It doesn’t matter whether you are new to business or a dab hand, June 30 generally causes angst for business owners in one way or another.
But I want to share a few ways to take the focus from BAS returns, stocktakes and tax returns and remind you (or maybe even surprise you) with a few things you could be considering instead.
I recently shared my ideas for some tax deductible opportunities for your marketing spend with the talented Studio: Tiffany Gouge to create our essential EOFY branding checklist, and along with the equally talented Lisa from Jaffe Websites, we think we’ve made your tax time all the more palatable.
Media exposure at topical times of year takes planning, so there’s never been a better time to get your brand EOFY ready! Don’t let it be a surprise and miss out!
It can be difficult for many SME’s to know when and what to pitch to the media – finding a news-worthy story angle can present as one of the biggest hurdles for small business owners, but so too, can be the ability spot an opportunity.
Sometimes, in lieu of knowing what to pitch, keeping an eye on appropriate media targets for your industry and target market can open up the gateway to finding that reason.
Let’s take a look at three simple opportunities for any business to pitch their small business to a journalist, editor or even producer.
It’s your first time –
If your business has never graced the pages of your local paper or never been mentioned over your local radio soundwaves, then now is the time to make a phone call. Local media love to feature local stories, and generally prefer to feature angles that are relevant to their direct locality over those outside of their jurisdiction. Browse your local publications and keep an ear out for story angles that other small business owners are utilising to get a piece of the action and a feel for what they are interested in ~ it could be anything from a new and innovative product that can help the community, a charitable event or sponsorship, a hardship, or even a quote on a news story that is topical to your area of expertise. If you do spot a hook for a story, then don’t hesitate. Time is of the essence and you’ll need to reach out promptly in order to be relevant in the eyes of your target.
Topical or special occasion –
With dozens of special or important occasions and dates sprinkled throughout our calendar year, there is sure to be an angle here that is relevant to your business. Own a small, boutique florist? Think of pitching your floral advice to your outlet in the lead up to Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day. Create or source nutritious take home meals and snacks? Consider offering expert dietary advice on World Diabetes Day or packaging tips off the back of Nude Food Day. Offer amazing vacation care services? Get in before the school term comes to a close. Own a chiropractic or Veterinary clinic? Leverage your expertise by finding out about corresponding annual health days like World Spine Day or National Pet Day and pitch your story angle in the lead up to them.
Again, time is critical here and you’ll need to have done your research BEFORE your topical date arrives – journos aren’t always aware of dates that are relevant to your field so giving them plenty of time to consider your story/advice here is crucial and to get in before another business does!
Newsjacking is defined by newjacking.com as the art and science of injecting your ideas into a breaking news story so you and your ideas get noticed. It requires a constant understanding of what stories are taking centre stage in your media targets and remaining mindful and vigilant in deciphering ways you could contribute to, or piggyback a relevant angle.
We highly recommend checking out SourceBottle’s recent blog article which outlines effective tips for success with this often short window of opportunity to connect with your media targets.
And while we’re on the topic of SourceBottle, we love using their daily ‘drink up alert’ calling for opportunities from a wide variety of publications, podcasts, television interviews and more, as an effective way to share your story and connect with journalists, for free. Sign up today to receive media opportunities relevant to your business and field, delivered straight to your inbox.
Regardless of your field of expertise or what type of business you own, there are countless opportunities for you to pitch to your media, the key is to remain vigilant with remaining up to date with your publications and relevant stories in your industry, as well as remaining open-minded about even the smallest of opportunities which may present itself to you.
I wanted to share this recent coverage for one of our clients, not to show off but to share the purpose behind it.
Business owners often struggle with finding a story in their business, and therefore miss an opportunity. In this instance, I happened to spot the story and I approached them.
To them, this was merely an attempt in trying to raise money for charity, however once I started talking to them about it, it was the story behind how the event came about, that really sparked my interest and I immediately knew this was a media-worthy charity event.
Yes, there are hundreds of charity events going on every day and you’ve probably undertaken charity events through your business. But it’s about sharing the ‘why’ and backstory to the event that is likely to make it media worthy.
