Marketing on a tight budget

Money in business is always tight. And even more so when starting a business. There are so many initial costs, renting costs, monthly expenses and business expenses. Now you want to add in a budget for marketing?

The marketing department can easily be overlooked and brushed off as not a priority cost to the company. But the truth is, if you want to bring business in and find more clients, marketing is essential to do that. And there are budget-friendly ways to efficiently market your business so, cut down on the take-away coffees if you need to, it’s time to go for marketing courses, create a budget and get your business out there.

Piggyback

So there are shortcuts for most things in life. And when it comes to marketing, there are some shortcuts here too. Piggyback marketing is when you use the success of another brand to boost your own marketing campaigns. But it obviously happens in a more professional way.

Find a company with complementary products to your own, and they’ll end up incurring most of the marketing costs on your behalf, while your product offers additional value to the complete package.

Target

You’ll save yourself a lot of time and money if you thoroughly define and research your target market and audience. Focus on the market of customers that are near to you, it’s more cost-effective and, especially if you’re just starting out, it makes the most sense. Why spend all your marketing efforts on an audience who are miles away from you and not aware enough of your brand to drive all the way just to buy your product?

Newsworthy

Get involved in innovative or community-change projects that will be worth mentioning in the media. Call in to local radio stations, make your way into the local newspaper and get people talking about you and your business. There are many simple ways to get free publicity for the company which won’t require a cash budget, just some time set aside to put in a bit of effort.

Referrals

Love the customers you already have. It can’t be over-stressed how important it is to keep current and returning customers, well, current and returning customers. As a small business with a tight budget for marketing, these people are what keep your business afloat. More than that, they have the ability to serve as marketers for your brand.

Ask your customers for referrals or testimonials that you can put up online or have them share within their own circles. Word-of-mouth marketing is a traditional marketing method, but should not be underestimated. Words have power, as do satisfied or dissatisfied customers.

Internet

The internet truly is a wonderful medium for marketing. Three channels that we’ll look into include email marketing, website and social media marketing.

There are free email marketing platforms, like MailChimp and Constant Contact, that allow you to send out mass mailers to a customer database you create. They are painless, have free templates and are a great way to communicate and share with your audience.

Another marketing method made possible by the Internet is creating a website. Again, there are free website platforms for you to make use of and having a website linked to everything you market will drive traffic to the site and, ultimately, to your store. Use your website to create tailored content that is brand specific to your business and promote your business message.

And then we have social media marketing. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube and LinkedIn are top social media platforms to work with to run organic or paid marketing campaigns (paid campaigns that work according to your budget).

In the online world (and the real world for that matter), quality is king and you’ll be wasting your own time and money if you skimp on quality to save a few bucks. It’s a quick way to establish your reputation as cheap and not be taken seriously or as a professional business. You need to be aware of what you put out there and how people respond to it.

Measure

Whatever you do end up doing with your marketing department, be sure to test different methods, measure success and analyse pitfalls. There will always be room for improvement, whether it’s from marketing during a certain time of day or knowing when would be the perfect time to extend your range.

Measure the statistics, change it up, and measure it again. It’s an ongoing cycle and you will learn what works for your brand and what you should never do again. Hopefully, you’ll start seeing an increase in ROIs from your efforts and you’ll be able to implement new marketing strategies that you couldn’t previously afford.

Why businesses should be both on and offline

With the way the world is developing digitally and all about automation, it’s understandable to have expected “online” to be the only way forward. This, however, is not the case. Businesses should have both an online and offline presence and here’s why.

Offline to online

Offline only isn’t convenient enough for consumers. And while there are advantages to having a physical presence, which will be discussed below, making use of both will make business-life better.

Businesses may be hesitant to take themselves online as an issue of security. But if they get the proper guidance, training and security software their data will be protected and their business will be able to reap the benefits of being online. The online ecommerce platform is so large and diverse that businesses would also have to up their marketing game and learn about the rules of Google. But if you’re starting a business in 2017 and beyond, startup costs are more affordable by going online. So there certainly are benefits to online.

Benefits of integrating an online presence to a business include the ability to accurately and real-time track customer interactions with your site and products (in retail especially), to almost effortlessly increase the business’s reach and decreasing general operations costs. And those are just a few benefits.  

