Telling the truth about SME life today

The five marketing mantras for entrepreneurs

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1. Make sure the left hand knows what the right hand is doing

Last year one of our cats died, he was only a year old and it was very upsetting. We told our pet insurance company and they were very efficient at refunding the veterinary bills. We were impressed, until a couple of months later they asked us if we would like to renew his cover. This was not good, so we complained and received a verbal apology from someone in customer service, which was followed shortly thereafter by another letter reminding us that our premium was overdue. This company is of a size that you would expect it to have a decent CRM system, but even if your company doesn’t, it is worth investing time and effort in keeping track of your interactions with your customers and acting on this information when you communicate with them. Making your customer cry is generally not a good way to build loyalty.

2. One Tweet does not make a summer

Using social media is like buying a sweet kitten, a serious commitment. If you want anyone to follow you or become your friend you have to engage in a regular dialogue (that means every day) and moreover you have to say something interesting and relevant to your audience, not just once but all the time. If you don’t have the time to feed and look after a kitten, you shouldn?t get one. It’s the same with social media.

3. It’s not about you

At the start of my career I worked forNestl?. I remember the company with great affection, but I am sorry to report that the Twitter feed forNestl is a classic example of how not to do it. Take this recent tweet; “How would you describe a mug of Nescaf ?to someone who’s never had one or this: “What’s the most creative recipe you’ve ever seen that usesNescaf ?” You can almost see the Nescaf ?tweetmaster clutching at straws in a desperate attempt to adhere to the Nestl tweeting guidelines. The problem is that while your focus is entirely on selling your product, your customers have other interests and, dare I say, lives, so the sad truth is that if you want to engage them you have to talk about things they care about.

4. Cut the copy

Most of the arguments I have had with advertising agencies over the years have been about copy. Clients want lots of copy detailing every feature and benefit of their product in laborious detail, whereas good advertising agencies know that less is more. At the back of the weekend magazine supplements you will find advertisements by companies that can’t afford decent advertising agencies, they are covered in tiny type that no-one reads.

5. If it isn’t working try something else

Nestl is a truly global brand but its Twitter feed has 3,763 followers out of a potential audience of seven billion. That tells you something. I?m a firm believer in testing: the best marketers test new things all the time and the best CEOs recognise that it’s OK if things don’t always work. However even the most understanding CEO won’t be very forgiving if you blow the entire marketing budget on a whim, so start small and build up as you start to see results. And take advice, the British Library Business and IP Centre runs some excellent marketing workshops, even if I do say so myself, so check them out here.

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