In this example it was how these young lads had realised that through their business, they were able to help their clients and local community in a way other than the obvious for their industry of keeping people fit and healthy through exercise and nutrition.
This made a great example of a media stunt, what they are actually doing in terms of pushing the sled is not the actual story, but why they are doing it and the connection with their business is what turns it into a stunt, worthy of sharing with the media and also relevant to their business.
I see too many business owners coming up with charitable events, which is if course honourable, but if you want to balance supporting a charity and your business, because let’s face, it, we cannot all spend our time raising money AND supporting our business, if you can find a way to blend the two, then you’ve created a media stunt.
I know you want your business name up in lights, and so you should! But if the whole idea of approaching the media has left you feeling a little overwhelmed and unsure of where to start, or you fancy doing your own media stunt, then that is where we come in!
Spotting story angles is what we do. Creating media – worthy stunts is what we do, and therefore, if you’d like help figuring out a tantalising hook to pitch to your local journalists, then drop me a line.
The story is invariably there, I promise you that. You may just need a hand finding it.
I have seen a lot of plans in my time – new clients handing me a plan they have written or had written for them that is pages and pages long, spreadsheets, graphs, you name it. And guess what happens with it? Yep, you guessed it, nothing. It sits gathering dust but looks pretty impressive!
So, to avoid spending hours writing a plan which is never implemented because it’s just too darn complicated and overwhelming, here are my top tips for creating a marketing plan that you will stick to and will actually make a difference to your marketing (and I warn you, it is nothing fancy):
· Keep your plan to one page broken down by month and week. You could equally use an annual wall planner.
· If you are a start-up or particularly time poor, or a novice, pick no more than 3 regular marketing strategies to begin with eg: 1 social media platform, a blog, a newsletter.
· Do not commit to a strategy that you couldn’t implement yourself – it will be more time consuming and costly in the long run. Make a return on your marketing first or try a couple of strategies first to test and review what does and doesn’t work before you try to outsource.
· Now write down a theme at the top of each month column, which can cross all of your marketing strategies eg: Winter: window displays (winter clothes range), social media (staying warm this winter), blog (fashion accessories this winter).
· Then add any promotions, events, key dates, special occasions etc that you want to remember and feature.
· For each of your key dates entered in the above point, work back from each one the date you want to start promoting.
· Create as much content up front and schedule to social, newsletters, write blogs etc.
· Review your plan at least monthly. This will ensure that you don’t miss an opportunity and are prepared.
· Add to the plan the results eg: newsletter subscriber numbers, sales during promotion, event attendees etc so that you can look back and review which activity worked and reaped the best return.
And that is it! This will enable you to take action and get going. As you become more comfortable with it and build a routine with your marketing and gather data about your customers and sales, you can start to add in other strategies or increase the frequency based on the results – eg if your blog is driving increased traffic to your website then blog twice a month, or if promoting events on social is working and resulting in sales, then perhaps increase the frequency of events or the numbers you can take.
As ever, we would love to hear how you get on. Why not pop over to our tribe on Facebook and share a pic of your plan or share a win with us on our Friday #showoff themed day!
I recently read a post in a FB group with someone sharing their experience of a very high profile speaker event where she listed what she had learned and the key pieces of information that the speaker shared. This was all around what was hot in the world of social media and various stats and facts such as customers need to be touched by your brand 5.2 times before they are likely to purchase.
What then followed in the feed was a long list of ‘thank you’s, that’s great!’… now this bothered me and I will tell you why.
Nothing this speaker had shared was ground-breaking, nor was it anything that you couldn’t read for yourself online for free – no idea what they had paid to attend the event but regardless, I was particularly underwhelmed by what had been shared. But more than this, was the lack of what to do with this knowledge and what I call the ‘so what now?’ test. Having that knowledge is all well and good however if it doesn’t apply to your business or you don’t know how to make it applicable to your business and make it of any benefit to you and your customers, then to be frank, it is completely useless. And I see this all the time. Business coaches spouting the latest trend, idea or latest hack, but with no real help to others on how to make use of this strategy.
