Expert Corner: Choosing The Right Marketing Channel for Small Businesses

Expert Corner: Choosing The Right Marketing Channel for Small Businesses

The recent lockdown has seen experts push social media as an answer to the current situation. While this may have proven effective for some businesses, others have failed to achieve their desired results. Social media is not necessarily the be-all-end-all marketing solution for every business, and there may be better marketing channels for the current goals of your business.

With businesses facing difficult times, it is important to use their budget effectively, and not just follow trends that may not work for their situation and while having a social media page is free, running it will take additional resources. 

We spoke to Gee Ranasinha, CEO of Full Service Marketing Agency, KEXINO who details, how a business owner can establish if social media is right for them and if not what marketing channel they should choose. He points out that for business owners with limited marketing knowledge, marketing agencies should guide you in the right direction, stating, “If you don’t know about marketing, your agency should be advising, consulting, and recommending courses of action.”

The key points takeaways from Gee:

  • Simply posting updates on social media channels is NOT going to generate appreciable sales for your business
  • Paid advertising (PPC) is better suited for those that need immediate results, assuming the results required are an increase in sales
  • SEO, content marketing, advertising and influencer outreach can be more effective marketing channels for sales
  • The strategic use of social can be great for increasing the awareness, visibility and reputation of your business
  • Before choosing a marketing channel, know what you’re aiming to achieve to help measure success i.e. brand awareness or website traffic or sales?
  • An agency should be transparent about what results you can expect from your budget
  • Use word-of-mouth recommendations or independently-verified review sites such as Clutch.co
  • When evaluating a marketing agency, take the time to speak with the client references they provide- don’t take their word for it

What services does your agency offer?

We’re an award-winning “full-service” marketing agency, helping startups and small businesses in the USA, Europe, and Asia for the past 12 years. In terms of services we provide pretty much anything from a social media post to a TV advertising campaign.

Online advice often states that it is pivotal for small businesses to be on social media. What are your thoughts on this?

Social media isn’t “pivotal for small businesses“, any more than it’s ‘pivotal’ for large businesses, startups, non-profits, or anyone else. What’s crucial is the delivery of your message across the communication channels your new and existing customers want – and expect – you to be. Sure, that may be on certain social media channels. But it could also be in places that have nothing to do with social media.

What’s important to realize is that simply posting updates on social media channels is NOT going to generate appreciable sales for your business. More information here. Social channels are great for businesses to engage with new and existing customers, to find out about changing tastes and attitudes, or to learn more about the competition. But if your primary goal is for organic (i.e. non-paid) social media effects to generate sales for your product or service, there are many other things that will work much better.

Do you believe that plunging funds and resources into social media is an effective use of a small businesses budget?

If you’re looking for an increase in sales by posting a bunch of tweets or Facebook updates about how great you think you are, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. I would advise using your budget in other areas – e.g. SEO, content marketing, advertising,influencer outreach, etc. If the goal is to increase sales above anything else, organic social media posting won’t deliver anywhere near the results you’re probably expecting. If your goal is to increase awareness, visibility, reputation, etc. of your brand/product/service, then the strategic use of social media channels can offer a great return on investment. Like anything worthwhile, it requires a planned content and publication strategy and ideally should be supported with initiatives delivered across other qualified customer communication channels.

How much does a business have to spend for effective marketing?

I think this type of question needs to be qualified against a tangible business result. 

Supposing your business is selling widgets for £10 each, at a profit margin of £5 per unit, and is currently selling 1,000 units a month. If a marketing agency could increase your sales to 1,500/month, that means you’re making £2,500/month more revenue. But if that marketing agency charged you £2,000/month, you need to decide whether that extra £500/month you’re making is worth it. 

However, imagine if that marketing agency increased your sales to 5,000 widgets a month. Now, you’re spending £2,000 to generate an additional £20,000 of revenue. In this case, I think most business owners would agree the cost of marketing is pretty much irrelevant.

In my opinion, this is how your prospective agency should be looking at things. If they don’t, my advice is to run as fast as you can in the opposite direction. 

All the “Likes” or “Shares” in the world don’t mean a thing if you cannot attribute efforts into revenue. At the end of the day, that’s the yardstick by which ANY business is measured. Your bank isn’t going to extend your loan just because your marketing agency gave you 5,000 more Facebook followers. 

