Tips for Marketing in an Upturn
Everyone is busy at the start of 2021. In certain categories — like renovation — if you’re not busy, then something’s wrong. Australians are redirecting the dollars they would normally spend on overseas travel to home and consumer goods, so this is the time for businesses to “make hay while the sun shines” and make some prudent marketing decisions. Marketing and advertising strategies should always reflect your goals as a business.
- Assess what kind of work you want to do and focus on it.
If you are getting lots of work, it’s time to think about the scalability of your business. Do you want to grow the next level, or do you want to stay small and increase earnings? Each enforces a different mindset when it comes to marketing.
- If you want to grow, pipelines need to be maximised to ensure teams are busy and stock is moving. You may need to order more stock or take on staff, but by taking prudent steps with low-risk stock acquisition, and sub-contracted employees, it is possible to minimise risk while growing. In this case, your marketing strategy should focus on who your customers are, their journey to you, and how you can find more like them. This is very much about maximising reach.
- If you want to stay the same size but increase earnings, focus on the type of customer who wants quality work, buys quality offerings, or has a large basket size. Your marketing strategy should have forensic and highly targeted focus on this perfect customer. Think of ways to elevate profile to that audience and then maximise touchpoints so it is simply impossible for them to not have heard of you.
- Don’t be complacent with the pipeline.
When the order book is full, it is tempting to forget the pipeline, but no business can afford to see their revenue jump off a cliff in six months’ time. When you are busy, it feels like you just get business from “word of mouth” and in truth many business proprietors don’t have the time to take a good look at where their business is coming from. It is essential to create your own “word of mouth” by developing a pipeline of enquiries. A robust pipeline keeps you in future work and, aside from keeping revenues strong, ensures you are not sending work to the competition.
- Keep an eye on the competition.
Consider your scalability with an eye on what your competitor is doing, as this is one business variable you can’t control. If you wish to stay small but your competitor wants to grow, they might aggressively move to acquire customers in your space. Say you wish to stay small but be known for “quality”. Develop a message that closely matches the quality goal and work it as hard as possible, so that you are perceived as the quality operator in your area, even if the competitor is perceived as a mass operator. In the COVID era there has been huge population movement, and many business owners with their own marketing aspirations have moved interstate. This means you may have competitors you didn’t know about last year. A marketing plan that is well prepared in advance can protect you from the new operator.
- Planning for a time delay in the media means a time delay in the pipeline. Most media will have an impact to market that is delayed. A magazine, for example, will have an effect on your searches, engagements and enquiries for a full six to nine months, so don’t be fooled into skipping a season, or dipping out and dipping in, as this damages long-term response. The same applies to Digital Content Marketing; it will take a few months to take hold and then it will continue a few months after the contract is served, after which response will drop off.
- Be aware of the customer journey.
Most customers experience multiple touchpoints with your business before you are even aware of them. They will see your ad in print, search online, or even encounter you in social media before they enquire. Ask existing customers about all the ways they checked out your business before placing an order — this is the customer journey. Once you are familiar with the steps taken, think of ways to maximise your presence at every step of the journey.
- Be aware of your PROFILE and what it says about you.
Profile defines the type of business you are: ‘Mass market’, ‘quality upmarket’ or ‘cheapest prices’. It seems that in the COVID era, the people who have the money are those who want to make sure they are buying a quality product or service. Make sure you are profiled appropriately. If you are ‘quality upmarket’, are you in the upmarket magazines? Do your ads look beautiful and is your presence online telling the right story with beautiful examples of work? If you are ‘cheapest prices’, you might consider some tactical web marketing where your prices are lined up against Amazon, eBay and other operators with similar products.
- Don’t be complacent with customer service.
Customers are infuriating; they are “too busy”, they ignore our communications and take too long to make a decision — but they are our future success. In truth, it’s customer service that keeps customers in your pipeline and prevents them from dropping out. Answering their phone calls and queries in a timely manner is absolutely essential. If you believe a customer has work that is below your current focus, then politely tell them so — don’t just go quiet. If you tell them that you are focusing on bigger jobs, they will understand and keep you in mind when they or their friends have a bigger job.
- Define the messages for staff to use when onboarding customers.
When a customer makes an enquiry, they are ready to buy. Therefore, it is important that in those initial conversations they learn you have won awards or were featured in specific magazines. Showrooms should include showcards, trophies or copies of publications in which your business is featured. Websites should contain logos of media that you have been a part of (Universal Media Co even has downloadable badges). As a business owner, spend time looking at how your prospects are welcomed and onboarded. First impressions are the best indicator of conversion.
- Think about market share.
In good times we all celebrate growth, but if you focus on gaining market share specifically, then you are ensuring future growth. If you focus your marketing efforts on gaining market share, you become known for “being the top builder on the North Shore” or whatever unique selling proposition that is, and then this becomes a self-perpetuating principle when the market is not so buoyant.
- Think about your exit strategy.
Although you’re making good money in an upturn, it is actually a great time to think about your exit strategy. Many businesses up the ante on their marketing, not just to acquire business, but to be actively seen by other businesses. Other businesses may wish to grow their business by acquiring yours.
Australian business people see boom and bust cycles all the time. If you have the right marketing strategy for the cycle that you are in, you will win.