Marketing is a huge topic in itself and the question on every business leader’s and business owner’s mind is ‘What is the best marketing strategy for me/ us?”
It could quite literally be a million-dollar question, and it’s quite right that business leaders should have this at the top of their priority list. You could have a brilliant service or product, but if no-one knows you exist and does not understand your value, you’ll ultimately fail despite the greatness of what you can bring to the market.
It is not entirely straight forward to answer though, and of course marketing must be tailored to each brand and their goals, which differ at each stage of the business journey. For example, an approach to brand awareness will be very different to direct lead generation.
‘Marketing’ covers a very wide range of tools and opportunities, from social media, to PR, to banner ads, to Google ads, to SEO, to OOH… the list goes on. It can be difficult to navigate, and so today we’ve asked a lot of experts and leaders what they value in terms of their marketing and what works for them.
Now more than ever it is vital businesses capitalise on their marketing campaigns. By sharing advice and tips from our experts we hope to provide you with insight and ideas to support your business’s or organisation’s growth.
Nicola Moras, Social Media strategist, author of Visible
Content marketing is by far the best marketing method for businesses to adopt. It taps into the minds and the hearts of the people you want to purchase from you. Furthermore, it positions your business as an expert because you’re solving the problems of your ideal audience. Coming in at a close second to content marketing is authority marketing. This is where you share your opinions as a thought leader in your industry and how it relates to your customers and what you’re selling. The multiplier effect happens when you use both of these methods. Your business will be leaps and bounds ahead of the competition.
Suzanne Mitchell, Australia Marketing Director, GoDaddy
“Australians strongly support local businesses, so consider how you could use your story and authenticity to build deeper connections. Considering the disruption of recent months, it’s likely things are tighter financially, so you may want to utilise cost-effective methods to stay top of mind, even if your doors are closed or you’re operating differently to before. Customer behaviour is the driver behind most strategies, so it’s important to first understand if and how their behaviours have changed as a result of the pandemic. For example, many relied on digital channels while high streets were closed, so make a website your new ‘shopfront’ and use email marketing and social media to connect with existing customers, reach new ones and incentivise purchase of your products or services. As a small business, there is no one-size-fits-all strategy, so determine what works best for you and your customers. What’s more, in a changing situation, what worked today may be different to what works tomorrow, so be nimble and prepared to evolve if the situation does.”
Vijay Sundaram, Chief Strategy Officer at Zoho
Despite easing restrictions and a flattening curve, Australian small businesses still face an extraordinary challenge. In the face of that, marketing has never been more important to help them connect with the people that matter most: their customers. Whether you’ve reopened for business, are operating online or tentatively planning your return, it’s imperative you communicate across any and all channels that they utilise. It’s easy to treat email marketing, social media and CRM, for example, as individual strategies, but that’s too complex. Today, when time and money are of the essence and every interaction matters, it’s imperative to utilise one centralised, integrated marketing hub that can effectively manage all your channels. Be it improving customer retention through consistent engagement or driving sales with customer loyalty programmes, an integrated marketing platform allows you to provide a multichannel experience, fully automate functions based on customer behaviour, engage with customers through an integrated experience and even leverage sophisticated analytics tools so you can see what is an isn’t working for you and your customers.
Emily-Jane Shurey, ANZ Marketing Manager at recurring payments platform, GoCardless
Name the single most compelling thing about your brand.
The ultimate goal of any marketing activity is to win the attention of a potential customer and draw them into your brand, product, or service. But can you name the single – yes, just one – most compelling thing about your brand? And are your marketing messages and activity centred around this aspect of your business?
Before jumping into designing campaigns and marketing activity plans across various channels and mediums, stop and think: what is that one thing your business does differently to anyone else? What is the one thing that makes you, your customers and team excited? Because that one thing should now become the single-focus of your marketing.
We don’t often permit ourselves to do this, but today I give you permission to be laser-focused with your message and amplify that across every marketing channel, to foster consistency and passion in all your marketing activities.
Robbie Dunphy, Head of Marketing, Fergus
The best and most cost-effective marketing channel for any business no matter the size, is word-of-mouth. I know this isn’t something anyone who is looking for quick wins wants to hear, but the truth is: generally no one wants to listen to your sales pitch, but they will listen to your customers. For most businesses, good word of mouth comes down to finding a place in the market where there is a certain level of quality expected for a product or service, pricing yourself nearby and then knocking the customer experience for that segment out of the park. In an early stage business you can afford to spend more time delivering a 12/10 customer experience than mature businesses can, so take advantage of that.
On top of that, most businesses need to actively market themselves to stay afloat, but it’s easy to waste a whole lot of time and money on marketing if you don’t know your customer. It’s important to get in front of prospective buyers by finding out where they make buying decisions. The best way to do this is to talk to anyone in the market for what you’re selling (offer to meet up with them for coffee or give them free products/services in exchange for a 15-minute chat), and find out where they look for products i.e. google, shopfronts, review sites etc. This is where you can influence them, so find out how to position your business there.
