Marketing: Reach your audience without blowing the budget
Ruth Amos and David Standing at 2016’s Trade Days shared their experiences and insights into how to reach target audiences using new and traditional methods and it may not cost as much as you think.
Ruth, Managing Director of StairSteady, gave a number of helpful tips for taking advantage of free advertising, focusing on how free advertising can help SMEs compete with big industry players with larger advertising budgets. She shared her own experiences of starting StairSteady with only £1,200 and the need to get her new product noticed.
“We don’t have hundreds of thousands of pounds’ worth of marketing budget, so I’m still creative with how we get our message out,” she told the audience, “so one of the key things is looking at awards and campaigns within the industry. Entering them and working with different initiatives gives us a platform to tell people who we wouldn’t normally be able to reach about our products. Importantly, a lot of these organisations have their own press teams as well.
“Some of StairSteady’s best opportunities have come from winning awards, such as Young Engineer of Britain or a British Healthcare Trade Award. These also led to some of our best press, with articles in various major newspapers including the Guardian and Daily Mail. I even had a customer hand me a cut out of our Daily Mail article from four years previous; she kept it pinned on her noticeboard for when she needed us.”
Ruth explained that these may not always be quick wins, although occasionally you can have a piece of press that goes viral overnight but are essential raising brand awareness. She stressed this works when engaging with local initiatives as well as national ones.
“What are the local initiatives going on in your area? We have had dealers work with local fundraising days and get good local press. It’s about creating those stories to help push your product or business, that is free advertising. And it can sometimes be more powerful when people read about you in an article than seeing an advert.”
As well as free advertising from the press, Ruth also discussed the potential social media and new online technologies hold for the industry. She was keen to highlight that there is a significant difference between people engaged on these platforms and people who use the products.
“If I think of my average user, that person may not be the person on Twitter or Facebook,” said Ruth, “however it could be their daughters or sons who are on these platforms. They will see the product and get it in front of our users.
“I see some of our dealers that are fantastic on social media and really growing a following. Spring Chicken is a good example, and they have built an amazing Facebook following by staying relevant to their audience, being creative and really engaging.
“My advice is not to choose too many platforms; pick the ones you want to go at and really focus on doing them effectively. Is it Twitter and Facebook, or is it something more visual like Pinterest or Instagram.”
David Standing, CEO of Accordant Partners, shared similar sentiments in his session ‘Generating more business from Facebook’, with both speakers pointing out the potential of highly targeted advertising options available on social networks.
“Become very focused on who your perfect prospect is. Do not spend another penny on selling or marketing until you have really honed what this person looks like.” David Standing
David highlighted a number of online resources that can dramatically increase traffic to websites, including Facebook, Google Adwords and its free Keywords Planner tool which gives users detailed statistics about each keyword, as well as LinkedIn’s premium account for B2B engagement.
“All of these channels are queuing up to sell you traffic. If you think you have a traffic problem, you don’t. The targeted traffic is out there.”
One social media advertising platform often overlooked which David was keen to tell the audience’s about was YouTube.
“YouTube is the Wild West opportunity open to all and one of the best options available to reaching your targeted audiences in a fresh and innovative way. The beauty of the ads is you only ever pay when someone clicks on it or if they watch an advert longer than 29 secs, meaning you can get a really cost effective, unique campaign.
“It’s not hard to produce a video and the majority of you have a device in your pocket which is more than capable of producing an HD video. Plus, there are lots of free, online software available that allow editing those videos to create your own YouTube ads. You can then serve your ads before, during or after videos that have some relevance to your perfect prospect.”
Perhaps David’s most important point, and one that was echoed throughout Ruth’s session, was the importance of knowing your audience.
“Become very focused on who your perfect prospect is. Do not spend another penny on selling or marketing until you have really honed what this person looks like” urged David.
“Understanding your perfect prospect informs how you are going to speak to them, what tone of voice you will use and where you will find them. What are their goals, values, objections to sale, role in the purchase process, where do they get information about decisions?
“Once you know this, you can maximise the effectiveness of the targeting options available.”