2011 saw a large number of small businesses buckle under the pressure of the financial onslaught. In 2012, if you want to avoid the same happening to yours, clever use of marketing spend could be the answer to getting back on track.
1. The recession is a time to shout about what you do best
Companies who invest in and constantly look to improve the effectiveness of their marketing in tough times generally emerge in better health when the economy bounces back. Crucially, they keep their gains in share of the market and go on to long-term sustained growth. Actively promoting and selling your products and services using creative and highly targeted communications is a crucial long-term strategy when times are tough. You don’t necessarily need to spend more; you just need to be smarter.
2. Don’t forget the “good old” traditional marketing channels
A noticeable trend since the onset of the last recession is that many businesses have focused their marketing efforts far more, or even entirely, on digital marketing campaigns due to their cost effectiveness and the fact they can deliver highly targeted and measureable campaigns. For these reasons, it’s likely to be an increasingly popular media choice in 2012. However, businesses should also consider maximising the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns through integration with offline channels, such as advertising mail. Research conducted by the DMA has revealed that combining email and advertising mail raises campaign response rates.
Of course, where appropriate, advertising mail can be a great standalone marketing medium when it is carefully targeted to reach the right person at the right time. Critically, companies that are using sophisticated analytics to glean nuggets of insight are seeing growth in response rates while others who maintain an untargeted approach or poor messaging are seeing low response rates. According to Royal Mail’s Mail Media Centre, 17.7 million people bought something after receiving a mail order catalogue in the past 12 months and every year advertising mail generates £16bn in sales for UK businesses.
3. It’s all about the power of mobile this year
The proliferation of smart phones is certainly something that clever businesses are set to make greater use of in 2012. Having a mobile version of your website is essential in a market where 50 per cent of consumers – a figure that’s growing fast – own smart phones. Not having a mobile-compatible website will set you behind your competition. Also, consumers are becoming increasingly happy to receive SMS messages from brands they trust. SMS works best when businesses use it to interact with existing customers – building that relationship and encouraging up-sell. Apps too are rising in popularity. However, for many businesses these might not be relevant and companies need to be careful as to what they will achieve before rushing in and creating one.
4. Get creative but be pragmatic
In 2012, in order for businesses to drive sales, they need to think creatively and act pragmatically. Originality and effective targeting and has never been so important. Businesses need to determine what’s most relevant for their audience and not just invest in the simple digital options. In the majority of cases, the balanced utilisation of a number of media channels will be the most effective. For the younger generation it might be a more mobile and social-media focused campaign. For those of an older demographic it might be one that uses advertising mail and email.
5. Hard graft will pay off
This year will be a tough trading environment, but many companies will grow and gain market share at the expense of their competitors. Those that do will invest in clever marketing campaigns that make best use of the available media channels, and who invest the time and budget in understanding what works and what doesn’t.
Chris Combemale is executive director of the Direct Marketing Association.
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