Time to review your marketing?

19th of July 2019
Time to review your marketing?

The world is your oyster…you have never had such an array of channels for marketing your products or services. Your dilemma is deciding which ones are right for your business. Hartley Milner enlists the help of a professional guide to get you through the marketing maze.

When did you last review your marketing strategy? This year, last year, the year before or do you simply make time as the whim takes you? The answer should be as frequently as possible to make sure your campaign remains on course, according to marketing consultant Dianne Bushell.

“Failing to do so risks giving ground to your competitors and, horror or horrors, losing customers to them,” she warns.

The challenge of ensuring a marketing strategy remains fresh can be daunting for smaller businesses working to constraints on their budget, time and staff resources. So it is important they develop tactics and channels that will most efficiently maximise their customer reach.

You will already have a clear vision of your customer base in terms of geographic location, demographic make-up and where they fall on your value table. But how much do you know about the channels they use when searching for products and services in your sector?

“Precision marketing provides this insight…it allows businesses to identify their customers’ most favoured shopping platforms, whether digital or offline,” Bushell explains. “Then you can focus your resources on platforms that are most likely to engage your target audience and produce the best results from your marketing. Smartly tailoring your campaign in this way will also make it simpler to manage.

“With so many marketing avenues to choose from, it is all too easy for businesses to find themselves going down the wrong one for them. For example, most people are on Facebook, but if you are selling to a crowd where images are crucial to making purchasing decisions, for things like jewellery, furniture or fashion wear, it makes sense to use visually-oriented sites such as Pinterest, Instagram or Snapchat. Other businesses should get better responses from LinkedIn.

“The same goes for traditional offline marketing. Find the publications your audience reads, the radio stations they listen to and commercial directories they subscribe to. Think carefully before abandoning offline channels you have been using for years if they work for your business. Do not use advertising or other promotional strategies just because they are trendy.”

Social media was once viewed as trendy, but is now a must-have tool for nailing an effective marketing campaign. So which platforms will serve you best? “As a rule of thumb, if you occupy a business-to-consumer (B2C) sector, it is likely to be a combination of Facebook and Instagram, but for business-to-business (B2B) look at LinkedIn,” Bushell advises. “All three now host video…one of the most impactful promotional aids available to business today.”


With 2.38 billion monthly active users worldwide, Facebook provides access to the biggest consumer market out there. Facebook collects a great deal of data on its individual and business users, including what they are looking for, their buying habits, age, gender and interests, social profile and where they are located. All this enables you to target your advertisement at audiences most likely to be interested in your products or services and those you are most keen to reach.

Facebook ads are relatively inexpensive and create and generate leads quickly, so are a winning strategy for small businesses that serve specific geographic areas. Your ads show up instantly and begin attracting leads the moment they go live. There are also tools that enable you to track and analyse your results. Some small businesses claim Facebook gets them around 90 per cent of their new clients.


A relatively new kid on the block, Instagram is emerging as a social networking powerhouse. It has one billion active global users each month, of which 80 per cent follow a business on its platforms. Instagram allows users to publish photos as well as short video clips. Studies show that people remember 80 per cent of what they see and only 20 per cent of what they read. This presents great opportunities to businesses.

The best thing about using Instagram is that you can grow your followers organically. This means you can increase your client base without paid advertising. What is more, you can use the platform as a gateway to your business website by simply posting a link for your followers to click on. And, vice versa, browsers who see a gallery of your Instagram photos on your website can click on a link to your Instagram account and start following you there.


LinkedIn is the largest business network, with more than 26 million users, nearly 80 per cent of which are decision-makers for their companies. Unlike other social media platforms, it is geared solely around creating professional and business connections. LinkedIn is also the most popular platform for marketing content such as videos and podcasts, ebooks, infographics, blogs, posts and case studies. All help promote your brand and drive traffic and leads to your businesses.

But of all you can do on LinkedIn building a bespoke company page should be central. It is the face you present to others in the business world. On your page, you can profile your company, provide information that sets you apart from your competitors, target local or global audiences and spotlight your products, services or promotions. Plus you can optimise how search engines find and rank your brand, and track how your company and the content you share on your page are performing.


People find video more engaging, informing and memorable than any other kinds of content. Including it in your website and social media will increase the chances of your target audience finding you when searching for a supplier in your sector. The three main types are storytelling videos that present the company, its story and employee profiles; animated explainer videos that offer ‘how to’ advice on solving problems and third party testimonial videos endorsing products or services.

But is video really feasible for small businesses? “Absolutely,” says Bushell. “Production costs have fallen significantly over recent years and you no longer need to be a technical whiz to work out how to use it. Collaboration with a professional studio is still the best way forward as you can draw on their creativity and expertise. However, if someone in your team is an accomplished video hobbyist, the web is full of pay-for or free tools to help you create videos and animations. But remember…creativity is key.”


While continuing to march on apace, digital lags behind in at least one important area…trust. Research in the UK last year showed that 75 per cent of smaller business trusted offline more than online. The main reason was that they often felt whatever they read on the internet has been tailored to manipulate and deceive them. There were also concerns about the rising threat of
cyber crime.

The trust issue is helping drive not exactly a revival but perhaps a tailing off in the decline of print marketing. It was certainly a factor for many of the 98 per cent of UK businesses that said they would continue to use print as part of their marketing mix for the ‘foreseeable future’.

“Small businesses with a local focus can build their customer base by advertising and promoting their products or services through nearby outlets,” Bushell continues. “Options include local papers, leafleting campaigns, sponsoring events, chamber of commerce activities or local networking. Regional radio is a frequently underrated yet highly cost-effective way to reach an audience.

“In addition, niche and trade magazines in your sector, local press and public relations can help increase awareness, for example through press releases and event sponsorship. Exhibitions are another channel to consider, especially for B2B marketing. They help establish your business among your peers, building brand awareness and enabling face-to-face contact with buyers.

“The ideal marketing strategy is one that combines both online and offline methods, which means that all bases are covered and you will not end up missing out on any one particular demographic.”

So how can you find out where people go to search for a product or service in your sector? Bushell says: “The single most important step you can take is to contact your existing customers to find out how they first heard about you. Did they stumble across your website while searching for something online? Was it an ad you placed in a local publication? Did someone on your mailing list forward one of your emails to them?

“Record what you find and you should see some patterns emerging. It is very unlikely that your customer base will be equally distributed across all of your marketing activities. Some activities will have produced more customers than others, so those are the ones that you should prioritise. One of the most common marketing mistakes that small businesses make is spreading their resources too thinly instead of focusing on a few proven tactics.”


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