ARE YOU SELLING YOUR BUSINESS SHORT BY NOT MARKETING IT?


Many small business owners in South Africa often put off marketing their business as they don’t believe they have the budget or time for it. Gugu Mjadu, executive general manager: marketing at Business Partners Limited (BUSINESS/PARTNERS), says that this mind-set needs to prudently change as competition for products and services increase year-on-year.


“In a world where consumers’ first point of call to purchase products or service is the internet, it is surprising how little an online presence some small businesses have locally. While there is an expense for developing a website, the rewards far outweigh this initial outlay cost. Apart from a website, businesses can also utilise social media platforms, which are free to sign-up for.”

Mjadu points to the Social Media Marketing Industry Report for 2015 by Social Media Examiner which revealed that by spending as little as six hours per week on social media, more than 66% of business owners saw lead generation benefits.

She adds that while social media strategies and search engine optimisation have become buzzwords, a base of traditional marketing tactics remains as important for small business, such as local advertising spend or events and community networking opportunities.

This time of year offers the ideal period for business owners to reflect on the state of their marketing presence – both online and traditional - and Mjadu points to five marketing areas that business owners should be exploring as we approach 2016:

• Establish a website: It was reported by the Earnest Agency that 81% of business-to-business (B2B) purchase cycles start with a web search and that 90% of buyers reported that they will source their supplier when they are ready to buy via web search. This highlights the importance of a company website that profiles the business and its services so that the audience landing on the website is informed, engaged and ultimately converted into customers.

Investing in a company to design a website and aid in optimising your search engine functions will reap returns for a business. However, should there be budget constraints, there are various free tools available to small businesses, such as South African Business Woza Online.

• Maximise social media strategies: The majority of B2B buyers (85%) believe companies should present information via social networks (Iconsive), however only 20% of Chief Marketing Officers are leveraging a brand’s social networks to engage with its audience. (Marketing Land).

Through social media efforts, business can create a community for engagement, a platform to share company news and updates, as well as a channel to offer customer support. 

Businesses need to however evaluate which platforms are best suited to their audience. For example if the business has a strong visual element, Instagram or Pinterest can be a suitable platform. However, if the product or service is more professional, Facebook or LinkedIn could potentially be more suitable.

• Implement clever email campaigns: 66% of consumers have made a purchase online as a result of an e-mail marketing message (Mark the Marketer). Targeted e-mail marketing campaigns remain one the most effective marketing tools and can assist in converting leads into customers. Businesses should focus on building and keeping an up-to-date mailing list. Tools, such as MailChimp, enable businesses to implementing an email marketing campaign in-house with ease.

• Create local awareness: Public relations (PR) is a powerful tool for local businesses as it helps spread awareness of your business and its expertise, via content generation (or editorial). While some small businesses may not have the budget to outsource this function to a PR agency, it can be implemented on a smaller scale internally.

• Networking: Establishing connections with substance through networking is part of the marketing process, and is vital to businesses of all sizes. Entrepreneurs should set time aside every week to network, including speaking at industry events, as good business relationships don’t just happen overnight.

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