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Marketing Tactics

What Should You Cut First When Times Are Tough?

Times are tough, sales are down, is marketing the best way to spend scarce cash?

Ed Hatton

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The economy is limping along and lower sales means having to save costs. The marketing budget is a tempting target for cuts. Developing the company and product brands is a long-term investment, and it’s difficult to show returns on expenditure.

Even lead generating marketing has a time lag between spending marketing funds and bringing in cash from sales. Cost cutting is usually driven by accountants who may have little understanding of customer needs or branding.

Should you cut marketing expenditure? Only as a last resort to ensure survival and then for a defined time, otherwise emphatically no. There are better ways to cut costs. See the July 2016 My Mentor column in Entrepreneur ‘Cutting Costs.’

There is plenty of evidence to suggest that cutting marketing spend in a recession is a seriously bad idea.

Related: 7 Creative Strategies For Marketing Your Start-up On A Tight Budget

A Wall Street Journal study of the last recession showed that companies that cut back on marketing lost sales and market share, while those that held their marketing increased profits compared to those that reduced marketing.

Repeated studies going as far back as the Great Depression have shown the same results. Savings you make from reduced marketing may be more than wiped out by lower sales. You need every sale and every customer you can get in these times.

Some studies have shown that it even pays to increase marketing in bad times. Recessions can be a great time to go on the offensive, to grab customers and market share from competitors.

marketing-techniques-for-cash-flow-management

Efficient marketing

This is the time to get the best effect from every Rand you spend on marketing. Focus on issues that will help your customers to save money, like low maintenance costs, productivity gains, product longevity, and low cost of ownership. Fortunately we live in an age where many marketing options are cheap, easy to use and have measurable outcomes.

Do a multi-pronged approach, with all marketing reinforcing the same messages. Choose your media wisely so you will be seen by key decision-makers in your target markets.

You do not need to change all your marketing campaigns, but do review them and replace ineffective campaigns with more efficient ones. One example of an inexpensive marketing promotion includes a modern website that people see and linger on. This an inexpensive necessity. Check how many people visit your site and how long they stay, then improve those results.

Use Internet banner advertising to add to your database of people who have shown interest and then market to them by making offers directing them to special purpose landing pages. Use email or telesales.

Build your brand with low cost sponsorships or by hosting events with reputable guest speakers. Write thought-provoking articles for the press, a blog or social media to establish credibility. Employ an intern to do the administration for all these ideas and gather information.

The power of repeat sales

Do not ignore your customers. They are potentially your best market for additional business and must be pampered and communicated with to prevent them moving to competitors. Make sure they know all the products and services you offer, and how they can use your products to boost their own sales.

Related: Guru Ed Hatton on Marketing On A Tiny Budget

Special campaigns for customers only can be communicated via closed user groups on the Internet, readable and useful newsletters or personal contact and telephone. Announce special offers and bundled prices exclusively for customers. Increase customer service and support levels.

Your goal should be to hold or increase turnover, or to lose less sales than competitors by marketing intensively but smarter.

Doing this should see you emerge from the recession in a powerful position to use the good times that will inevitably follow the bad. The sales made by this strategy are statistically likely to outweigh any savings you may have made by sales-destroying cuts to marketing.

Ed Hatton is the owner of The Marketing Director and has consulted to and mentored SMBs in strategy, marketing and sales for almost 20 years. He co-authored an entrepreneurship textbook and is passionate about helping entrepreneurs to succeed.

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Marketing Tactics

Your 3 Big Marketing Plays For 2018

Consumers want to know who you are. Enter content marketing.

Greg Tinkler

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I’m a firm believer in content marketing. It’s a long play, but the results speak for themselves if you invest and keep plugging away.

Businesses that have invested in content marketing in recent years are reporting dividends from those investments. For example, more than 60% of B2B marketers reported more effective content marketing strategies than a year ago, showing that constant flow and activity within content marketing will increase ROI.

Factors contributing to that success include better quality content, strategy development, more time spent on content marketing, and better targeting in content distribution.

To maintain this growth, marketers need to keep up with the ever-changing landscape of content marketing.

Here are my three big marketing plays for 2018.

1. Great content is expert-driven

Content marketing is moving beyond blog ideas and articles. There is a move towards a trend in which ideas are constantly improved upon, customised for different audiences, and adapted to new formats consumers are using.