Online to offline

Online only is open to many customer service related issues, where delivery of the product doesn’t go as planned and is damaged when the customer receives it. And the process of emailing, phoning and trying everything in the book to contact and sort out a problem such as this is gruelling, frustrating and a waste of your clients time.

Online only is an expensive marketing effort and highly competitive market where a business is either easily found or on page two of Google’s search results. In other words, completely looked over. That’s why incorporating a physical presence, even in the form of a pop-up, can benefit the business and fill in the gaps.

Like the move to online, there is a hesitance to the issue of security when moving offline and operating in a physical location. But, again, there are ways to secure your physical assets and staff. As a quick and direct example, follow this http://www.turnstar.co.za/products/automatic-sliding-doors link for some security measures ideas.

The benefits to taking an online business and giving it an offline presence include “free” marketing efforts by having a physical something for consumers to see, solidifying a brand for consumers to physically interact with and the ability to establish and maintain consumer relationships, which encourages loyalty.

Why having both is a strong business move

One just isn’t enough.


Consumers want to enjoy both strolling and scrolling through at their leisure when it suits them. They want the option and the benefits that come with both, and what is a business there for if not to meet consumer demands?

And just because a business moves from online to offline, doesn’t mean that the innovation and technology have to be “dumbed down”. Customers are looking for consistency when interacting with your brand and there are ways to integrate the digital and physical experience in store.

Having both will drive traffic back to both platforms respectively. In-store marketing with promotional hashtags and online discounts will send people to the website to find out more and, likewise, online advertisements on the website and internet will send people to the nearest store to, again, find out more.

Therefore, having both means more business and happier customers.

Following digital footsteps

Some top online businesses that have made the integration into the physical-store world prove to be more motivation and inspiration for other online businesses.

Amazon surprised everyone by building a physical AmazonFresh Pickup and Bookstores. Their motivation was to give customers a drive-in pick up point after placing orders online as a seamless transaction. Other huge brands bridging the gap and creating new channels to conduct their business, are Disney and Under Armour.  

This integrative mission is all about the future of businesses efficiently satisfying the customer experience. Whether it’s a copy and paste effort of translating an online store to a physical building, creating a physical pick-up point from online transactions, or an effort to give consumers the option to browse and conduct business from the comfort of their own homes, there are, undoubtedly, reasons to make use of this omnichannel business experience.

Why marketing management might be the career of your dreams

In the world of marketing, limits does not exist. With the amount of knowledge and opportunity available through a career in marketing management, every skill that you learn is bound to be utilised in everything that you do. So, if you’ve got a way with words, create beautiful images or really connect with people, this could be your dream career. Here are a few reasons why studying marketing is such a brilliant choice:  

Welcome to a very dynamic environment

From traditional marketing to today’s new-age digital marketing approach, the industry is constantly evolving. And along with the ever-changing technology advancement, and the amount of ideas you get to be exposed to on a daily basis, the advertising and marketing industry is mind-blowing.

In the old days, marketing either meant long, boring advertisements, horrible telesales calls or sales people actually pitching up at your front door. But with the internet adding so much value to marketing, social media and mobile have really given us new, unexpected digital marketing opportunities. It’s honestly never been easier to find a digital speciality to thrive in. And more importantly, it’s the way of the future.

The creative exposure is endless

From writing to design and film, the rewards you get from marketing are endless. On top of being creative, your growing knowledge in media and technology advertising will bring new challenges, some of which include messaging and communication. You will need to be prepared for the unknown, and to continually work at new ways to approach a problem and solve it with an ‘outside the box’ solution.

You can expect traditional marketing courses to teach you anything from the basic marketing principles, to marketing communication, sales, market research and more, otherwise the digital world offers a whole lot more. Both will teach you how to incorporate creative elements that few jobs nowadays actually instill.

You will get to meet and connect with loads of fun people

Marketing in 2017 is about effective communication and creating relationships with people beyond the sales pitch. It’s all about communicating with people and convincing them to invest in your product or service. For this, you really need to understand people’s behaviours and what makes them tick.

Each role is specific, for example, an account manager needs to be able to get along with, and engage with clients, a market researcher needs to be in touch with market trends and the needs of their audiences, and a public relations professional needs to be able to deliver news and information.

