It all used to be so easy when it came to your marketing.
Sit down during a quiet patch, work out how much you could throw at it for the year, call in your various experts and voila – your annual marketing was done.
Easy, convenient and at the time, cost-effective.
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And then along came all this new fangled computer stuff.
All of a sudden we had to stop investing in the tried and true and instead throw it at techniques we’d never even heard of, let alone understood.
New, weird kids on the block
Instead of column centimetres and spot colour it was pay per click, search engine optimisation and something called bounce rate.
No wonder so many business operators put it in the too hard basket.
But this was the new way. If you didn’t do it, you wouldn’t be found on Google and your business would be sucked into a digital vortex.
And there was no shortage of people wanting to assist you. From your nephew to a subcontinental SEO guru to the former Yellow Pages rep.
In many cases, the time poor and overwhelmed smaller business operator played marketing spin the bottle to determine who to try out on this brave new marketing world.
The problem, as it has always been, is that different marketing techniques work for different businesses.
The new marketing mix
For some, a presence on Google would be the be all and end all, just like Yellow Pages was for many not that long ago. For others, a campaign on television or radio would provide them with all the leads they need. For others still, some less prominent techniques like sponsorship or trade displays.
So businesses still require the magical ‘marketing mix’ to get to their markets. It’s just that now, the mix was more diverse than ever.
And your all-important ‘call to action’ was not that mainstay of the past century, your phone number, but your website and its address.
As this diagram indicates, what was already a wide range of options for your marketing dollar became a virtual smorgasbord.
And this introduced a new dilemma – co-ordinating your disparate marketing requirements.
Big help for big players
Larger business had advertising agencies and marketing managers to ensure that all of the different parts of the pie worked together.
That the radio promotion would be co-ordinated with the website and on the eNewsletter. That the promotional message was consistent whether it appeared on billboards, magazine ads or transit ads.
In other words, your marketing mix was co-ordinated to ensure that each component would leverage another to create a compelling call to action.
Without this, there was not only the danger of fragmenting the communication and losing your audience, but that too much was spent on a single technique and mishitting your market altogether.
The problem for smaller business is that this marketing and/or advertising expertise doesn’t come cheap.
Agencies wont ‘get out of bed’ for less than several thousand dollars and the reality is that many smaller businesses just don’t have that kind of coin at their disposal.
What often results out of this conundrum is that the already time poor smaller business operator is forced to deal with a number of disparate providers, all of whom want to extract the most dollars from them and keeping their fingers crossed that between them, they wont do too much damage to your brand in the process.
And that you might actually get some good new business leads.
Integration the key
But now more than ever, it’s important that someone with some expertise across all of these promotional tactics is pulling all the elements together.
Again using the diagram above as an illustration, if there is too much emphasis on any one area, your marketing mix can become unbalanced, and your new business leads will simply slide off to a competitor.
What’s more, the time you spend co-ordinating different providers will eat away at any income that ensues from this uncoordinated approach.
So instead of trying to juggle a number of conflicted providers, try and identify a provider who will impartially pull all of your marketing requirements together to provide a single co-ordinated and cost-effective marketing solution.
It will be time and money very well spent.
In addition to being a leading eBusiness educator to the smaller business sector, Craig Reardon is the founder and director of independent web services firm The E Team which was established to address the special website and web marketing needs of SMEs in Melbourne and beyond.