Get your business fit for Autumn
So to help you have a successful end to the year, here are some areas to build into your marketing planning.
1. Toughen key client defences
It’s often the case that a small number of key client accounts bring in the bulk of a business’s revenue. Given their importance, it is important that as a business you plan how you will keep in touch and nurture those key client relationships. The current political and economic uncertainty will be affecting all clients in some degree and their plans, buying habits and key decision-making personnel may adjust.
So avoid months slipping by without touching-base. Invest time in understanding how the current situation is impacting on their business and their plans are for the short, mid or long term.
Find out ways to support them with those plans as this will help you to maintain your position as a key adviser/supplier. Be clear about their key deadlines over the next few months and what priorities they’re concentrating on.
As well as discussions with your key client contacts, follow what is being published by and on the business online. This will help you to get a broader understanding of the whole organisation, not just the department you deal with. Be alert to any insight you glean which helps you to strengthen your support of that organisation – possibly expanding to support other departments.
Compare the volume and quality of the sales you get from all your different channels. The key here is to work out which is bringing the best return and lowest cost of sale. Refocus your resources accordingly to make more of the better channels and reduce expenditure on the weaker ones.
If there is a channel that is proving disappointing, but which you feel still has commercial potential given your target markets, then look closely at your approach and identify why it’s under-performing.
If you’ve invested in a website, social media, online advertising, email marketing and other marketing tools then check how this investment has delivered. As well as assessing visitor numbers, bounce rates and popular navigation routes through your site, see what phrases people are using to find you. What phrases aren’t bringing the traffic you want your way? With this information perhaps rethink the search engine effectiveness of your digital content.
3. Agility test your products and services
Client needs and buying behaviour change and it’s worth evaluating from time to time as to whether your products or services still ‘fit the bill’. Seasonal changes may affect purchasing patterns and so consider if you need to package your products or services slightly differently to tap into seasonal preferences, trends or changes.
Understand what the customer journey for your products/services currently involves. For many Business to Business organisations, buyers are doing a lot more research online before getting in touch.
Reviews and testimonials are also keenly sought after and more decision-makers and influencers are getting involved in the buying decision. Make sure your business is presenting the insight people need and is easy to find/engage with when they need it. Also, ensure your sales teams adjust to a more informed customer and have the tools, approaches and answers to successfully convert interest into business.
Remember that the most successful products and services move with the times and adapt to change. Sometimes this just requires a bit of fine-tuning but at other times it can mean a more radical evolution. The key is to keep track of how your customers’ use of your offering is changing. Monitor and research to find out. Identify which issues your products and services solve and how this may have changed. Above all, use this insight to further evolve your products and re-fine your marketing message.
4. Pack a punchy price
And in stepping back and reviewing how your product or service offering is fairing in today’s climate, factor your pricing approach into that assessment. What are your competitors charging for a similar offering and how does your output differ from them?
Sometimes businesses get caught out by a competitor delivering a similar offering at a cheaper price. It therefore pays to periodically check your competitors’ approach and be alert to them suddenly changing their prices or dolling out incentives etc. If they do, they may have developed a cheaper business model or a more efficient production process which you could be pressurised to follow.
To help strengthen your position, find out how your customers view your price in relation to other providers – what additional benefits or features do they feel they get from purchasing from you… and you alone? Armed with this insight, find ways to safeguard this position and focus on being better and stronger at delivering on those counts.
5. Become a talking point
The noise levels from the myriad of media channels which now surround your customers will only intensify in the Autumn. This means people will become even more sophisticated at screening out marketing and sales messages. Only those which tie in with their interests and situation will have a chance of getting through this filtering system.
Rather than adding to the general hubbub and background wall of noise, think of a handful of distinct topics that you can initiate. Draw on what would interest your customers, what challenges they’re facing and what might be fun or helpful to them at this point in time.
Space your messages out over the Autumn – going for quality not quantity in your planning. To gain attention and build interest consider tapping into current moods/sentiments, latest news and seasonal issues with your messages. Also consider creating something people can interact with and talk about to others, for example:
- Running a special event – loyal customer night, preview, workshop, taster session, free Q&A session
- Launching a new product or service line
- Tying up with a complementary business to offer an extended packaged offering or discount
- Publicising add-ons or different uses of your product or service range
- Bring along a friend buying sessions or offers
- Early bird offers
- Creating an experience around a particular key message
Focus on one discussion piece at a time and integrate it across all your marketing channels to give it a decent chance of coverage and to give it resonance. Be consistent in what you say and measure the response you get.
It’s not too late to get your business into shape for the Autumn. These five simple tactics are easy to undertake and yet can really help your business build competitive advantage over the remaining months of the year. They can also help you avoid wasting resources on areas that just aren’t bringing the return on investment you need. And during the hubbub and general busyness of the season, they can give you a clarity of focus and direction. Just invest a little time to step back and see what fine-tuning your business needs to get fit for the opportunities ahead.
For more advice on marketing your business contact us or tel. 01483 429111.
A version of this article first appeared on the entrepreneur site, Women Unlimited but has been since updated to reflect current times.