Related: How Content Marketing Adds Real Value To Your Customers’ Lives

Just hiring writers won’t cut it anymore. The content team will need to grow and adapt for the next year and should include people who are talented in:

  • Video production and editing (think TV commercials tailored for Facebook)
  • Graphic design, illustration, and editing (think infographics, animation and ebooks)
  • Audio editing and production (audio articles and podcasts)
  • Content distribution and promotion (Where to place it and how to promote it).

So, invest in your content team, consider outsourcing to specialist agencies and provide constant quality content for your customer base.

2. Influencer marketing keeps yielding results

In 2018 it’s not about whether you include influencer marketing in your marketing mix, but the percentage of your marketing budget you put towards it.

Remember:

  • 70% of millennials trust influencer and peer opinions over traditional celebrities
  • 51% of marketers say video produces the best ROI
  • 86% of women turn to social networks before purchasing
  • 71% of consumers are more likely to purchase based on a social media reference.

If you are in a niche sector, working with micro influencers who have a smaller but higher engagement rate than traditional celebrities might work well for your brand. The key to influencer marketing is someone who is trusted and respected by your target audience.

Related: Content Marketing Strategies You Can Steal

3. Live video is exploding

Marketers and brands are jumping on the train to embrace live video content. Facebook video sees an average of 135% more organic reach than images. The engagement goes through the roof for live video. According to Facebook, users spent three times more time watching live videos than a video that’s no longer live. They also comment ten times more during live videos.

If that doesn’t convince you that you need to adopt live video for 2018, this may:

  • 80% of social media users aged 18 to 35 said they would rather tune into a live video than read a blog post.
  • 82% of those users were more interested in watching live video from a brand than reading social media posts.
  • Start working with live video now — before your competitors do — to engage your audience.

IN YOUR TOOLKIT

create-engaging-contentCreate engaging content

Here are three tools you can use to easily make all kinds of interactive content for your marketing campaigns.

1. Apester

Apester is a tool that allows you to easily create polls, surveys, personality tests, video quizzes, and a whole lot more to engage with your audience. Embed your creations into your regular blog content to create a truly interactive experience.

Go to: apester.com

2. Engageform

Engageform is a super intuitive tool to create quizzes, surveys, and polls. The platform offers an impressive array of visual customisation options to make your content really stand out.

You can also easily embed and share your quiz, survey, or poll on your website or social media. Once people start interacting, you’ll get detailed reports of audience feedback, stats, and lead information.

Go to: 4screens.net/engageform/

3. Vizia

Video is probably the most powerful content type marketers can use. But use a tool like Vizia, and you can take it to the next level. Vizia helps you create more engaging videos by adding questions and quizzes to collect feedback while people watch.

The tool makes it easy to quickly add multiple choice questions, polls, and short answer questions into your videos. Vizia videos integrate everywhere, including blogging platforms, e-commerce stores, and site builders. And the best part? It’s 100% free.

Go to: vizia.co

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Marketing Tactics

How Laughter Can Be Your Gateway To New Business

If you want to make sales, you need to connect with your clients. This is the secret sauce that great marketing gets right, and it has nothing to do with how big (or small) your budget is.

Mike Sharman

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Like most kids, in my final year of high school I had to make a decision about my future; make a call about my career path. My head proclaimed: ‘Law!’ My guts rebelled: ‘Acting, yeah!’

My folks shrieked: ‘Acting? Do you intend on having a mortgage in your own name in your lifetime? You’ll never be able to afford a medical aid.’ Aside, but purposefully audible: ‘He’s never going to move out of home. Is he?’

So, I made a compromise. I studied a Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in marketing communication and when I completed that formality, I chose ‘acting, yeah!’

Google: ‘Acting school Los Angeles’.

Result: TVI Actor’s Studio just outside Hollywood, paid my deposit, packed a large, hard-coated Delsey suitcase and moved to The Valley for six months, to ensure that Future Mike couldn’t resent the decisions made by Past Mike.

Those six months comprised: Drinking sake and barbecuing with Counting Crows’ Adam Duritz while he orchestrated acoustic magic on his guitar; eating home-made chocolate chip cookies baked by the sweet hands of Teri Hatcher when Desperate Housewives was the most popular TV series on the planet; smashing Grey Goose on the rocks during road trips to Vegas, ululating: ‘The Goose is looooooooose’, with my housemate Chris; ordering Animal Style Double Doubles from In-N-Out Burger but, most importantly, falling in love with the natural narcotic of stand-up comedy.

