As 2013 thunders into Q4 many businesses are seeing an uptick in sales as the recessionary environment cools and the real estate market rebounds. Ironically, despite recent government and political ills – private industries are humming with mergers and acquisitions up 40.2 percent in the 2nd half of 2013, a historical indicator of corporations starting to take risks again. Yet for small businesses, this uptick offers a new set of challenges; including playing catch up.
In post recessionary times, business owners often pull back their budgets by cutting marketing first. Yet history proves over and over again this is a big mistake. Businesses that held steady or increased their marketing efforts during prior recessions saw a 200% post-recession gross increase. Add in the continuously changing business landscape and you are bound to fall behind in more ways than one. Consider technology, the onslaught of social media outlets and changing marketing trends. Businesses owners have to make one tough decision after another to decide where to put their hard earned dollars. The unknowns and complexities often make it difficult to take action, but lack of action is often responsible for profit and growth demise.
Most successful companies have learned taking action is mandatory for business growth. In fact, 86 percent of executives agree advertising in a down economy keep a company at the front of the audience’s mind, while 48 percent of adults believe lack of advertising during a recession indicates the business must be struggling. Marketing is necessary to keep your business front and center; fresh in your consumers’ minds.
It has become obvious, pumping money into traditional marketing plans is not good enough anymore. Staying ahead of the curve, knowing the “who, what and where” is more critical than ever.
So how do you find out these critical markers of marketing especially when you have limited resources compared to big corporations?
Market research is a great place to start. But not the type of typical market research most of you may be familiar with – endless pages of convoluted surveys, numbers and graphs you are left to decipher what they mean.
Instead we are talking about research that is highly targeted to help you figure out the who, what and where of your target market. Imagine having the inside knowledge of what makes your ideal customer happy, angry, distracted, motivated and ultimately pay attention to your brand. Large corporations with deep pockets have been using market intelligence to gain their massive market share for years. For small businesses, Googling is often the extent of intelligence gathering before running sales and marketing programs; leaving trial and error and the ‘wait and see’ methods to test the effectiveness. During times of rising advertising costs, this is an expensive cycle, both in time and money.
The playing field can be leveled.
The answer is education-based market research that uncovers the critical factors that make your audience tick and the intelligence you need to produce hard hitting sales and marketing campaigns. I personally have seen these expensive mistakes time and time again. Companies focus their advertising efforts on what they think the audience wants by trial and error vs. having actual knowledge of the needs and wants of their audience. Having the critical edge of audience intelligence yields higher conversions, increased ROI of marketing, a softer sell, better rapport and higher trust.
Since “53% of consumers say most marketing is just a “bunch of B.S.” knowing your audience closes this gap
Small and medium-size businesses all over the globe can gain critical knowledge using relevant market research and education-based marketing techniques. Having targeted, disseminated and useable research can catapult your companies’ sales and marketing programs to produce more qualified leads and powerful content that moves your brand and the people it serves. The initial step of action is to get guidance on where to spend those hard earned dollars.
“Stop Selling - Start Teaching” - Chet Holmes