Our Business Achievers Live Events are over. We have been all around the island after kicking off in Belfast, with hugely entertaining panelists from all walks of business making valuable contributions.
They had a wide variety of opinions about marketing, social media, selling, search engine optimisation (SEO), websites, e-commerce, apps, and much more. What struck me about the discussions was the complexity and nuance once you go below the service of what marketing means to business.
The number of marketing tools that are now at your disposal as a business owner are enormous. Social media in particular has most people scratching their heads. I have come to the conclusion that it should NOT be about social media, but about the right application of the marketing and communication mix, based on an extreme understanding of your target market, down to near individual level. At its core, it is marketing planning and deep market research that are the key success factors. The classic marketing techniques are the foundation for your communication strategy. Access, education, value and solution.
With an emphasis on access and distribution. With the need for a top-notch product or service. With the need for a compelling story.
With the need for a content strategy. With the need for an SEO strategy. With a need for picking the right communication channels (events, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, business cards, PR, video, direct sales, apps, website, networks, partners, etc.).
If you are not thinking this through, you are wasting your time and not only on social media (which is a reference to a question I asked at every panel discussion: "Is social media a waste of time?")
The whole purpose of the live events was to promote the Ulster Bank Business Achievers awards as part of the marketing mix. And funnily enough, the questions asked in the application are very relevant to the points made in this article.
1. Please describe your business in less than 50 words.
2. Tell us a little bit about your business. When was it started? Why was it started? Who are your customers? How is it better than the competition? What markets do you operate in?
3. What are your routes to market? Are you selling direct or through partners? Have you an eCommerce strategy? What's your pricing strategy? Is there a recurring income element to your pricing?
4. Where do you see the company in five years? How are you going to get there?
5. Highlight other factors such as staff, community impact, investors, innovation, awards.
Not only will it give you a platform for your story and communication, it will also help you to step back and help you to think things through.
Ron Immink is the co-founder of Small Business Can