With customer journey’s playing such an important role in your marketing strategy, in order to effective in what you do, you need to be able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and understand how they think and feel. This kind of thinking also encourages teamwork and development, and teaches you how to develop and nurture creative ideas. If you love collaborating with others, this is perfect for you.
The opportunity for progression is great

Marketing companies can be divided into the agency side and the client facing side. In the client side, you will be working with the marketing department of a business or public sector, where the agency side means that you will actually be doing the advertising and marketing for those businesses and organisations. You deliver the work that was discussed with client service, and then they communicate that to the external client. Each side is completely different and requires a bunch of different skills.

When you start in client service, you can expect to be doing assistant work and helping out with client tasks, at entry level. When you move up, you can expect to manage your own clients, and your responsibilities will become a lot more stressful. On the agency side, the different opportunities available are linked to your skillsets. These positions can range from content and development, to project management, public relations and market research. For individuals who possess strong people and negotiation skills, the ideal role for you would be media buying, account managing or directing.

It’s vital to business and all industries need it

Say what you want, but marketing is essential to all industries and organisations. Whether it’s education, fashion, retail, NGOs or agricultural, every business needs some form of marketing to succeed. By applying for any one of the various marketing courses, you can help drive the success of any business.

Overall opportunity

When you think about marketing, it goes far beyond strategy. Be it traditional marketing or digital, this industry allows you to be passionate about various different roles, some of which include copywriting, graphic design, analytics, account management, web development and more.

The most important thing is to just have people skills. From there, the diversity is endless, and you learn skills that will be needed to most professional environments. If you love creating ideas (and putting them to the test), designing something, or getting technical, the creative world has much to offer. And depending on your current skills, the ability to move within, is certainly a motivator.

Making team meetings efficient

No one really looks forward to Monday morning meetings in the office. You end up staring at the coffee shop out on the street from the window instead of listening and walk away when everyone else gets up. As a business owner or department head, it’s important to make your team meetings efficient. Productivity and morale will increase if you start the day on the right note and don’t waste anyone’s time.

Here are a few ways you can consider making meetings more efficient, obviously catering for your specific business, industry and team dynamic.

Agenda

You can’t expect a meeting to be efficient if there is no agenda to follow. Create an agenda to suit the goals of your meeting and be sure to stick to it. Have a greetings and quick personal catch up to start off with (using this time to take register as well), then discuss the agenda of the meeting so everyone knows what’s up, have your meeting and end off with highs and lows of the previous week, what needs to be achieved in the week to come and then down the coffee and get everyone back to work.

Having an agenda also makes it easier to write structured minutes during the meeting and make it easier follow afterwards. Minutes also provide outlines for the week to come where your team can start thinking about what they need to prepare.

Venue

If your team spends the whole day in the office, why not have your meeting out of office? In that coffee shop that Steve has been staring at all year. Changing up the venue gets everyone a little bit excited (like children going on a school trip) and they’re more likely to be invested in what you have to say. For some reason saying the same thing but in a different environment makes it more interesting and important.

If your company can afford to pay for a coffee for the creative team of six people, why not spoil them once a week while at the same time tricking them into attending a meeting? It’s also a great way for team bonding and it makes people feel more open to engage in conversations and business discussions.

Incentive & purpose

Your employees are more likely to want to attend and participate in a meeting if there is some sort of incentive involved (then again, who wouldn’t). It can be as simple as going to a cafe for coffee instead of staying in the office or bringing doughnuts if you need to stay in the office building and there maybe isn’t a coffee shop nearby.

It can also be more intricate like incorporating some staff training course material into a section of the meeting (nothing that will take up too much time) but something that your team can learn from and take with them at the end of the meeting. You can even start a kind of book club and get everyone to read a chapter a week of something industry related, and during your weekly meeting, you have a short discussion on what was taken from it and how it can be applied in your own business.

Whatever you do, make sure you end the meeting with a purpose or call to action. With the book club example, the purpose will be to read the next chapter. But you also need to bring work back into focus and make sure that when everyone leaves to get back to work, they know exactly what is expected of them for the week and what needs to be completed or brainstormed by the next meeting. It will force your team to stay alert during the meeting and make their own notes.  

