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One of the key challenges facing a small business is how to approach their marketing, especially as there are so many different ways of reaching their target audience. Guy Robertson has more than 30 years’ experience managing and creating compelling marketing communications for scores of organisations across every industry sector. Here he sets out his ten top tips to help you get the most out of your marketing communications budget.

First off though, what is marketing communications? In very simple terms it means presenting the key business messages to the right people, at a time and place when they will be most receptive, in a manner that will cause them to think, feel and DO what best achieves your business objectives. Sounds easy I know, but that simple statement requires a lot of ducks to be in line!

1. Set clear objectives. Why are you doing this? Is it to bring in new customers, to build loyalty, to develop your brand image, to change perceptions, to launch a new product, to support your sales staff? Be crystal clear here, if you don’t know where you’re going you’ll end up somewhere else!

2. How do you look? Think of your logo as the flag and your brand as the ship. Branding, in its true sense, is not primarily about the name or logo or even about marketing. It’s what a business stands for, through everything it does. The brand needs to be delivered consistently through your customer relations, website, advertising, literature, social media and PR; they should all be inspired by the unique and distinctive proposition the business stands for.

3. Know your key proposition. Keep this simple. Keep this single minded. And keep it plain.
A great tip for proposition writing is to do the ‘lift test’. Imagine you’re waiting for a lift on the third floor of a building. As the doors open a customer is standing in the lift. You know their need. You know your solution. You’ve got 10 seconds to express both in a single sentence before the lift reaches the ground floor. What are you going to say that makes them reply “That’s very interesting. Tell me more?”

4. Customers buy benefits, not features. You may well have the latest telecommunications technology or use the finest quality widgets but the customer doesn’t care. They want to know how your product or service will BENEFIT them and satisfy their need.

5. Know your competitors. Who else might the target market choose to buy from and why? Use that information to emphasise your strengths and negate your weaknesses.

6. Know your target market. “The consumer is not a moron, she’s your wife” An old saying but as true in today’s market as it was in the 1950s. It is vital you know who you wish to reach with your message and equally vital you treat them as people, not a number.

7. Choose your media wisely. With so much choice from local press to radio, from online to social media and outdoor to viral it is vital you combine your objectives and key proposition to select the most cost effective way of reaching your target audience. Don’t be tempted by cut price offers or “the latest thing!”

8. What is the Call to Action? How do you want the target audience to respond to exposure to your marketing message? (E.g. trial, buy, help develop, become an advocate for, call, email, write, go to, ask, etc.)

9. How will you measure success? What outcomes are you looking to achieve and by when? Number of phone calls. Industry awards. Number of sales? Number of hits on website showing interest in product?

10. Use a professional. You may be a great hairdresser, lawyer, builder or restaurateur but you may not be an expert in marketing. So if you are consumed with the day to day challenges of working IN your business let Google be your friend and find an appropriately experienced marketer to help you.

About the author

Guy Robertson is an independent marketing consultant.

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