Related: Brand And Marketing: Finding The Balance For SMEs

What. A. Rush. Pit of your stomach sickness, churning from line delivery, converting into convulsions of laughter, or the agony of the opposite side of the spectrum — the silent onstage assassination. Hopefully it’s the former.

Connecting with your clients

Stand-up and marketing are inextricably linked. This premise is how I live my career.

Every meeting is an opportunity to leverage humour in order to make an impact. Laughter is my gateway drug to new business. Also, the road to branded content creation is paved and then signposted in the fork of either ‘Emotion’ or ‘Humour’.

A decently written story — TV or YouTube commercial — with a quality DOP at the helm, accompanied by an orchestral score, can elevate a mediocre concept to Cannes Bronze status. The line between funny and farcical, however, is so fine.

Consider a comedian standing on stage at a club, squinting out into the blinding lights and judgemental faces of a multi-demographic audience, about to open his mouth and croak on stage for the very first time.

This also happens to be an analogy for the scenario facing the rookie social media community manager before he posts a hashtag-TBT, hashtag-blessed, hashtag-yawn piece of unoriginal content from a calendar, signed off by a marketing manager who doesn’t think their target market is on Twitter because they ‘definitely aren’t’.

Judy Carter, author of The Comedy Bible, simplifies the writing of comedic material into two components:

  • Premise
  • Act-out

It sounds too simplistic. It isn’t. We like to complicate things in the world and business, in particular, to make us seem more impressive, smarter, to elevate ourselves. It’s about being a big dick, or as someone far more eloquent than I described it — Ego. **Hat tip to Freud.**

Comedy and communication

Back to comedy and communication. In both settings — whether you are looking to connect with an audience in a comedy club environment or engage with a target market in your next advertising campaign — it is imperative that you determine the key insight, truth or premise of your material.

When I started doing stand-up in US venues, I would open on the topic of accents, as my accent was my obvious USP or differentiator when communicating to an American audience.

‘Hi. My name is Mike and I’m from South Africa. That’s why I have an accent. And, what’s weird about accents is chicks LOVE accents’ — truth (premise). Regardless of the background of my audience — age, sex, location, creed, or affluence — they identify with the statement that I have an accent and consciously or subconsciously they agree with my words or copy (if we are referring to a campaign).

The second part pertains to the acting-out of the funny; the crafting of the humour. This requires a slick delivery and commitment to the idea in order to generate audience laughter.

So, we have the premise, then we transition — immediately — into the act-out to connect the dots between truth and funny within the audience members’ minds. Comedy is dependent on what you first tell, then show your audience, and eventually how your performance becomes a catalyst for their own imagination to carry the chuckle to its limits. When we package these elements together, the execution becomes:

  • Premise: ‘Hi my name is Mike and I’m from South Africa. That’s why I have an accent. What’s weird about accents is chicks LOVE accents.’
  • Premise part two: ‘You can be Shrek, but if you’re packing an accent, you’re getting some ass!’

Act-out. Left hand behind head. Pelvic thrusts while speaking seductively into the microphone with a Scottish accent á la Shrek, simulating a movement synonymous with making sexy time: ‘Oooooh, that’ll do, Donkey. That’ll do.’

Related: 4 Ways To Implement Strategic Marketing Without Breaking The Bank

Finding a connection

There are few things more powerful in this world than words that disrupt the audience thought process. Donkey-ass puns, turning Shrek’s line of affirmation for Donkey — from its intended feature film usage — on its head, by making it smartly sexual; generating mass hysteria from a group of previously disconnected individuals, now connected through the universal language of laughter.

The best advertising in the world does exactly this. It takes an insight (premise) that connects with you as an individual, forces you to nod your head in agreement, and then leverages a powerfully constructed set of copy lines or imagery to emotionally move you.

Laughter, goosebumps, or the development of a lump in your throat. Effective communication is something that facilitates catching feelings. Whether you are on stage delivering lines, or at your keyboard posting snaps, tweets or status updates, every character that comprises a word of each phrase needs to be a purposeful paragraph composition — not just a tick box on a to do list of monthly KPIs.

We will delve into real experiences throughout this collection of personal anecdotes, because nothing doth a bigger dick make than an ‘expert’ who has all of the theory and none of the practice.

This article is an excerpt from The Best Dick: A Candid Account of Building a $1 million business by Mike Sharman.