Ben Lipschitz, MD, FoodByUs
When it comes to marketing for a small business, firstly, know your customer – give them a good experience and build a loyal customer base which will be happy to refer people to you and advocate for your business.
Secondly, don’t underestimate the value of Word of Mouth Marketing and social media – ask people to share your page, and engage with your audience.
Last but not least, market around helpfulness, not promotion – we are a marketplace in the hospitality industry which was very hard hit by COVID-19. We therefore supported our buyers with webinars to help them continue to generate cash flow, supported our suppliers by opening up new marketing channels, and supported the general community with food supply options during a challenging time. By marketing around advice and support rather than just promoting ourselves our message was not only authentic but also helpful.
Steve Orenstein, CEO, Zoom2U
At Zoom2U we’ve really found that focusing on our customers has been the best way to market ourselves because if they have a great experience, they are more likely to leave a review and tell their peers. Product reviews have been really useful for us to prove our success and we can let them speak for themselves. We’ve won ProductReview.com.au awards in 2019 and 2020.
So many small businesses need to be seriously cost effective as they don’t have the huge budgets and marketing teams of bigger brands. You really need to hone in and be strategic about who might use your product and think about how to target them. Social media is a great method as it’s free and you can run low cost targeted ads.
Sometimes just asking your customers about what they’d like to see in your product and what they’re using it for is a really valuable exercise. It can help you discover a use for your product you didn’t even know existed, for example, lawyers use us to send legal documents, so that gives us another market to focus on.
One of the most cost-effective methods of marketing I’ve experienced is the use of public relations as end-users are more likely to respect an authentic review or mention of the company in the media than just being advertised to. We’ve had some great articles and TV segments through public relations so it is a really valuable part of the marketing mix.
Mike Rosenbaum, CEO and founder, Parkhound and Spacer
We have tried some interesting methods of marketing from paying parking fines as a social media competition, guerrilla pop-ups at parking booths to pay for people’s parking and of course the more traditional SEO and social media.
One of the most cost-effective ways we’ve used marketing budget is with Public Relations (PR). Adverts definitely serve their purpose and can be useful to track but there is an industry recognition that audiences respond better to earned media than paid. This is because it is seen as authentic and endorsed by the media outlet. The PR industry therefore shows advertising cost equivalent as 2.5 times higher than advertising space. Myself and Steve Orenstein, CEO, Zoom2U also run a podcast, Founders on Air, in which we both advised to use PR as one of our top tips in the first episode!
Jason Toshack, General Manager ANZ at Oracle NetSuite
Effective marketing starts with a complete view of the customer by understanding their interests, desires, pain points and how and where they would like to be contacted. Data is the most powerful ally for business leaders to get these insights into their customers. As consumer expectations rapidly change, keeping an eye on this data is very important. Many businesses are using data-driven insights to identify new opportunities to reach their audiences, whether it be setting up an e-store, partnering with a delivery provider or developing a new product to excite customers. Regardless of the business sector or type, having access to real-time data and using data points to form insights centered around the customer is invaluable to help drive long-term success.”
Rochelle Ritchie, Content Director, Hotwire Australia
According to headlines, marketing efforts should be focused on ‘pivoting’ strategies to digital and slowing ad spend; While these are good tactics, I don’t think this guidance is enough for businesses to build effective strategy. Instead of focusing on short term solutions, businesses should be shifting their perspective from ‘the new normal’ to the next normal.
A good marketing strategy is built on solid goals, SMART objectives, and a thorough understanding of your audience. The best thing we can do as marketers is adjust our customer personas, and hone in on their projected behaviours and habits – focusing on things we see lasting more than 2-3 months.
While the most effective method for marketing your business may be online, and you may be thinking about pre-roll, Google Ads and your eDM strategy more than ever before, don’t lose sight of the fundamentals. Shifting tactics is only effective if you have a solid understanding of audience behaviours, and if your content strategy ads value.
Sylvia Vasas, Head of Marketing, ELMO Cloud HR & Payroll
Achieving business success in the current environment is conceptually not as far from the “norm” as you may think – however you may have to pivot and realign faster and more frequently. The key remains – keeping your customers at the core of everything you do.
Customer journeys have changed significantly and will continue to evolve. Contactless transactions and digital experiences are an expectation. With restrictions affecting customer mobility and face-to-face contact, people are online (and on multiple devices) more than ever before. So if you haven’t yet gone digital, get there. Yes, it’s competitive, but you can cut through the noise with thoughtful, effective messaging. People are craving emotional connection, so connect your brand to them. Ensure your imagery and content aligns to your customers’ needs and emotions, and that your creative assets clearly articulate why your product or service can support them, their family, their community or their work life, today. Test and learn – use the data to help you make informed decisions to maximise your conversion rates.
