MARKETING REVISITED: Do you need to change direction?

Advertisements are one of those things most of us have a love/hate relationship with. It can interrupt, it can annoy, it can lead you down a rabbit hole that you never intended to go down. If you clicked on it by accident the Big Brother Algorithms that are hovering around you, will pick it up and you may be shown advertisements about bagpipe sheet music till the end of days!

However, some advertisements become iconic. There are even polls on Facebook that ask you to post your most memorable advertisement from childhood to show how old you are. Many people cannot listen to the Carmina Burana by Orff without thinking of Old Spice – and this was an advertisement from the second half of the previous century! The advertising gurus say that referring to or creating fond memories has always been a good way to sell things. Does this strategy still hold water when we contemplate the rough seas of today?

In this post I want to consider some marketing strategies that won’t have you bailing out water from a sinking budget.

The difference between advertising and marketing

Thinking advertising and marketing is the same thing is an easy mistake to make. Advertising may form part of your overall marketing plan, but you cannot rely on this as the only way to get the word out about your business. Before you look at where and how to introduce or brag about your business, you need to spend some time thinking about very important questions:

Question 1: Why will customers buy YOUR product or service?

We refer to this as your value proposition – what can you offer that your competition can’t or won’t? It is often the little things that are the big things that sway clients.

Patricia the plumber

Nobody likes it when strangers with toolboxes come into their castles, their sanctuaries, their safe refuge from the Big Bad World. Unfortunately, there never is a convenient time for pipes to burst!

Years ago, I knew a brilliant, tool-wielding angel called Patricia. She had a small gang of women who were incredibly efficient, as many plumbers are. What set her apart, though, was that they cleaned up after themselves! Not only a cursory sweep, but they also had sponges and actual detergents! They were QUIET and warned us when they had to make a noise.

I did not mind that they were not the cheapest. They certainly were the best.

Question 2: Who are your clients?

The reality is that you cannot please everybody, nor should you try to! You need to target those you can – and want to – work with. Times have changed, as we all keep saying to one another.

  • Are you aware of any changes to your client group?
  • Have their needs and expectations changed?
  • How are you keeping track of this?

With the pandemic on hand, many people are reluctant to visit brick-and-mortar shops. Many customers are now preferring to buy their groceries online, but what do you do when you run out of milk? Checkers have introduced a service where friendly dudes on motorcycles will deliver your daily essentials (and the luxuries you suddenly crave) to your door within 60 minutes.

Question 3: How can you reach new clients most effectively?

I referred to the advertisements that sticks in your mind in the beginning. However, advertising is expensive! Let us say your car is leaking oil. Traditional advertising is a bit like taking a 20 litre can of oil and pouring it over the whole engine, hoping that some of it will seep in!

Estian the electrician

I once saw an electrician in Sea Point whose vehicle bore the slogan, ‘we’re on our way to repair what your husband tried to fix’. In the same area there was another entrepreneur whose vehicle proclaimed, ‘we will appear on time, every time’.

You may think of marketing as a big thing and that your company may not be. However, have you thought of joining your neighbourhood WhatsApp or Facebook page? You may not reach as many people in terms of numbers, but this smaller footprint will give you access to a much more focused market. It has also been proven that people are more likely to use someone local.

Some people may complain that there is often more than one person of the same profession advertising their services, so would that not be a waste of time? Well, consider going to the Mall. There is more than one shop selling shoes, correct? They are often next to each other, not so? Well, the reason for this is that people know that this is the area where they will be able to find shoes and it is easy to compare prices and brands that way! Again – it is not about being the only person who sells shoes, the question you should ask is what makes your service offering different from the next person’s?

Platforms that review services

Encourage satisfied customers to leave a comment on your Facebook page or website. You could also ask them to leave a review on HelloPeter. Research has shown that people are more likely to trust a review left by a stranger than what is written in a glossy brochure!

Things to be aware of when you make use of Social Media platforms

  1. Make sure your information is correct – not only about your products, but also your contact details and Google Maps!
  1. Do some good – if you join a local social media group to advertise your services, customers want to know that you will put your money where your mouth is – especially if it doesn’t directly benefit you. So, buy a soccer kit, help build something, sponsor a day out for a children’s home, plant a food garden. Sponsor a young person’s education in a field related to yours.
  1. Check your social media – answer questions and respond to comments. Do so on public forums where everyone can read it – even if you only say you’ll get back to them privately.
  1. Offer discounts for referrals – people like a good deal and will refer their friends.
  1. Competition time – You can also run a competition on your Facebook page, using your goods and services as a prize. In these dark times, people enjoy a bit of fun and free stuff!

A note of caution

Be careful what you and your staff put out after hours – prospective customers may well stalk you on Facebook to see what kind of people you and your staff are. An off-colour joke or derogatory statement about a person or a group of people may cost you that customer and harm your reputation if someone decides to comment on it or spread the word!

Don’t be shy

You may believe that telling others equals bragging and that it is in poor taste. Think about this: seeing someone help another, makes you feel good, right? It makes you think that perhaps there are some good people out there and that gives you hope. It also may help someone make the choice between your business and that of a rival. You are not stealing a customer from someone else. You are giving potential customers the information they may want to make a choice that is in line with their values.

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