Marketing is one of the biggest challenges for SMBs over the past pandemic year: Vistaprint

Recent Vistaprint research has shown that one of the biggest challenges SMB owners have faced over the past pandemic year is marketing (32 per cent), beaten only narrowly by the need for financial support (33 per cent). 

As businesses anticipate another tough financial year, Vistaprint senior director of marketing, sales and customer experience, Caroline Swarbrick, addresses how businesses should refresh and pivot their SMB marketing stretegies.

Setting budgets

As a general rule of thumb, Swarbrick said businesses need to be realistic about matching their budget to their goals for the year ahead.

“If you’re looking to maintain your current business, you need to set aside five to seven per cent of total revenue for your marketing budget. To grow your business, you should be looking to spend seven to 10 per cent and to really seek to aggressively gain market share, you would be looking at 10 to 20 per cent for a dedicated marketing budget,” she said.

“It is easy to get caught up in the doing – in fulfilment, in product – but the key is to take a step back and be clear on what you have to play with, and then get to the business of how best to spend it.”

Finding their audience

According to Swarbrick, digital advertising and social media ads are the fastest, most targeted and measurable way to reach customers, as businesses can focus on spending money on the audiences they want to attract.

She also said it doesn’t require a big budget to get going so there is no barrier to starting.

“Just remember to be really laser focused on who you are trying to engage – go back to your core consumer or new audience segment and think critically about where they live (digitally!), when and what else they consume, and therefore the platforms you should test or prioritise first,” she mentioned.

Stand out from the competition

Swarbrick suggested businesses find the space where theycan stand out over the next year by knowing what their brand does better or differently to their competitors and make sure this is what people see.

She also said that they should look at offering additional services that will help them differentiate, like free trials, subscriptions, or recycling schemes of money back guarantees.

“Importantly, hero these unique selling points through your marketing – from video content and photography, to the content you use to explain your business online or in store. Remember, people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. Don’t be afraid to tell your personal story. Connecting with your audience can really set you apart from your competitors,” she said.

Optimising real estate

Swarbrick also said businesses should think of spaces that it can brand.

“Good windows turn window shoppers into foot traffic. Think of simple messaging that explains your business personality in a few quick glances. If you don’t have a store, do you have a company vehicle you can brand? Or if you run your business outdoors, try flags, outdoor banners and wearable branding,” she said.

Build out the experience

Swarbrick added that businesses should think about how they can build the customer experience – from physical interactions to digital engagements.

“This is a sure fire way of keeping customers coming back for more. Offering e-receipts or a loyalty programme will also give you a chance to capture customer details so that you can start building out your relationship and engaging over time,” she said.

“Email is a really inexpensive marketing channel. Consider setting up automated emails when customers first sign up to connect with them while they’re highly engaged. This could be a simple welcome note or special offers to incentivise spending more.”

Swarbrick said these tips are fundamental for small business owners as the new financial year is an opportune time for businesses to take a deep breath and set themselves up for success for the next 12 months.

“Refreshing your marketing strategy is an excellent way to reposition your business and find new pathways to growth in your sector and community,” she added.

“There are a myriad of ways to approach your strategy, but the most important thing is to keep it clear and simple to develop a strategy around your own business goals. Our aim at Vistaprint is to not only provide small businesses with high quality custom products to help execute their strategies, but also share advice and help businesses better connect with both physical and digital marketing materials.”

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