2012 has arrived and we are very excited! It is time to look at the challenges and opportunities ahead and start planning your marketing strategy for 2012, if you haven’t done so already. Relationships are key
According to numerous marketing sources and we’d agree, the future of marketing lies in customer relationships. This is supported by the rise of social media, where consumers can engage with your brand at anytime. Gone are the days when companies could control external communications concerning their organisation. The power now resides with the consumer or client. Listening and responding to their needs is vital.
Traditional advertising is over
Your customer’s ability to identify whether what’s being promoted is something useful to them or just “advertising” has become infinitely more acute. According to Andrew Baird at Amazing Business, ignoring ads is at an all time high, so successful marketing relies on being shared online. Customers can then “like”, recommend and share their opinions through this medium.
Word of mouth marketing
Now more than ever, a consistent online presence is crucial to business success. Through conducting regular client surveys on behalf of our clients, TLC Business has persistently found that referrals, whether on or offline, are still a vital tool for sourcing a new service. The rise in social media activity has made it much easier for consumers to recommend or advise against a service and have their message shared far beyond their own social circles. This is further verified by the Buyersphere 2011 report on changing B2B buyer behavior, which identifies referrals as one of the most influential channels when appointing and sourcing a supplier.
Integrated on and offline
Alongside active consumer engagement, TLC Business emphasises the importance of on and offline marketing convergence. With all the noise about digital marketing, it is easy to forget that more traditional marketing methods can still be incredibly effective. Using both mediums together can result in greater returns on your marketing investment. Integral to successfully implementing this strategy is ensuring all your marketing efforts support each other, working in unison, rather than each independently in its own bubble. For successful integration, make sure online and offline business campaigns are consistent, coherent and in sync with each other.
TLC Business’ Director, Josh Spencer, believes that 2012 will be the year QR codes finally realise their potential and become more widely used. For those that haven’t heard, QR is short for Quick Response. These barcodes are used to take a piece of information from an advertisement or product and transfer it to a mobile device. For small businesses, this code can be added to a wide variety of marketing material, including: stationery, adverts, promotional items, posters, stands etc. and direct users to a specific landing page. Using this tool means that information about your business can be accessed instantaneously and at any time. Crucially, it also gives businesses a fantastic way of measuring the effectiveness of a variety of marketing tools that previously would have proved difficult.
Don’t get lazy
Don’t rest on your laurels. What has worked in the past will not necessarily prove effective today. Make sure you adopt strategies that are up-to-date with today’s “switched on” consumers and exploit the latest improvements in marketing tools and technology. For businesses looking to grow their client base and improve customer relations, developing a well rounded and relevant marketing plan is essential. In today’s fast moving society, marketing strategies should be constantly evolving and changing; tools that were successful in 2011, may not be as effective in 2012.
Do your homework
The beginning of a new year also allows business owners the opportunity to diversify their marketing. Research shows that 57% of entrepreneurs interviewed said that marketing was their top priority this year. SMEs that want to continue to build their reputation in the marketplace in 2012 must be aware of consumer needs. Experimenting with different channels will enhance your opportunities, so what better time to try new approaches. Determine those channels that are most profitable and those that aren’t. The New Year marks a time for change, and small businesses are no exception. By refreshing your marketing strategy, you can breathe new life into your business and make 2012 a great your for your business.
We are looking forward to joining you on your journey!