Related: 4 Unique Marketing Ideas For SMEs On A Budget


Read this

the-best-dick-mike-sharman

In this his debut business book, The Best Dick, Mike Sharman invites you to share in the hustle. From the enthusiastic, entrepreneurial beginnings of a bootstrapped start-up founder — a relatively inexperienced 26-year old — to a seasoned, professional storyteller, who has built a boutique social media advertising agency that has made more brands go viral, globally, than any other studio in Africa.

Find it at all good book stores for R250.

Get your copy today

Email Tracey McDonald at tracey@ilovebooks.co.za and quote ‘Entrepreneur’ to buy your copy for R200 plus free shipping.

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Marketing Tactics

How Content Marketing Adds Real Value To Your Customers’ Lives

If you’re marketing on a budget, content marketing is a great way to reach your audience, add real value and gain brand traction – without breaking the bank.

Greg Tinkler

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content-marketing

Content marketing is a relatively new type of marketing that most businesses are still trying to get their heads around. Unlike traditional media advertising, which interrupts customers to get noticed, content marketing provides content that customers want in exchange for permission to market a product or service.

Disrupted media

There’s a saying, fish where the fish are. Marketing is the same. You need your message to appear where your audience’s attention lies. I don’t believe billboards or even TV adverts hold consumer attention anymore. People aren’t looking at billboards as they drive past; most aren’t even looking at the road, they’re so busy staring at their mobile device or listening to a podcast.

Related: Your 4-Part Formula For Creating Killer Content Marketing Videos

The traditional advertising model creates ad content that interrupts consumers. Billboards, TV commercials and radio advertisements momentarily disrupt what you actually want to be doing — watching your favourite TV show or listening to a song or chat show.

These ads don’t provide any real value to the customer and they don’t offer an immediate reason to even be viewed or engaged with. Instead, they rely on good placement, clever wording and brilliant creativity to capture your attention for a brief period of time.

The rise of content marketing

In response to these problems and restrictions, content marketing is on the rise. As a marketing alternative, it’s not only more cost effective, but it doesn’t aim to interrupt your customer. Instead, it aims to add real value to their lives and businesses by plugging directly into their interests, problems and challenges.

So how does content marketing work? Companies and marketers create content in the form of blog posts, podcast recordings, downloadable guides and infographics, video content and articles that don’t push products, but offer interesting advice, tips and opinions.

The value to consumers is provided in two ways: As educational content and as entertainment content. In both cases, access to this content is free, heightening its value.

Related: 5 Reasons Your Small Business Needs Content Marketing

Get the most out of content marketing

Here are three ways to get the most out of your content marketing efforts:

  1. Provide content that your customers want. Don’t make the mistake of writing your blog posts about your business. Lesson number one is that people don’t care about your business. Provide valuable content that customers want and need in exchange for their attention. This content can be educational or entertaining. It can be a ‘How to Guide’, an in-depth stats-driven article or an entertaining video. Just make sure it’s about them, and not you.
  2. Focus on content for the customer’s benefit and only occasionally promote or push your product. This is the rule most brands and companies struggle to understand. If you’re going to provide value to your customers, you need to mostly write content for the customer’s benefit and only occasionally promote your products within the content. People are interested in articles and posts that benefit them, not ad posts touting how awesome your products are. Give your customers content that they want, and nine times out of ten you’ll be rewarded with engaged and targeted audiences.
  3. Write cornerstone content. Cornerstone content is content that can be easily found by your ideal customers. It’s content that provides incredible value to customers over a long period of time. How-To Guides, resources, 101 content and instructional videos all fall into this category. It should be content that customers can refer back to, and which has a long lifespan. This also immediately increases the ROI of your content production, as you only need to create the content once, but it will continue to bring returns.

Bringing it all together

As you make your final marketing push for the year and gear up for next year, make sure content marketing forms a vital part of your strategy. Learn to write engaging blog posts, invest in a podcast setup and push video content. No one is expecting your content to be perfect — you are the expert in your area, and have great advice to share. That’s what will keep your audience engaged and coming back for more.

Just remember that this is a long play. Success won’t happen overnight. It takes time to build momentum — but over time, you will notice increased traffic, more leads and more sales.


Getting Started

  • Do you know what your clients are interested in, concerned with or challenged by?
  • Are you offering advice, tips or opinions that tap into these areas?
  • Does your content mostly focus on your clients and not you?

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