Marketing in Tougher Times

Most businesses will acknowledge the importance of effective marketing, but not all of them devote the time and resources to managing it properly. That’s true at the best of times but it’s especially so when things get tough and margins are being squeezed.

But however challenging things become, there’s really no excuse for letting your marketing slide. Hunkering down and hoping for the best is no recipe for success; those who do nothing but count the pennies will typically emerge from any lean period to find they’ve lost market share to their more proactive competitors.

That’s easy to say, of course, but what do you do when cashflow is tight and you just can’t commit to the sort of budgets you once had?

One option is to re-examine your strategy and establish whether a different approach might deliver better results for a smaller outlay. That could involve a change of promotional techniques or adopting a new route to market. There are always options, but ‘doing what you’ve always done’ is usually one of the worst. Markets change and if you don’t evolve, there’s a serious risk that you’ll get left behind. So keep an eye on what your customers are doing and keep asking yourself whether there are new and better ways for you to respond.

Another solution is to build your own in-house marketing capability, if time and staff resources permit. Developing your employees’ skills is always a useful thing to be doing anyway, but it’s particularly helpful if they can be carrying out vital promotional work that might otherwise be neglected.

PR and Marketing Workshops

I’ve delivered a wide range of marketing workshops over the last twenty years or so – sometimes to groups of new start-up businesses, and sometimes to individual businesses that want to be able to do more in-house.

For SMEs, these sessions offer a chance to take charge of a vital marketing process such as content-writing for social media, website maintenance or even PR. These roles are frequently delegated to third party agencies and, despite their importance, they can be amongst the first tasks to be shed when it comes to cutting costs. If such work is abandoned altogether, that’s a false economy, but it’s easily avoided by training your own people to do the job instead.

We help clients with workshops including:

  • PR and media liaison
  • Website maintenance
  • Social media strategy and content-writing
  • Customer relationship management

All our workshops are bespoke, so they’ll be pitched at the right level for your staff, and they’ll give them enough grasp of the processes to be able to pick up the reins. We can’t make them experts overnight but we’ll ensure that they can work safely, competently and in a way that’s constructive for your business.

For how long they do it is up to you; they can just fill a gap while times are tough or they could gradually take on more responsibility and start to form the basis of a new in-house department. For businesses that are serious about their capacity-building, we can even help you take advantage of apprenticeships and accredited training.

The bottom line is that there are some jobs that you really can’t afford to neglect, but some sensibly planned training can be a really cost-effective way of keeping vital marketing effort ticking over.

Marketing Workshops for SMEs

One of my most recent sessions was hosted through Innovas, a Cheshire-based business consultancy originally founded by Tim Ashcroft. I’ve been working with Tim for over twenty years ago now, on and off. He and I were colleagues in a business support / economic development company back in the late 1990s and – a few years later -when he founded Innovas, I was more than happy to get involved.

This involvement took the form of delivering some half-day marketing workshops in Northwich. The sessions focused on innovation, and how small businesses can best communicate the benefits they offer to their customers. They considered the principles of market segmentation, tailoring messages to suit different groups, and choosing appropriate channels of communication.

Part of a series of workshops, the sessions designed to help delegates on a journey – using innovation to gain a meaningful competitive edge. The series was branded as the 8Launch Innovation programme and feedback was very positive.

For more information about our workshops, please get in touch.