25 Jun Protecting your Business: Marketing as a Defense Mechanism
As we continue to see modifications in Google seach rankings and how marketing can be established across a variety of channels, it becomes more difficult for SMB companies to ratchet up marketing activity. Recent data from a survey conducted by Aweber on small business marketing budgets for 2013 unveiled that that a great majority of companies surveyed plan on increasing activity across 9 of the 12 identified top marketing channels. The only areas with decreased activity include in-person networking, tradeshows and print. It’s crystal clear that social media, email marketing and content is receiving a large amount of attention in order to drive business growth, brand awareness and lead generation.
The challenge remains for small and mid-sized companies to keep up the pace while acquiring resources to compete effectively. A company’s awareness and presence in a market can explode if the budget for marketing is large enough to sustain the push across all of these channels. However, many SMB companies aren’t able to maintain large budgets, and end up losing traction to competitors with deeper pockets. Your company may lack appropriate funds, but there are some tactics that can be played out in order to defend your position against the moving trends.
- Re-optimize your website for industry authority. If your website copy or design hasn’t been updated in the past 4 years, your business is way behind the curve. New prospects should be able to find you through search engines and be able to clearly understand your business and it’s position against competitors. Most companies would be quite surprised at how their website can be improved in order to create more authority as a leader in an industry. A simple audit on web copy can prove to be a great exercise in improving competitive rankings and defending a company’s position in a marketplace.
- Create and execute a Content Plan. Content is king in 2013 and for the foreseeable future. If you aren’t currently managing a content plan with a publishing schedule, it’s time to get started. Even if the plan is bare bones, it’s a great start. Content is the center of inbound marketing and lead generation activity. Without it, your brand is at risk of living in the dark ages and handing over valuable leads to your competition.
- Dabble in social media, even if you believe that there is little ROI. Marketing doesn’t always need to be cost justified; sometimes the littlest of activity is required just to stay alive. Your company doesn’t need to be represented on all social media platforms, however, it’s likely that a large percentage of your business or consumer audience is listening in at least one of the top 4 channels (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+). Find the one where your buyer personas are most likely to be hanging out, and then put a plan in place to be consistent in your activity. Don’t try to do it all at once unless you are prepared to maintain the presence. You are better off being good at one than mediocre at many.
- Integrate an email marketing plan to the mix. Email marketing can come in a variety of formats. It’s not always the case that your email has to be pretty, well designed, and full of links. Sometimes, messages are better stated in fewer words. If your CRM is full of prospects and your mailing list is well managed, you can start small and make traction with intermittent touch points. An email marketing strategy doesn’t always require a weekly update of information; it can be just as effective with small bite-sized messages on an infrequent basis.
Standing on the sidelines is the wrong answer. Outreach programs and outbound selling may still be a great way to stay in front of prospects and clients, however, buyer behaviors continue to dramatically change making it more difficult to sell through traditional methods. Inbound marketing and awareness of your business will continue to be largely dependent on content generation, social media and search engine optimization. If your marketing budget is non-existent, at a minimum, implement a few of these defense mechanisms in order to stay in the game.
Kevin O’Brien is a Co-Founder and Partner at echogravity. Kevin’s credentials include being a top recruiter for a international Big 8 consulting firm, top business development rep for a global consulting and staffing firm, and consulting with over 100 companies across North America.