I call it incomplete and superficial help. Great I say, you know that you should connect with your customers 5.2 times, does that mean you have to send them 5.2 emails a day, schedule 5.2 social media posts a day, or make 5.2 calls to encourage them to buy? Clearly that is ridiculous but you get my gist. Most business owners do not know what to do with the plethora of information they consume every day and without action, it is all pretty well, let’s say useless.
Unless you can filter out all this content and know what is applicable to your business and then know how you are going to use it, then I wouldn’t waste any more time reading the latest coaching guide, following coaches who claim to make you 7 figures overnight or coaches who are full of facts but provide no guidance on how to use and implement it.
It’s one of the reasons I was adamant that I would blend both insights for clients along with a done for you element – I would never say, oh go and use the media and gain coverage for your business but then give them no idea how. Or tell them to create partnerships for your business but not explain how; or claim to have made millions from a strategy but not show them how.
So my message to you is, knowledge is great but always qualify it and know how you are going to use it – that is when the real ROI comes. If you plan on listening to a speaker because you are interested in the topic, make sure that you know what you are going to do with that info and how it can help you, otherwise you have just spent several hours of your time and no doubt money, for a whole heap of useless information.
How on earth can a Facebook Group be bad for your business we hear you say? We know it sounds odd, but we spend a lot of time in groups and have learned a few tricks to make the time spent in groups, a profitable one. What we have also learned is that some groups should carry a health warning and here’s why!
Facebook groups, like any other networking forum or group, are operated by an individual or one or two admins and as such, take on their own personality and have their own set of rules. In turn, they attract a tribe, which fits their vibe. Understandable. But a bit like selecting to attend a networking event based on the speaker, or the organizer, the types of business that attend, or the format, so too should you be selective about the business FB groups that you hang out in. Every one is different and not all are suited to every business type or individual. Here are some examples:
The ‘there, there’ approach
This is the group that allows members to wallow in self pity, supports and pats on the back and says well done, even if actually you have made a whopping mistake or clearly have a failing business model, yet no one is likely to give you the strong, experienced advice that you need as they like to fit in and feel they are playing the role of ‘sisterhood’ not hard nosed business colleague. (These groups tend to be female only). It suits some. Those that need that endorsement or place to share their woes will love this group. Wallow here at your peril. The feed will be filled with sorrowful looking selfies and ‘vulnerability sharing’ actively encouraged; people wanting to hear what they want to hear rather than what they need to hear and heaps of business owners with obvious lack of self esteem, confidence and clear focus will fill the feed. If a boost and a friendly comment is what drives you, great, this group may serve a purpose for you. If however, you need down to earth, sensible advice and someone to snap you out of a rut, don’t hang out here! There is a risk of losing perspective on what is positive in business and begin to surround yourself with a crowd that doesn’t actually stretch or challenge you.
Give, give, give
This group is a good all round business support group however contains very few experienced business owners and rather than there being a lot of value being shared and useful tips and ideas, the majority is start ups or inexperienced business owners, seeking help and advice. Now don’t get us wrong, sharing your advice is absolutely valuable but take care that it doesn’t sap too much of your time and that you track and measure the return. If your target market is in there then great, you can share lots of advice and become an expert, attracting new leads. And if you are a newbie, than this can be the perfect place to learn and ask questions although ensure you do your due diligence as advice from those with little experience or breadth of knowledge, can be risky.
Follow the leader
This group is a less common one and is lead and managed by a strong leader, likely with a high profile and with significant member numbers. This group is packed with loyal members all eager to learn from the leader with many almost ‘idolising’ the leader. Although this sort of group can be great to learn from at whatever level, you may find a lack of variety in the content with members less likely to share their knowledge for fear of feeling inferior to the leader or stepping on toes. Members endorsed by the leader become known quickly and you could generate strong leads by becoming an expert voice within the group. Â It can be a great forum to meet those with fast growing businesses and ambitious, driven individuals. If you are easily intimidated or those that are further ahead in their business journey than you make you feel inferior, steer clear. Otherwise, read, learn and connect.
So how can a FB group work for me?
Here are our top tips for using Facebook groups to generate leads and grow your business:
Select the groups you mix in carefully ~ see our insights above.