If your business is looking for finance for marketing or any other business purpose, find out our range of flexible loans.

Many business owners hire agencies to run their marketing. For those looking to do so, but with limited knowledge, describe what should be expected from an agency?

Any agency should be upfront, pragmatic, and realistic about what can be expected for whatever budget you’re working with. They should be setting levels of expectation as to what the outcomes could be, based upon current tactics. If you don’t know about marketing, your agency should be advising, consulting, and recommending courses of action. They’re not just there to take your money every month, only to pass the buck when results don’t meet expectations.

How can a business owner track if the agency is worth the cost?

Before you start, decide what ‘success’ is supposed to look like. 

Maybe you’re looking for “Likes”, “Shares”, “Retweets”, etc. to increase brand visibility and awareness. Maybe you’re delivering an ad campaign on social channels to increase new-business sales by X% over Y timeframe to a particular customer profile, or segment. Once you’ve defined the outcome you’re looking to achieve, you and your agency can put in place the appropriate measurements to see how well – or otherwise – the tactical plan is working out for you. Only once you have a clear metric by which to measure, can you track and decide whether the agency is worth the time/money/effort for your particular business.

After a realistic period of time, you should then sit down with your agency to review results. Find out what’s working, against what needs changing, and decide together how to tweak the plan accordingly. There’s no ‘magic bullet’ – it’s a continual process of iteration and refinement to zero-in on a result that works for you.

How can a business owner vet the quality of the agency?

Like anything in business, word-of-mouth recommendations are by far the best way to filter the gold from the dirt. If you don’t know anyone who can recommend an agency, the next best thing is to check out independently-verified review sites such as Clutch.co

Before engaging with any agency, find out more about them. Look at examples of past work, take the time to speak with the client references they provide. 

Once decided on the best marketing channel, how long does it take to implement an effective strategy? 

Marketing efforts fall into two categories that I call “fast-burn” or “slow-burn”. Examples of fast-burn marketing tactics are advertising or Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaigns. Examples of slow-burn tactics are SEO, or content marketing (blogging, podcasts, etc.)

One advantage of fast-burn tactics is you’ll see results almost instantly. Pay Facebook, Twitter, or Google to show your ad, for example, and you’ll get a ton of traffic – maybe the same day. The disadvantage is, as soon as you stop paying, the effectiveness of your campaign stops – you’ve lost that traffic forever. 

Done well, slow-burn tactics should continue to drive traffic to your site for months – or even years – after you’ve paid for them, generating a greater long-term ROI. The disadvantage of slow-burn tactics is they only start to deliver tangible results over a longer period of time.

Organic social media efforts start out as slow-burn. However, if well-managed and executed, over time they can move to a fast-burn. Let me explain: At the beginning, your social posts aren’t generating many views/likes/shares because you’re an unknown brand. You don’t have many active followers, so you need to spend time cultivating relationships and participating in online conversations to build reputation and trust (i.e. slow burn). Eventually, your channel may build a devoted following where your content gets shared widely (fast-burn), even if the longevity of the content may be measured in just days – or even hours.

If you’re just starting out, we recommend a combination of fast-burn and slow-burn tactics. Fast-burn gets you the commercial results you need today, while slow-burn invests in longer-term returns. Over time, the spending ratio between fast-burn and slow-burn changes.

What is your process for onboarding new clients at your agency?

We start with a “Diagnosis” phase to understand the business – products/services, current sales and lead acquisition processes, quality of sales collateral, current marketing efforts, and so on. Apart from research, this includes a series of interviews with key stakeholders – management, employees, partners, and customers.

Then we move to the “Discovery” phase, to better understand the market, industry, competition, customer profiles, and so on.

This is to better understand the client’s business goals, available budget, the market space they occupy, the buying expectations of their customers, and what the competition is doing. Based on the results, we’ll design a tactical marketing plan that meets both business goals and budget.

Once we’ve compiled the results from the first two phases, we work with the client to define the overall marketing strategy. This is based on the organization’s existing business plan and marketing budget limitations.

Finally, we design and execute the marketing plan according to the desired business result, project timeline, and available budget.

If you have any more marketing relating questions, visit their website for a breakdown of their service offering and to see how they can help your business.

 

Apply For a Business Loan Today

A business loan for any business purpose.

APPLY NOW