Sadie Keljikian, Express Trade Capital
The following is a continuation of our previous article on building a marketing department from scratch when resources are limited.
Step 5: Content rules.
When you start building your marketing materials, remember that content is your best friend, whether it’s material on your website, a guest blog post or article, or any of dozens of other varieties of marketable content. Each variety serves you in a few ways:
At least some portion (i.e. more than one piece of media) of your marketing content should be visually driven. Infographics, videos, even written articles with photos or other visual components (diagrams, graphs, charts, etc.), are enormously helpful in driving traffic and, ultimately, bringing in new business.
This kind of content is usually best left to designers and branding professionals, since it requires an eye for detail and knowledge of effective imagery. However, there are several websites that provide templates and user-friendly design software, allowing those less experienced in design to create effective visual materials.
Although advertising is a good idea, content like blogs and articles should not be sales-driven. Why not? First, regardless of your industry, chances are there is at least one vital area of your business that clients/customers do not understand. Think of the concepts you end up explaining to every client or customer. It doesn’t necessarily have to be complicated; a lot of businesses use language or systems of which customers are simply unaware. Secondly, advertising is typically brief and to the point. The most effective ad campaigns are usually the simplest because readers/browsers don’t want to read a long-form piece with sales-y language. If a reader finds a longer piece online, they are typically looking for information. Thus, the reader will be much more receptive to a piece that gives them the information they seek without trying to sell them on a specific product, service, or business.
Finally, informative content is good for your business’s reputation. The more genuinely valuable information you provide, the more trustworthy your image and the more likely it is that potential clients or customers will actually choose you.
This is where your content can be as sales-oriented as you like. Although longer written pieces should be informatively-driven, advertising materials like brochures, email blasts, and online advertisements like banner ads and Google AdWords are quick and to the point. Advertising materials should always include all important details of your business (name, industry, a phone number, or “contact” link online) as well as at least a few words about what makes your business unique.
As mentioned, the key factor in content like this is keeping things brief. No one wants to read an extensive blog entry or article full of sales language because it invariably ends up boring and repetitive. Less is truly more in this case.
Set bite-sized, attainable goals.
The biggest mistake a lot of small businesses make is expecting too much too quickly. Granted, it can be difficult to know how quickly things should move, especially when you don’t have previous experience in marketing.
While you absolutely shouldn’t waste time, quantity and speed should never take priority over quality of your marketing materials, particularly the content that you plan to distribute on a large scale. Remember that all content you release will represent your business. Make sure everything looks polished and is correct and well-written before you put it out into the world.
Get out there.
Once you’ve got a reasonable amount of marketing materials and feel comfortable with your pitch, don’t be afraid to put yourself and your business out there. It may be scary at first, but contact-based sales techniques (in-person networking, phone calls, emails, etc.) are the most effective in getting you customers. Here are a few ways to get yourself and your brand out there:
This, of course, depends on your industry, but it is an excellent idea to attend relevant trade shows whenever possible. The benefits are numerous: you can meet new customers/clients, network with similar businesses in your industry, look around for marketing tips and tricks, and work on your in-person pitch.
Email blasts and CRM systems are particularly useful if you are in a B2B (business to business, meaning you don’t sell to consumers directly) field. They allow you to contact large numbers of prospects at once and track your progress as they become clients or customers. You should, however, be careful in executing email blasts and/or CRM. Try not to email anyone who hasn’t given you permission. An easy way to make sure that everyone has opted in is to create a newsletter or something similar and allow people to sign up on your website. Carefully choose your email blast/CRM software, as some sites are more likely to end up in your contacts’ spam folders. If you do your homework, this option will serve you and your business well.
Advertising campaigns that are worth running are going to use a significant portion of your marketing budget. This means that you should research all advertising methods thoroughly before you start spending money. Find out what kinds of ads are most effective in your industry and at your level. If you run a pay-per-click campaign, find out how much you need to spend for your ad to get valuable attention without surpassing your budget and keep your eye on the numbers. You should never spend more on advertising than you will reasonably make back in sales. This will obviously take some time and a bit of experience to nail down.
The world of marketing and advertising is intimidating, but if you pace yourself and stay as informed as possible, you can build a solid marketing department and increase your sales enormously. Use your time and resources wisely and don’t be afraid to spend a little extra time and/or money to prepare yourself and your materials.
Click for details on Express Trade Capital’s trade finance solutions.
Contact us for more information.