In difficult economic times, many small firms especially
will simply cut out their marketing activity altogether as a way of cutting costs.
But is this really the right
Whilst the answer is a decisive no, it is not as straightforward a response as it might seem. For a
start, if the marketing activity undertaken to date has not yielded any new business, then it's more a question of looking
at your marketing strategy.
Many small firms are not always that good at monitoring the impact of, say, newspaper
advertising despite the cost. They fail on the basics like making a point of asking how new customers heard about them and
recording that information to enable them to build up a picture that will allow them to target their marketing effort and
spend far more effectively in future with better results.
The other thing to remember is that, even in a recession,
there are still people out there with money, so the issue is who is going to get a share of that smaller cake?
are a number of channels to market: advertising in newspapers and magazines, phone directory listings, door-to-door leafleting
and websites to name a few.
The problem with newspaper or magazine advertising is that, for most businesses, you
have to advertise every time that publication is published in order for your advertising to be effective. If it's a daily,
that means daily, if it's weekly it means weekly, but it also means you need (very) deep pockets.
if you are an electrician and you put an advert in your local paper once, you are almost certain to have wasted the money
the advert cost. That's because few people ever respond to the first, second or even third time they see an ad unless
it's selling something they really want there and then like a collectable model aeroplane or commemorative coin. Event
advertising is also an exception to the rule. So, for most businesses, in order for your advertising to be effective, you
need to put aside a budget to be in every issue, on the same page every week, month or whatever the frequency of the publication
is to allow that ad to be effective and that takes a lot of money. Electricians, plumbers, joiners, shops who advertise infrequently
are generally throwing their money down the drain. They may as well put the money in a pile and set fire to it - at least
it would generate a little warmth for a few minutes!
So what's the alternative to spending thousands on newspaper
and magazine advertising?
The simple answer is websites, potentially the ultimate marketing tool available to everyone.
I say potentially because, like everything else, success depends on a range of factors, the most important of which are: Can
my website be found? Is it designed well enough to convey credibility to my customers?
If the answer to these questions
is no, then again, there's little point in having one. A good website must be well-optimised and well-designed. Optimisation
isn't complicated or difficult as some SEO (search engine optimisation) firms will tell you in order to make you part
with even more of your hard-earned cash. Great-Value-Websites.Com offer you this advice for free! More on optimisation later.
The fact remains, marketing is essential. Doing without it is rather like expecting a car to run without
The key things to consider are: Who are the people I am targeting? How can I reach those people effectively
and cost-effectively? Am I prepared to put a little effort into it? And, will I make sure to ask new customers how they found
my business and record that information?
Let's look at the trends in marketing. Most people don't use phone
directories any more. Websites are far more accessible including on mobile phones. That's why Yellow Pages have migrated
online. Most people today, especially those under the age of 50, will simply ‘Google it', that is to say, they will
go online, type in what they are looking for and the area they live and wait to see whose website comes up. Many, if not the
majority, will by-pass other directories and ‘Google it', making your own website pretty much essential to maintaining
and increasing sales.
So, if you live in Cheltenham or Coatbridge for example and you are looking for carpets,
you'll most probably go online, type ‘carpet shops Cheltenham' or wherever you live into the search engine and
choose your supplier from one of the results coming up on the first page.
For that reason, if you are serious
about ensuring a steady stream of sales even in a recession, websites can be a cost-effective option and allow you to cast
your net nation- or even world-wide.
But like everything else, it all depends on how effective your website is.
When searching for something online, few people ever go to the second, third or subsequent pages, so if you're
not on the first page in a range of well-chosen search terms, you're losing out. There are no second or third prizes when
it comes to being found online.
The key is to choose likely terms people will use in their search engine to find
your business, ensure all your meta and alt tags are correct; make regular changes and additions to your website; seek one-way
inbound links to your site from free directories for example and use social media such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter effectively.
Don't worry if this sounds complicated. It's not and at Great-Value-Websites.Com, we will advise customers for free.
We also add the keywords, meta tags and alt tags to your site for you so you don't have to.
In the past, a
good website cost thousands. Some websites still cost thousands even though technology has moved on and the build-time has
significantly decreased as a result.
However, it is still possible to get great value sites, but make sure they
aren't ‘cheap' sites as opposed to ‘value' sites. Cheap sites are generally poor and ineffective templates.
Value-for-money sites offer all the functionality you need including an easy-to-use content management system, the ability
to add interactive maps, customer enquiry forms, embed video content, etc. Great-Value Websites.Com offer 10-page websites
at just £190.00 all-in. That includes domain name registration, full professional design to reflect your own corporate
branding and give your site (and business) credibility online with prospective customers, up to five email accounts and first
year's hosting. We also offer e-commerce shopping sites and 25- page and unlimited page options. Like-for-like, nobody
but nobody can beat us on price.
Why is the design important? Well, even if you make it to position one
on page one of Google in the generic listings, if your website is poorly designed and looks amateurish, that's the impression
people will have about your business, poor and amateurish.
A professionally-designed site, on the other hand, reflects
the professionalism of your business. Many small business owners fall into the trap of trying to save even £190 by getting
their 'brother-in-law who is a social worker' to build them a site ‘for free.' So what's wrong
with that scenario?
Well, if the brother-in-law is a social worker, he's unlikely to have the design, SEO or
marketing skills to build an effective website. It would be like asking me to strip down a car engine and re-build it!
So the best advice I can give is, don't skimp on the £190.
It will be the best investment your
business can make in gaining new business and it's certainly nowhere near enough to break the bank (banks are pretty good
at doing that for themselves!). So step 1 is: Phone 01671 403875 and order your website
from us as you won't get a better deal anywhere else. Step 2. Follow our advice
on ongoing search engine optimisation. Step 3. Watch your sales grow.
you're thinking about those other channels to market such as leafleting, well, don't waste your money. Leafleting
has just over a one per cent conversion rate and delivering leaflets is no fun if you're doing it yourself and it's
expensive if you are paying someone else to do it, especially by the time you get your leaflets printed.
why (effective) websites are such a powerful proposition.
This is an original article by Peter Jeal, Director of
Great-Value-Websites.Com and may be reproduced in its entirety.
Peter Jeal was an account director for a consultancy based in the
south of England where he handled a number of major clients in the hospitality and telecoms sectors including BT. He is a
past president of Wigtownshire Chamber of Commerce and now runs Great-Value-Websites.Com in partnership with his wife Bobbie
where they offer not only affordable web design, but also marketing and SEO services.