Know why you are in the group â€“ is it to learn, is it to share, is it to generate leads, is it to promote, is it to seek ideas? Know what the strategy is so that you can measure the success â€“ if a group is not delivering your desired outcome, then leave or spend less time there at least.Â It may simply not be the right group for you, but there are plenty of others to try.
Be consistent ~ FB business groups, like any other marketing or business development strategy is all about being consistent. Don’t be tempted to flood the group with content and then disappear for days or weeks. Try to schedule time each day to pop in, browse, comment or if you intend to share content, then create a schedule to do so and have a clear, measurable strategy.
Don’t be afraid to leave – if it doesn’t suit you and you are gaining no value, then leave and hunt for an alternative! Simple. Hanging around will only distract you and take up valuable feed space that should be full of the most useful content possible.
So get out there, join some groups, get a feel for the tone and vibe and start connecting and sharing!
Warning – a rather direct and to the point blog, not for those that like fluffy advice or think that marketing is about their likes and dislikes.
It concerns me when I see posts in business Facebook groups that go something along the lines of:
‘When is the best time to post on FB, IG, LI to get maximum traction?’
Or ‘which social media platform should I use?’
Or ‘what’s the best way/place to market my products?’
All of these questions say one thing to me – the person does not know who their target market is and therefore have not done any research on them. If they had, they would be able to answer these questions for themselves or at least recognise why and where they need to start looking for the answers.
But more worryingly is, those asking these questions have already started a business and often invested a considerable amount of time and money, without knowing this information. Knowing who your market is and that you even have a market for your product or service, is crucial, let me say that again, CRUCIAL, in knowing how and where to market to them.
And because I always look at numbers within a business, it worries me that there are a lot of start-ups spending money on expensive websites, product development, branding and even retail premises, before they have undertaken the fundamental task of getting to know their market. Massive risk. And before I hear you say ‘but I have seen others doing it, or so-and -so is successful at it, or I did it in corporate, or my family and friends think it’s a great idea’, stop right there. Doing it for yourself means you are going to do it differently to them because you are different and can never replicate someone else’s business or success. You can certainly learn from others, pick up ideas or research others in your industry, but that is never a guarantee of your success. There are far too many factors that you will never know about the other business.
Everything you do in marketing must be in line with your market. Your brand must speak to them, your social media must speak to them at the right time and on the right platform, your premises must be accessible by them and entice them in and your products must provide a solution or fulfil a need for them. None of this is about you.
And this is the thing – the only way you will find out who your market it is, where they hang out, which social platform they use, what they do at weekends, what they value and what they love about their favourite stores, is, yes you got it, ask them. Go and speak to them, meet them, watch them, hang out with them, understand them.
It doesn’t matter if you like the location, if you love IG, or if you liked your logo, if your ideal customers do not.
creating a focus group
create an online poll
observing customer buying habits
chat to retailers
be a customer of your competitors
….basically, immerse yourself in your industry and most importantly, wear the shoes of your customer.
I am always very happy to have a no obligation chat about your business and provide advice and ideas.
I love helping business owners to learn how to create loyalty amongst their customers that not only results in customers returning again and again, but also attracts new ones.
Retention is key and with it, quite often, comes referral. Both are extremely valuable and generally are the most cost-effective marketing strategies that a business can use.
But I don’t want to talk about how to create loyalty in this blog; I want to look at the differences between a loyalty scheme that is promoted and known to customers, versus a loyalty scheme that surprises a customer.
There are heaps of examples of such loyalty schemes such as Flybuys, Qantas points and Velocity from the large organisations, through to coffee shops with loyalty cards that are stamped on each coffee purchase with a free coffee earned after a pre-determined number of stamps. Other traditional loyalty options used by smaller businesses may be loyalty discounts for minimum spends, invitations to events, exclusive offers, referral incentives. These are generally well-publicised schemes that customers are encouraged to take up at their first interaction with the business. And in turn, they are either welcomed by customers, or disregarded.
