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Without deep pockets, getting the right marketing message to your consumers can be a challenge. It is possible to do it well with a clear and concise plan.

BY SANGEETA ANAND

In difficult economic times with a limited budget it is still possible to reach out to clients and achieve outstanding marketing results. Here’s how.

UNDERSTAND YOUR BUSINESS AND YOUR CUSTOMERS WELL

Market research is often under-funded when budgets are tight. But it is the foundation of effective marketing.

First and foremost understand your customers and their buying behaviour, says Gary Lee, managing director of Christchurch-based e2digital, a marketing agency that has helped brands like A J Hackett and Jockey.

Understanding customers is crucial to establishing what communication channels and tools to use and in what format the message needs to be delivered, says Dr Stéphanie Lamotte, marketing co-ordinator at Wyma Engineering (NZ), an exporter of post­harvest solutions.

Understanding your brand helps transform reputation into brand equity by positioning your products effectively around a strong point of difference and value proposition.

Dr Lamotte explains how Wyma decided to engage in a brand project three years ago.

“Our website and online strategy needed a fresh start. But Wyma chose to set the right foundations by first engaging with all its internal and external stakeholders to fully understand their brand values and customers.”

True to its tagline “Fresh Thinking”, Wyma was committed to understanding its customers, delaying the new website’s launch until it was sure it knew their needs.

“It may have delayed the implementation of the website. However, this brand strategy stage

allowed us to develop a consistent and distinctive look across all touch points and to clearly communicate Wyma’s points of difference to our international customer base.”

The research paid off. The new website resulted in 40 times more new visitors.

PLAN MARKETING OBJECTIVES IN LINE WITH BUSINESS OBJECTIVES

Planning provides the much-needed clarity that can minimise wasteful marketing activities. For this, marketing planning must be closely informed by business strategy.

“Your budgets and objectives need to be aligned to the strategic direction of the company and, in particular, its market development strategy, so that your limited marketing resources are adequately spent,” says Dr Lamotte.

Wyma’s marketing activities were worked out in parallel with the strategic objectives of the company.

One of Wyma’s aims was to develop a direct presence in Europe. “So a lot of our marketing initiatives have focused on supporting this objective with targeted print and online tools,” says Dr Lamotte.

This strategy has found success, too: Wyma has established an office in Europe and appointed three full-time salespeople to cope with European demand.

MEASURE TO MANAGE

What cannot be measured, cannot be managed. Limited marketing budgets dictate that every dollar spent is closely monitored for returns. However, it’s not always easy.

“It is sometimes hard to adequately measure ROI on marketing activities. But setting up a budget and objectives associated with each marketing activity is a good start,” says Dr Lamotte.

Lee agrees. “A lot [of marketers] do not have the discipline on the measurement side, so ROI is hard to gauge. Digital [marketing] offers [methods of] measurement but decision-makers usually are not committed.”

Senior managers need to get behind the measurement tools, especially digital ones.

Marketing steps include:

  • Building strong relationships with suppliers
  • Using digital tools
  • Reviewing marketing spend to identify potential savings
  • Using Google AdWords to drive highly targeted traffic
  • Tapping into free social media tools
  • Recruiting a marketing manager with digital media knowledge

Build strong relationships with suppliers

Having a strong relationship with suppliers allows you and them to develop and learn, says Dr Lamotte. “You will find they learn as much from you as you do from them.”

Have a clear project brief for suppliers so that you don’t waste time and resources. Choose suppliers carefully. Don’t let price alone dictate the selection of a supplier, even when on a small budget.

“There also needs to be a strategic fit with your company and a belief that you can trust the selected supplier.”

Dr Lamotte says Wyma prepared a detailed project brief when it undertook its website redesign. It interviewed three suppliers and short-listed two. “We have partnered with our digital supplier for two years now. We have regular discussions as to how our online strategy can be further developed at low cost.”

Using digital tools

A website is a very cost-effective marketing channel. Build the website with clients in mind. Analyse website statistics to understand how the site is being used by visitors and use that knowledge to improve the visitor experience. Hire a search engine optimisation (SEO) specialist to improve returns on internet marketing.

Reviewing marketing spend

Here are some questions to ask: Can you partner with a supplier for your advertising campaign? Can you replace a print newsletter with digital?

Wyma shifted from offset printing to digital printing. The company made it a rule to first send its representatives to trade shows as visitors.

“This is usually planned as part of their sales trip. Based on a visit, we can assess the potential of the show,” says Dr Lamotte.

Wyma also moved its graphic design work from an external supplier to an in-house designer. “This has had immediate financial benefits and also resulted in greater control and flexibility of creation,” says Dr Lamotte.

Using Google AdWords

Google AdWords is a potent way to drive highly targeted traffic. Campaigns can be started, paused or stopped at any time. A daily or monthly AdWords budget can be set.

“[With AdWords] you can target demographics, geography. You can also measure ROI,” says Lee.

AdWords can also provide valuable market information and could be a good market intelligence tool. Google AdWords executives are helpful and can provide campaign design expertise.

Exploring other social media tools

Check out other free social media tools. YouTube is one of the top five most-visited websites in the world. Wyma website traffic increased by 10% when it released the Wyma Solutions channel on YouTube.

Digital media

Hire a marketing manager with a good understanding of digital media and online tools.

Outstanding marketing results are possible on a limited budget with detailed planning, focused execution and close monitoring. [END]

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