Is Marketing Always Important?
Given we’re a marketing agency, I feel like you may be able to guess the conclusion that this article may come to when asked ‘Is marketing always important?’ Still, I’ve recently started working with a client who, despite being a relatively big company (around £1 million in turnover), have almost no presence or profile. When I say almost no profile, I mean that when you Google their company name, you get their website, their Twitter profile, and then their listing on Companies House. No articles, no news, no off-hand mentions in a local forum. Nada.
This got me thinking – if this company has got to £1 million without making a conscious marketing effort, how can marketing and PR help them? Can it help them? Do they need it? Here are some thoughts…
Is Marketing Always Important – And Why?
Growth beyond referrals
To take this company as an example (let’s call them MilCo), their growth had come almost exclusively from referrals and prior contacts within the industry. They knew a guy who commissioned their service, they got a job, they did it well, and he recommended them to someone else. In short, the best type of marketing or promotion you can really get. Still, it’s a fairly closed circuit, restricted to a limited pool of potential clients (prospects, if you like). Unless you have a huge amount of faith in six degrees of separation theory (and even that could take a while), you’re going to struggle to grow beyond that limited pool of prospects.
A well-considered marketing strategy though, can help you engage prospects from outside this pool; in a most basic sense, it allows them to hear of your company, and once they’re heard of you, they’re able to enquire and eventually commission.
For a second, let’s continue on the referrals/recommendations pathway. By about the second or third level of referral (i.e. a friend of a friend of a friend) the prospects approaching you who ‘used to work with Chris at ABC Corp, who worked with Dave at XYZ Ltd, about the same time he worked with MilCo’, have no real relationship with you at all – they’ve heard about you from someone who heard about you from someone who worked with you. Probably a while ago.
The first thing they’re likely to do is Google you.
Having some kind of profile will add credibility to the fact that you can actually do the job required – i.e. news articles outlining a successful contract win, awards wins, whitepapers, etc. – all of this goes towards creating a degree of thought leadership within your chosen industry; i.e. you know what you’re talking about. In addition, there’s also an element of social proof at work here – if other people have used your services and said good things (think testimonials, case studies) then the proposition for a prospect becomes less risky; there’s an evidence base on which to make a decision.
Social profiles are also important – Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook are (in most niches) hygiene factors today; people expect you to have them and the way they are managed can give an insight in to the type of company you are and how you operate. Is the tone of voice chatty, professional, are you sharing industry content or are you promoting your own services?
Repeat customers and engagement
As a final piece of food for thought, a well-planned marketing strategy should include elements focussed at current clients or people have already worked with / bought from your company. Your current clients are your most qualified leads – you know they are in the market for the services or products you provide – so keep your company top of mind.
This is relatively simple – a monthly email newsletter focussing on industry trends (I like this as it means you’re giving them something useful, not selling to them – although you’re still building that air of thought leadership we discussed above), or if you have a blog why not ask if they would like to be featured (although think about the relationship here – do you want to provide competitors with your leads?).
Even a catch-up call a couple of months after they’ve purchased your service to see how it’s working, do they have any questions, etc. This is more suited to high-priced products or on-going services, but taking a couple of minutes to speak to a previous client can be hugely effective in keeping you top of mind for future work.
So to close, whilst referrals are an incredibly powerful approach to growing your company, and there’s no better form of promoting your company than word of mouth; these should be just part of a bigger picture. There’s no reason to be constrained to one approach – digital, face-to-face, telephone and even more traditional approaches like thank you notes can be all be effective channels. Your messaging is also important – a mix of selling your services, providing thought-leadership and industry intelligence, and highlighting successes is generally a solid place to start.
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