business today. Don’t just sit there and wait, do something now and create good habits to support the future success of your business.

Bring yourself up to date with the modern business world, whilst developing and mastering core business competencies by studying for a degree in Business Management at Staffordshire University