Adam Benson, Managing Director, Outsource Recognition PR
If you sell complex, high-value products and services to enterprise and government then you’re selling a solution many buyers don’t have a lot of experience buying. You’ll be investing in building awareness, educating, de-risking and validating your solution, possibly over many months in order to build context and relevance. You will deploy thought leadership and content-led programs, account-based marketing and inbound and outbound digital will be your deployment method of choice. There are many planks to this process, and it requires plenty of intellectual capital and a strategic approach.
If you sell less complex products to consumers or business then the education component is less important. Your target audience understands the product category, probably has experience purchasing a similar solution and mostly needs to know you exist and that your solution offers the best value. Inbound digital will be the primary method for finding new customers at scale.
Melissa Haywood, Marketing Director of Vistaprint Australia
A key growth driver in every budding business is effective marketing. Each time you engage in marketing to attract and retain customers, you increase the value of your company.
Melissa Haywood, Marketing Director of Vistaprint Australia, provides her top three tips for successfully marketing your products and services to consumers:
- Think about customer retention initiatives- To get more traction from your campaigns, set up an automated email newsletter tailored to each of your customer segments. Email automation is simple to set up and yet an extremely effective way to convert prospective consumers and engage past customers for repeat business.
- Take every opportunity to network- Turn to Facebook, LinkedIn, and other key social media tools to engage with networking groups within your industry. Attend local networking events for the opportunity to meet other entrepreneurs and win over the target market and your dream consumer.
- Build your online rep- With it being more important than ever to build brand recognition online, social media offers the ability to build meaningful relationships with your customers. Whether it be reposting positive testimonies on your social media pages, or recognising posts and tweets: like, follow, and share user generated content. These simple interactions are more authentic and effective.
Garth Williamson, Country Manager ANZ at Shutterstock
Email marketing is still one of the best channels for driving sales. Research shows a return of $44 for every $1 spent on email marketing. Knowing how to use images and videos, in particular, has become extremely important for successful email marketing campaigns.
A recent study with Shutterstock and Constant Contact found email campaigns that used Shutterstock images had a 36 per cent increase in click-through rate (CTR) versus the average for all other Constant Contact emails. It also found that email campaigns that used Shutterstock images had an 8 per cent increase in open rates compared to the average Constant Contact email.
Of course, many other aspects of an email marketing campaign will impact the return, from defining the goals to understanding the target, and even the font and colours used. But images and video are a crucial part of the game today.
Alison Lee, Head of Marketing, ipSCAPE
Creating compelling marketing campaigns is essential to cut through the noise and generate interest in your business.
During COVID-19, ipSCAPE was able to focus on promoting timely and relevant benefits such as remote working and the ability to ensure Business Continuity.
Key learnings from this experience include:
- Use insight to drive campaign messaging To create compelling marketing- find a key insight into what is top of mind for your customers. For ipSCAPE, it was the urgency for on-premise technology users to move to the cloud, with speed of implementation being essential to ensure business continuity. With this, ipSCAPE launched our ‘Enable Work from Home in 24hours campaign’ which highlighted our strengths of having an experienced, local team of experts who have a proven track record of exceptionally fast implementations.
- Know your customer
Understand your customer’s pain points and think about what motivates them. We approach this by industry and build campaigns with an understanding that our cloud communication platform helps solve unique problems for each sector. As an example, many retailers were required to close their doors as a result of COVID-19 and were consequently inundated with calls. They also required digital communications such as webchat and email to help their customer service teams handle multiple queries, to improve response rates. ipSCAPE created specific campaigns for retail explaining how we help through our multi-channel solution.
- Get your customer’s attention
Marketing is about disruption, whether it is a billboard along a highway, or a promoted post or a feed on social media– it’s about getting the attention of your customer. The challenge is knowing the right channels for your business. ipSCAPE’s clients are Technology, Service and Sales leaders, therefore the channels we focus on include reputable business publications, LinkedIn and targeted emails.”
Jonathan Englert, Founder, Andiron
We subscribe to a high-impact model in which you aim to find that which is inherently distinct and exciting in the venture and then make that the cornerstone of how you communicate. Sometimes everything but doing this one thing seems pointless, and it’s not an easy thing to do—and we probably only actually achieve it a small part of the time. But it’s worth it when it works, which if you stay committed to it long enough, it usually does. It’s also a better approach to take then mechanical marketing where so much time and money is wasted on activities that get a pass because they seem like the unobjectionable thing to do (e.g., the trade show that exhausts everyone but doesn’t produce a lead). If you’re spending on marketing because you think you should be spending on marketing, but don’t really understand why, then you probably should stop spending on marketing.