This is still a loyalty strategy and can take the form of any one of the above options with the exception of issuing a loyalty card, but the difference being, the customer is not expecting this and does not know that by shopping with this business, they will be rewarded. Can you recall the last time you received a freebie with a purchase and wasn’t expecting it, or was sent a thank you for shopping with a discount for your next purchase? This form of loyalty can often result in stronger loyalty, prompt sharing and referral and ultimately be more memorable than a promoted scheme. The surprise of what you have received, prompts you to tell a friend, or encourages you to shop again and probably makes the name of the business stick in your mind. And in the noise of the many options out there, something like surprise loyalty could be the difference between a customer choosing you over searching for a competitor.
Promoted and surprise loyalty schemes can work equally well for both product and service businesses and either on or offline.
Both promoted and surprise loyalty do not need to cost heaps – it could be as simple as a thank you card, a call to see how they are enjoying their purchase, or perhaps a money off voucher for their birthday or free shipping once they have spent an amount. It is all about making the customer feel special, making them feel known by you, valued by you and making their shopping experience both pleasurable and memorable.
With the Australian Bureau of Statistics reporting that more than 60% of small businesses shut up shop within the first three years of trading, being out of touch with customers is cited as one of the top reasons for these failures. Business owners are failing to appreciate that without the complete understanding of the customer, any marketing strategy is most likely to fail dismally.
Cisco’s retiring CEO delivered a dire prediction in Business Insider Australia: that 40% of companies will be dead in 10 years.
“Either we disrupt or we get disrupted,” said John Chambers.
It stands to reason, that small business marketing must also be upturned, with a focus on striving for greater innovation, creativity and in turn, tuned into today’s customers demands whilst delivering healthy returns for today’s tight budgets. Increasingly, small businesses particularly those servicing a local customer base, are shunning the most popular and well-known marketing strategies such as print advertising, social media campaigns, SEO and Google Ad words, disillusioned with the high investment costs and poor returns. Such strategies simply aren’t delivering the attractive returns promised by their promoters.
Online business forums and business networking groups are flooded with ‘experts’ touting the latest hack, promising 6 or 7 figure returns and huge upturns in sales, in a matter of months or even days. It is therefore hardly surprising that for every claim of attractive sales, there are many more tales of woe and marketing failure. Many SME’s are sucked into parting with vast amounts of dollars, often not budgeted for, in the vain hope that the ‘too good to be true’ claim, might just work.
But when the small business community forms a massive 97% of all businesses in Australia, hinging success on a strategy that is either difficult to measure, or using unfamiliar technology would seem foolhardy and too big a risk for most. By the time a business owner has resorted to such schemes, they have reached the point of desperation and undoubtedly lost sight of the fundamentals of marketing in favour of quick, easy fixes that are no more than cleverly marketed propaganda.
Susie Campbell, founder and Director of Little Black Book Marketing, an agency whose mission is to simplify marketing for SMEs and deliver cost conscious, target driven strategies, explains why her client base of disgruntled, disillusioned business owners, is growing rapidly:
“There are no magic pills in marketing. Anyone who can upfront, claim to be able to generate 6 or 7 figures for you overnight has not understood your business. Marketing is the simple marriage of understanding a need and delivering a solution to that need to those in need. And from the outset, the understanding of that need involves building relationships, empathy and knowledge and deep insights of those in need – the ‘target market’. Templates and cookie cutter marketing simply doesn’t work. It may have worked for the person trying to sell their success to you, but you aren’t them and the chances are, they have never operated a business in your industry. Not one of my clients is the same and no two marketing campaigns are either. My job would be a whole lot easier if they were! And in this ever-growing world of technological innovation, online and virtual opportunities, marketing has become over complicated and expensive when it really doesn’t have to be and frequently, overlooks the power of good old communication and collaboration,” says Susie.
“Which is why I love partnerships. A partnership can afford business owners a simple, cost effective alternative to the current, overwhelming marketing noise. I started my business with zero cash and simply used connections and partnerships to launch. It’s all about getting out there and communicating! I didn’t have a website or even a social media presence,” explains Susie.
