Marketing Communications – power to the Small Business
A simple look at the UK economy is all you need to see that small business can compete with market leaders and large international companies. Marketing Communications has for centuries been key for small businesses to compete as underdogs and succeed in winning business and increasing profits against the threat of competition.
Napoleon called the British “a nation of shopkeepers” and 220 years on, that is still the case. We are not a nation of shop managers; we have more small privately owned business than any other nation in the European Union. That means that we have more businesses able to compete effectively against national and international competition.
Small business success comes from their ability to focus on specifics and improve steadily. Britain is a nation where creativity, innovation, consumer demand, loyalty and charity are imbedded in the nation’s genes. It is these traits and people’s ability to hold onto them in business that allowed the Industrial Revolution to take place in the 19th Century and the communications revolution of the late 20th Century. Bristol is a city that understands this more than most. Bristol helped in the production of the Fleet that saw off the Spanish Armada, Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s innovation fuelled the Industrial Revolution and Bristol is one of the leading media production and internet business hubs in the UK today.
Marketing Communications are key to the success of hundreds of thousands of successful small businesses in the UK but this is nothing new either. Communications was the key to England’s victory against the Spanish Armada and helped to defeat Napoleon himself at the Battle of Waterloo. It was Britain’s ability to innovate with computer technology to intercept and understand NAZI communications that helped win the Second World War and keep the UK a free democracy in which small business and private enterprise continues to flourish to this day.
But what links all of these battles to today’s small business marketing approach?
Like small business fighting to grow today, England and the United Kingdom used communications as the key factor in winning despite being the clear underdog.
Today, small business can use effective marketing communications to outwit larger competition, maintain market share and expand their businesses. This can be done using a strategic marketing plan that encompasses both old style marketing practices and online marketing communications.
Four steps to boosting Marketing Communications Effectiveness for Small Business
1. Know Your Customers
Small businesses don’t have the same customer relationship marketing technologies that large chains have. Tesco Club Card and Sainsbury with Nectar Card know at a swipe what customer shopping habits are like, what people buy and tailor offers directly through vouchers and discount offers. Small businesses that know customers on a personal level can do much the same. Using marketing communications to offer discounst on products you know a customer will be interested in when you enter the store does the same job, but it’s personal not computer generated. That means a customer will be more grateful and customer loyalty will be deeper rooted.
2. Find Shared Ideals
Knowing your customers on a personal level means that you develop a better understanding of their likes, dislikes and things that they care about. If you know some of your customers struggle with a particular physical issue such as mobility if you have an elderly customer base, you can support an awareness day that shows you and your business are doing your bit to raise awareness about issues that effect them and that you’re supporting charities they may rely on for support.
3. Engage Your Customers
Engaging customers when they visit you is easy if you’ve got good people skills and like a conversation but communications when they’re not on your premises is a little trickier. One way to do this is to use creative digital content to share through social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. This can help develop your marketing communications plan and deliver greater success through engaging, creative digital content.
There are plenty of services out there to help you create branded, fun graphics that customers and local people can share on social media to boost brand awareness and win local customers to your small business. One such service is Canva – a great new service that allows you to easily create branded graphics promoting sales, special offers and create marketing material as well as infographics and social media posts to share.
4. Know Your Competition
Knowing what your competition is doing in terms of marketing and customer engagement is important. Make sure you’re subscribed to their marketing communications tools such as newsletters and email updates. Is there something that they do that you could do too? For local retailers such as grocers, bakeries, delis and florists, keeping an eye on the nearby supermarkets and matching offers that they run can prevent customers being tempted away. They might also recommend you to friends and let them know that you’re a good small business and provide better products.