Marketing on a Shoestring Budget
By: Sharon Wolf (QualiData Research)
26 May 2011
Are you trying to build your company’s brand on a small budget? Take a look at these quick tips and a checklist of questions to help identify high-impact, low-budget strategies.
It is a mistake to invest any time or money in marketing before you have created a strong brand image that separates your localization services from the competition. Your brand image combines your product offering, your selling proposition, your employees and their earned reputation, logo design, customer service, and print and online marketing materials. As David F. D’Allessandro, former CEO and president of John Hancock Financial Services, states, “A brand is more than just advertising and marketing. It is nothing else than everything everyone thinks when they see your logo or hear your name.” This article discusses key ideas for brand-building and offers six cost-effective ways to revitalize your organization’s marketing efforts.
Checklist Questions for Brand-Building
Begin developing your brand marketing strategy by asking yourself the following questions:
1. Who is your targeted customer?
Resist the temptation to think that your potential customers are all companies that use translation services. What special skills do you offer that are distinct from competitors? Which segment of the market for localization services represents the best match between your company’s strengths and your customer’s needs?<
2. What is your unique selling proposition (USP)? What does your company offer that is not only distinct, but also better? What are your key differentiators?
As preparation for developing a unique selling proposition, talk to some of your best and most loyal customers, and ask them what they perceive to be your company’s unique strengths – and your weaknesses. (To read more in this issue of GALAxy on identifying your key strengths as an LSP, see Gordon Husband’s article, How Can You Differentiate Your Company in a Competitive Market?)
3. What is your “elevator talk?” What single sentence describes your company’s unique selling proposition?
That simple idea should be the basis for your marketing outreach. Your logo, website, brochures, and other marketing materials should reinforce, and not detract from, your USP’s message.
4. Are you communicating in terms of customer benefits? Do your marketing materials talk about your services in terms of how your customers benefit from choosing your company?
No doubt, many of your competitors dwell on the features they offer. They simply say, “We do this and we do that.” Go beyond just listing your services: describe the benefits of your offerings in terms of solutions to customer needs.
Marketing on a Shoestring Budget: Tips for Revitalizing Your Marketing Plan
Once you have clearly defined and put in writing the brand image you wish to project for your company, you are ready to plan marketing activities. Here are six low-cost but high-impact ideas:
1. Write articles for the trade press, and volunteer for speaking engagements at trade industry conferences and seminars.
These activities position you and your company as experts and leaders in the profession. The only cost is the time you’ll need to invest in preparing articles and conference presentations. If you publish articles, post them as downloads on your website and on your Facebook page, and send them to clients and prospects.
2. Review all of your marketing materials to ensure that each communicates a consistent brand image.
Ask a graphic designer to evaluate your existing logo, business cards, website, and all marketing materials against your USP and brand positioning statement. Revise and update marketing materials and graphics as needed.
3. Consider setting-up a business Facebook page so that you can invite your customers and important prospects to become “friends” of the firm.
One caveat – don’t waste your time setting up a Facebook page unless you have the time and people resources to post useful content on a consistent basis. Meaningful content includes such information as:
- industry trend tidbits
- short articles about cultural sensitivity when translating documents into other languages
- advice about the strengths and limitations of the latest translation software, etc.
The goal of a Facebook presence is to keep your customers and prospects involved with your brand and your company. It’s a relationship-building and relationship-maintenance strategy. The same rules for meaningful content apply to brand building through Twitter.
4. Join committees and become part of the industry’s leadership.
Being an attendee at localization conferences and seminars is important for professional development and networking, but brand building for your company happens more intensely at the leadership level. When you work on committees and give presentations, for example, your association involvement gives you visibility and positions your company as experts and as industry leaders, thus strengthening your company’s brand image.
5. Prioritize relationship development and maintenance. Establish and maintain trusting relationships with clients and prospects.
This is critical because customers buy services largely on the basis of trust. Set aside some time each week to touch base with your most valued customers and with high potential prospects. This will help in building and maintaining trusting and congenial relationships.
Make sure to prioritize time spent on relationship development. Categorize your clients and prospects according to the strength of their relationships with your company. Focus on active clients first. Check in with them by phone and email to find out about upcoming plans and translation services needs. The next priority should be “static clients”: those who have given your company business in the past, but who haven’t commissioned any work lately. The third group to target is “strong prospects”: people you have met at conferences and workshops, for example, who have expressed an interest in your services.
6. Evaluate the results of your efforts every six months or so.
Eliminate the tactics that didn’t produce any new business. Moving forward, focus on those brand-building and marketing activities that yielded the best results.
Go for It!
Shoestring marketing can be just as effective as more elaborate and expensive advertising and marketing communications campaigns – as long as you are in control of your company’s brand image and are willing and able to invest the time and effort to continually reach out to your customers and prospects.
Sharon is a marketing consultant who uses research-based insights to create brand and new product strategies for companies across the US and around the globe. At QualiData she serves a diverse clientele including B2B, beauty and cosmetics, food products, financial services and arts and culture. More on Sharon’s work at QualiData Research Inc. is available at www.qualidataresearch.com/team.html. Sharon may be contacted at [email protected].