Finding the marketing strategy that suits you can be the key to success
One business owner, Jason Doueihi, founder of Workers Compensation Specialists, based in Parramatta previously overwhelmed and struggling with marketing, discovered the power of partnership marketing. Jason shared how he was able to grow his business significantly using what he now describes as a highly lucrative, yet underrated strategy. He had identified that all of his clients had found him through word of mouth and referrals and so the logical step was for him to find more loyal referrers.
“I’m not a natural salesmen and also struggled with the popular marketing strategies of online advertising and social media. More traditional methods such as mail drops and newspaper advertising just didn’t fit either and I wasted hundreds of dollars of my marketing budget on strategies that simply didn’t deliver and moreover, were not easily measured for their financial return. I knew there must be a more cost effective way to market in a B2B environment”, explained Jason.
Jason’s approach is no secret to Susie and many other partner savvy business owners. The simple, yet highly effective strategy of partnerships is something they use almost exclusively. They know that by identifying another business that has the same target market and by understanding the assets of both their own and the other business, a win-win situation can be created.
But like any business opportunity or marketing strategy, care and planning is required if it is to be successful. Evidence shows that a well-executed partnership must meet the following key characteristics, essential to the success; if one element is missing, the relationship is almost certain to fail:
· A clear win/win – there must be a gain for both parties, without it, one party may become disillusioned and the relationship break down
· Value alignment – partnering with another business that does not share your values or standards is likely to result in resentment and eventual failure
· Aligned Target Market – this is essential to ensure the win/win and for any benefit to be gained
And like all marketing strategies, a degree of knowledge is required to execute effectively and this is where many are falling foul explains one of Australia’s foremost Strategic and Marketing Partnership authorities.
Simone is the Founder and MD of Partner2Grow and teaches the importance of being ‘partner ready’ whilst showing business owners how to leverage the power of partnerships and explains how Australian small businesses would be remiss to overlook the rewarding possibilities that partnerships can present:
“Partnerships enable you to create unprecedented growth, resilience and constructive disruption, regardless of size or the industry you’re in. It’s a solid growth strategy used by the world’s fastest growing and most successful companies. Resilience rarely happens without the support of the right partners – strategic or marketing partners, staff, suppliers, clients, family or friends. A by-product of creating a partner-friendly culture is much stronger and more productive relationships with all key stakeholders in your business, cultivating greater loyalty and higher profits,” explains Simone.
Many entrepreneurs need partners to take their businesses to the next level. Partnerships are powerful and exciting – but when businesses get it wrong, sadly they usually realise when it’s too late. Negotiating the complexity of finding the right partners and ensuring that the best possible deal is struck is crucial.
In a world that is moving so rapidly, Aussie SME’s need to keep up if they are to survive and partnerships can provide the answer. The right collaborations can promote business growth, resilience and the ability to disrupt in a way that allows it to survive and propel forward. Conversely, a misaligned, unequal or poorly executed partnership can have catastrophic consequences for SMEs.
When the Marriage Breaks Down – The Pitfalls Of A Partnership
A small direct wine company in Adelaide, recognising that partnerships could be the key to growth, had the smarts to approach a major bank in Australia and they scored a deal to offer bonus points to members of the bank’s very large loyalty credit card program.
This partnership grew their business by two thirds almost overnight! Aside from the growing pains, they enjoyed a successful partnership for many years. They offered a great service and they provided high service levels and a quality product to the bank and its customers.
However the industry grew more competitive and this still relatively small company was so focussed on this great partnership, that they did not mitigate their risk by ensuring they had a diversified partnership plan and strategy in place should this partnership cease.
That day inevitably came. A larger player in the wine sector realised what a great opportunity a partnership with a bank was and pursued it for themselves. Around the same time some of the key people in the bank that the small wine company had built relationships with, left and almost overnight their business declined rapidly.
Although there are some great lessons here about what this company did right, there is no getting away from the enormous oversight of contingency planning to protect their company from near failure. Putting ‘all your eggs in one basket’ is never a good idea when it comes to partnerships – neither is spreading too thin. It’s about being methodical in taking the right steps to make the most of the best opportunities to grow and protect your business.
