Wednesday, 5 September 2012

HELP....I need somebody!
HELP...not just anybody!

Austerity.  If I hear that word one more time I might just have to scream.  It’s on almost every news bulletin, in almost every business article and is so engrained in my mind I even felt compelled to start my own blog with it!

None of us needs reminding that we’re in hot water, economically speaking.  The question is not what we can do about the situation but what we can do despite it.  Where can any of us turn when resources, grants and government backed schemes for small businesses are melting away faster than a scoop of vanilla ice cream on a hot apple pie?

As a marketing professional myself, it’s no surprise that I rate marketing as a priority area.  But despite, or perhaps because of, my professional bias, I feel strongly that new and small businesses don’t, in general, pay sufficient heed to marketing.  I’ve been lucky enough to see some excellent marketing theory turned into even more excellent practice, but I’ve also seen some mammoth blunders!  It’s my belief that even those lucky enough to get work via word of mouth or from a regular and stable client base must examine their marketing practice all the time.  Why?  Because there are always hungry competitors out there waiting to pounce.

So where can businesses turn for marketing advice when times are tight and cash is strapped?  Here are my thoughts:

-           The Chartered Institute of Marketing (the professional body that champions best marketing practice in the UK) has heaps of information in the knowledge centre on its website –  You’ll have to register if you’re not a CIM member and want to download survey results or white papers. 

-           Buy a book!  A book on marketing theory may sound dry as the Atacama Desert but it will be invaluable.  You don’t have to read it cover to cover (no one’s asking questions afterwards!) but dip in and out and you’ll discover some fascinating stuff that will help you spend your limited marketing budget wisely.  ‘Sticky Marketing – Why everything in marketing has changed and what to do about it’     by Grant Leboff gives a good background to modern marketing, but it’s just one of many accessible books.

-           Open your eyes!  Question what you’re doing, why you’re doing it and what the likely effect will be.  Look at your competitors and try to evaluate their actions.  Get to know your customers; find out where they are, what they’re doing and what you can do for them.  Once you know that, you’re on the marketing road to success.

-           Recognise when you need professional help.  Damaging a brand is easy.  Rectifying that damage is lengthy and costly at best, impossible at worst.  If you engage professional help from a business advisor or marketing consultant look for appropriate qualifications from bodies such as the CIM and/or a business accreditation and quiz them about their own business experience.

Questions about marketing?  If so, post them here.

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