A couple of years ago Will, the owner of a trades business asked me to help him put together a marketing strategy that was right for his business. Despite being fully booked for the next 4 months, he didn’t have a lot of spare cash and his promotional budget was small. Nor did he have the time to spend on marketing. HOW TO KNOW WHICH MARKETING CHANNELS WILL WORK FOR YOUR BUSINESS?

His challenge was to increase the visibility of his company and win more business as cost effectively as possible – whilst working at full pelt to deliver orders on time.

Search engine marketing and paid advertising were way out of Will’s budget. And in any event his website wasn’t want you’d want to drive paid traffic to. Instead of going down the online route which would have cost Will between £500 and £1,000 a month, we looked for simple, cost-effective ways he could increase visibility and bring in more business.

What worked really well was this. Will had his vans sign-written. Every day, these were seen being driven around the neighbourhood. He displayed a large sign prominently outside the premises where his teams were working. His team were smartly dressed at all times in branded t-shirts and/ or hoodies, and they kept the site neat and tidy. And he placed an advertisement in a popular local magazine which had high brand loyalty.

As my client became more known in the neighbourhood, local people took notice and approached him directly about their projects. For every job his team was working on, my client won a further two to three projects, just by being more visible. His financial outlay was relatively modest, but the return on his investment was significant. Better still, every time his team started work in a new location, he replicated this same approach with similar results.

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There are any number of promotional strategies, so how did I know which combination would deliver such great results for my client? Here are three ways we decided which marketing channels would work.

1. We Doubled Down On What Was Working Already

As the saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Will was a popular member of a business networking group and routinely received 2 to 3 referrals every week. Relationship building as a marketing strategy worked well for him. However his conversion rate wasn’t as high as it could have been. We focused on making sure his sales process worked as smoothly and efficiently as possible so that he converted more leads.

Once Will’s team had completed a job, at my suggestion he sent the client a handwritten ‘thank you’ card and small gift. He also asked his client for a review and/ or testimonial he could use as social proof. He also sent a handwritten card to customers at Christmas. These actions frequently led to further word of mouth referrals.

Which marketing strategies deliver the best results for your business? How could you optimise these to deliver even better results?

2. We Analysed What Established Competitors Did Well

If a business has successfully established itself, then it’s cracked its promotional mix. Find out how successful businesses in your niche have gone about launching and establishing their business. Then evaluate whether their approach will work for your business, with your resources, in these particular circumstances and times.

In the case of my client, I’d noticed two other trades businesses using a similar approach in the London borough where I lived at the time. Every time I walked into the town centre, I saw multiple references to these businesses. Whether this was their sign-written vans, or their display boards, or their staff working outside. They were everywhere! Because these businesses were so popular, this made me think they must have satisfied customers.

Neither of these businesses used any print advertising, and in this instance were missing a trick. Placing an advertisement in a popular local magazine with high brand loyalty further helped to increase brand awareness, and Will had customers call him after seeing his advert.

Which marketing channels do your competitors use with success? Are you missing a trick by not using any of these channels? Could you steal a march on your competitors because they’re ignoring an important channel?

3. We Considered The Pros and Cons Of The Six Marketing Channels

When it comes to marketing your business, there are 6 key channels:

  • Advertising;
  • Direct marketing;
  • Personal selling;
  • Public relations;
  • Relationship building and;
  • Sales promotions.

Each channel has its pros and cons. The trick is to consider each channel in turn and evaluate its pros and cons in relation to your business and your particular goals. And then to decide on the right combination for your business - and your budget.

My own promotional mix is a combination of relationship building and PR. I rarely use advertising, because as I explained in my previous article, given my business model, it’s an expensive way of acquiring leads with a low conversion rate and poor return on investment. But if I were to add a digital product into the mix, then I almost certainly would introduce advertising into my marketing mix.

Have you considered the pros and cons of the different marketing channels, and which ones really are best for your business?

Finally, We Followed The Marketing Rule of 7

The marketing rule of 7 says that a potential buyer has to see or hear our marketing messages at least seven times before they’ll seriously consider buying from us. This is because our target market is being bombarded by hundreds of messages a day. But only a select few messages penetrate their consciousness. And of these, an even smaller percentage will act.

So if, like Will, you deliver your message in multiple ways, you increase your chances of reaching your target market. Will made sure his business was highly visible in the local areas where his teams were working and he already had a customer. As a result, his message penetrated the consciousness of people who wanted similar work doing, and he acquired further customers from the local area.

Question: Have you struggled to work out the best marketing channels for your business? Have you used marketing channels which in retrospect weren't right for your business? I love reading your feedback so please do take a moment to share in the comments box below.

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Denyse WhillierComment