When Budgets Are Tight ROI Is King
Tara O’Connell, founder of The Baby Diaries, a mobile health solutions App with the aim of helping new parents across the globe to keep track of their baby’s daily functions (sleep, feeds, nappies), growth, milestones and memories, embarked on partnerships as a marketing strategy almost immediately. As a single mum with a 3-month-old baby, her budget was extremely tight and having been burned by a disastrous magazine advertising campaign returning zero return, she discovered partnerships. Tara described her venture into partnerships:
“I think initially I struggled with understanding my assets and having a lack of confidence that any large business would be interested in a small business like myself. My first hurdle had been understanding what I had to offer. We all have assets regardless of our size; it may be a small social media following that is highly engaged; we may have won awards; we may have access to large networks; it may be our Intellectual Property that is a key asset. Knowing those assets is the first step,” explained Tara.
“As soon as I realised this, I realised I was onto a winning formulae. Partnerships are fantastic. They can literally catapult your business to hundreds, thousands or millions of your ideal customers. However, my word of warning is to only partner with others who share the same target market, the same values, and the same level of motivation for the partnership to work and an attitude of abundance. If any of these things are missing then the partnership may fail and, at best, you would have wasted your time,” warns Tara.
Small business paired with big business – does unequal spell danger?
For a business at any stage and size, partnerships can provide access to the resources needed to evolve and respond to emerging opportunities and challenges, with speed and precision. And it’s not only SMEs that can take advantage. Big business has been partnering for years with many famous examples such as Disney with McDonalds. But there is nothing preventing small partnering with big.
Jodie Blight, writer and creator of an interactive cookbook, Summer Table and accompanying App, has been working on a single partnership for almost 2 years and is still a long way off from signing a deal. In the crowded world of cookbooks Jodie knew that she needed to do something different and so built an App, which enabled users to scan recipes from a book to create a shopping list on their smartphone with all the ingredients sorted to the corresponding supermarket sections. It turned out, no one had done this before and therefore the next, most obvious progression was to license the App to other publishers as well as to supermarkets and retailers.
Jodie explained why her experience of partnering with larger businesses became an extremely frustrating process:
“The hardest part of small dealing with large in my experience is response times. SMEs are generally very responsive and nimble as the partnership and proposition is almost certainly your top priority and your livelihood depends on closing the deal. Conversely, your concept or idea is a mere smudge on the list of a large businesses’ priorities; consequently your dream is added to the to-do list but not necessarily at the top or even close!” says Jodie.
But it can be the ‘where to start’ that is the cry of many SMEs. It is not uncommon for SMEs to doubt their value, lack the nerve or underestimate what they have to offer a large organisation, or simply make assumptions about how difficult it would be to find the right person to pitch to and therefore never pursue one.
“I shudder to think where my business would be without partners and am relieved that I didn’t allow fear to prevent me from pursuing them. I might be travelling around leaving flyers in shopping centre baby change rooms in the hope that someone will buy my app!” laughs Tara.
There are no secret tricks to pitching to a large organisation. Of course, having a warm contact within the business being approached can help enormously, however the good old method of picking up the phone, can work just as well.
“And being prepared,” says Susie.
“By creating a one or two page Opportunity Summary, outlining exactly what you have to offer and the benefits to a potential partner, can save a huge amount of time and quickly communicate your partnership requirements and reflect your brand and values,” Susie explains.
Reckon, an international Cloud Accounting Software company who Susie recently brokered a partnership with for one of her SME clients, explained why the small business sector is a key target when it comes to seeking partners:
“Small businesses are a very important target market for Reckon. There are over 2 million small and medium businesses in Australia; they are the engine room of our economy. Aussie SME’s have a ‘can-do’ attitude and an entrepreneurial spirit, which align with our core values at Reckon. As they are on the front line of the economy, their feedback and insights can assist with product improvements and help shape new product rollouts and market messaging. The needs and strengths of a larger organisation like Reckon and a typical small business is often opposite and complementary which make potential partnerships with them, more attractive,” describes Sam Allert, Managing Director at Reckon.
“Some of the advantages that we have discovered through our small business partnerships include their ability to anticipate market trends faster than big businesses, adopt new technology faster and operate a leaner business structure than many larger organisations. They have their ear to the ground and understand what resonates in their local communities; their insights on trends and what drives the market, assists us greatly,” enthuses Allert.