Relevance

The best thing you can probably do to make your meetings efficient is to keep them relevant. Relevant to your team, relevant to your company and relevant to your industry. If it’s not going to help the team go forward, then it can be saved for coffee-machine chatter. Moving off topic can waste so much precious time and then you don’t end up getting to what the meeting was initially called for.

Timed

With relevance comes managed time in a meeting. But in every meeting, make sure your agenda, and the items on it, have a time limit. More importantly, make sure you stick to the time limit. Time is money in the business world and you can’t afford to waste it.

Minutes

Lastly, if you want the key points you made in the meeting to remain relevant throughout the week, you need to designate someone to take minutes and distribute them after the meeting has been conducted. It keeps those who were absent, or maybe not focussing, up to date with what last week’s feedback was and what this week entails.

Would you look at the time, it’s time for a team meeting. Don’t forget the doughnuts!

Your home (office) away from home

For most, their careers consist of getting up in the morning and going to work until the end of the day. At work, they interact with colleagues, use office supplies and equipment and stick to a strict work schedule. But for some, earning money doesn’t involve commuting to and from an office. Whether you’re a business owner, entrepreneur or sales representative, you’re likely to be based at home with sporadic visits to clients or partners.

This type of career comes with unique challenges. Your schedule, deadlines and interactions are all in your hands and it can be difficult to stay motivated throughout the day and week. Especially with all the temptations of leisure at home and plenty of time on your hands. If you’re one of these people and are wondering how to optimally conduct your business at home, you’re in luck. Here are some things to consider when working from home.

Your routine

At this point, you’ll know that a schedule is near impossible to maintain at home. Everything that makes your life enjoyable is under the same roof – food, television, sleep. It can be quite the task to work a set number of hours a day when you’re not surrounded by colleagues who all work those same hours.

In order to be your optimally productive self, you need to set up a routine that you can stick to. There’s no use telling yourself you’ll work from 8 to 5 when you’re not a morning person. Consider when you’re the most productive and adjust your work schedule accordingly. Just keep in mind that the people you’ll do business with will likely follow standard working hours. Keeping that in mind, working from 6pm to late won’t be the best option.

Once you have you scheduled worked out, stick to it by seeing it as your office hours. In other words, you have to get up and get ready at a certain time in order to get to work when you need to.

Your social life

In an office environment, you’ll have many interactions with colleagues around the coffee machine or over lunch. When you work from home, you won’t necessarily have these social breaks unless there are other people at home with you. This can damage your productivity as these social interactions provide you with time to clear your head and sometimes even the opportunity to discuss work-related ideas.

To avoid missing out on these necessary breaks, leave time in your schedule for breaks, social interactions and idea creation. Take some time every hour or two to make a cup of coffee and stretch your legs. This will get the blood flowing again and you’ll be ready for another productive session.

Avoid checking your phone constantly. Instead, leave time in your schedule to answer any personal texts or catch up with friends and family over the phone. Who knows? Gran might have a brilliant idea for you to explore. And lastly, head to your nearest coffee shop over lunch for a bite and a quick internet browse to see what’s going on in your field that day.

Your environment

Office spaces are designed to be conducive to work. Your house, on the other hand, might not be. It’s important to have a designated space for work where you can sit at a table and plug in your computer. Ideally, this space won’t be in your room.

In terms of the elements inside of the room, some planning can go a long way. Think about the kind of work you do. Are you constantly on the phone with clients? Make sure you have a phone nearby. Do you need to scan a lot of documents? Ensure that your scanner or printer is close enough that you can easily access it. Nothing ruins workflow quite like having to go find the equipment you need.

In order to make your workspace fully functional, you might need field-specific equipment. Whether you’re employed and working from home or running your own business, there will be equipment finance options for the apparatus you need.

Your sanity

Lastly, it’s crucial to look after your sanity. By implementing these guidelines, you should be able to strike a balance between home and work life. The most important thing to remember is that these things are separate. When you’ve reached your knockoff time, close up until tomorrow and get some rest. After all, you won’t be very productive if you burn out.

Remember why it is that you’re working. Keep the goal in mind and remind yourself of the rewards your hard work will earn. But also afford yourself the necessary time to rest and ready yourself for the next working day.