It’s an exciting time to be in business! 85 per cent of business leaders want to collaborate more with small to medium enterprises (SME) (GE Global Innovation Barometer 2014.)
Strategic and marketing partnerships enable a business to create unprecedented growth, resilience and constructive disruption, regardless of size or industry. It’s a solid growth strategy used by the world’s fastest growing and most successful companies. In fact, 64% of companies collaborating with outside Partners on innovation report larger revenues over the course of the year, according to GE’s Global Innovation Barometer 2014.
There are few marketing strategies that can boast the results of marketing partnerships. Traditional marketing means being out there selling your own wares. Partnership marketing has your partners showcasing your wares to your ideal customers who already know like and trust your partner. This inevitably reduces the time between customers ‘meeting’ a business and buying from them, in effective reducing the sales funnel significantly.
Partnerships are undoubtedly powerful and with the right preparation, contingency, planning and attitude, Aussie small businesses can implement this potentially lucrative strategy and reduce dramatically, marketing budgets and expenditure.
Susie Campbell is a marketer, publicist, speaker and huge fan of finding free or low cost alternatives to growing start-ups and small businesses. Not one to follow the crowd, coining the term #sheepmarketing, Susie will take a business back to basics and open their eyes to a more creative approach to marketing and show businesses how to really engage and communicate with customers and invariably, throw in the odd partnership opportunity into the mix.
Love it or hate it, Social Media has become a huge part of the world we live in today, providing its own unique influence on modern culture. In 2017, almost 8 in 10 Australians were on social media, universal among all age groups: 18-29 years (99%), 30-39 years (96%) and 40-49 years (86%). And of course, within these numbers are many businesses, using social media to influence and market themselves, with many of these businesses outsourcing their social media entirely.
Now we are big fans of outsourcing and indeed experience the many benefits of outsourcing elements of Little Black Book Marketing, however when it comes to social media, we believe businesses should avoid doing so entirely and this is why;
The benefits of outsourcing
Many businesses come to us with the intention of having their social media managed – enabling them to instead focus on day-to-day operations – makes sense. However while we can use our expertise to research and post relevant and quality content, interact and engage with consumers, reflect your tone of voice, collect and analyse data for you and follow this up with recommendations for the future, the one thing we cannot be is ‘in’ your business daily.
We are not sat in your office, in your store or clinic and nor are we meeting your customers face to face aside from the times we may visit you. There will be heaps of things that happen in the blink of an eye that are social media worthy and it is these elements of your business that you need to capture. They are unique to you and in the world of social, highly valuable.
What outsourcing social media can deliver however, which is extremely valued, is the guarantee that posts will be posted, your page will be looked at daily and your content plan will always be filled! Something we know that clients struggle to do consistently. So, where are the drawbacks?
The drawbacks of 100% outsourcing your social media
Just as the name suggests, the most important element of social media is the social component. Your followers want to see your personality through social media and know feel there is an element of personal interaction – not bots or automated messages. We call it ‘of the moment’ posts.
Let’s take for example one of our clients – Direct Vet Services. While we post post for them regularly and manage their content on Facebook, Dr Karen and her team constantly compliment our content by posting their signature touch of humour, heart-warming stories and videos from goings on in the clinic, which can sometimes be a little chilling (e.g. removing rocks from snake’s stomachs or extracting pups via caesarean) yet very engaging! It’s not quite what you’d expect from your local Vet, but it is what her customers have come to expect from her – and that is why it works for them. They have super high engagement consistently. Their Facebook page has created a strong community of pet lovers and loyal fans, which allowed us to spot a successful media story for them too.
Using social media is a great way for you to gauge what your consumers want and feel – the comments and questions, which are directed at you, are in effect a fabulous focus group.
So even if you do outsource, you need to ensure you or your team members are committed to being involved too. And be creative with social media – mundane and constant sales posts will rarely engage your audience – have some fun with social media and mix it up – videos, memes, FB lives, events.
To book in a call with us to see how we can support you with your social content – simply click on the link!