As any small business owner knows, there is a lot of marketing advice out there, and there are dozens of things you could be doing to market your business at any one time. So where do you start?
In this month’s instalment of #humansofsensis, we speak to Erin Williamson, Brand and Marketing Manager at Yellow Pages, about her best marketing advice for small business owners.
What’s your role at Sensis?
I’m currently the Yellow Pages Brand and Marketing Manager. I head up a team of three channel-based specialists across advertising and digital, social and content, CRM and PR. I’ve been at Sensis for over two years, starting in the Trade Marketing team before moving to Yellow Pages last year.
What are you and the team at Yellow working on at the moment?
We’ve just launched a new television commercial, which is always a very exciting time for a brand. It’s about a woman, Olivia, who is clearly juggling a lot of different to-dos and tasks. Most of us, especially small business owners, can relate to this – it feels there is always more and more on our to-do lists. But we have the ability to outsource some of those tasks, which can free up time to do the things we love – to spend with friends and family, to have a break, and even to work on your business.
The ad aims to empower more women to focus on what they love and what they do best, while outsourcing the rest, but the message itself is relevant to everyone. If you’re a small business owner, you have the option to focus on your area of expertise, and to outsource the science and the art of marketing to someone who’s an expert in that area.
What do you mean by ‘the science and the art’ of marketing?
The science of marketing relates to its measurability. It’s like a formula where if you combine emotional levers with the right placement at the right time, then over time you can predict the likely outcome of any marketing campaign and measure your results against that. In other words, with enough research and understanding you’ll be able to predict what will happen as a result of any action you take.
The art of marketing is about creating an emotional connection between your customers and your business, products and services.
How can small business owners create that connection with their customers?
You need to think about what you’re selling, beyond your product or service. Often it’s hope – a small physio practice might be selling their customers the hope that they can live their lives pain-free, while major brands create aspirational marketing with messages around beauty, fitness, fantastic lifestyles and more.
When you think about your offering from that space, your marketing stops focusing solely on features and price, and starts focusing on moving your audience emotionally.
Do you have an example of a small business who is doing this really well?
Mary Mary Studio is a florist run by my friend Kate McLean, who started floristry part time while working as a copywriter.
Today, it is Melbourne’s fastest-growing florist, she has over 10,000 Instagram followers and she was named the 2015 Victorian Young Achiever.
As a small business owner, she has used Facebook and Instagram to drive 90% of her awareness and traffic, which has seen her grow into someone who now collaborates with some of the leading stylists and wedding planners in Melbourne. And it all started from a small floristry course and the ability to put pictures on Instagram.
One of the big challenges for small businesses today is there are so many marketing options available – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, SEM, display ads and more. With so many options, where should a new marketer start?
Their online presence is key. Online presence is a sign of legitimacy in this day and age – if your target customers can find you online, and if what they find is professional and provides value, then they’ll see you as a reputable business.
This idea filters through everything you do – it isn’t just the words you say or the claims you make, but also how your website is designed, whether you have a professional logo, and what you’re sharing on social media. There’s no reason why those things can’t be as professional and clean as the major brands – you shouldn’t have a second-rate presence just because you’re a small business.
Once you have your online presence sorted – whether that is with a website or directory listing – the second thing I’d do is Facebook. The ability to target a clear demographic in a localised area means that Facebook is a very efficient and cost effective channel.
What are some of the biggest mistakes you see small business owners making in marketing?
There are three big ones:
- Not investing in their brands. Expert advice is essential to create a really good brand look and feel. There are so many logos out there that have been put together by a friend, or even a graphic designer with no clear brief, and they look amateurish. Your logo communicates to your customers on behalf your business. People see it on your website. They see it at your premises. They see it on your car. If it isn’t strong and professional, what is that telling them about your business?
- Not having clear marketing goals. You have to be really solid about the your objectives for any marketing activities. Do you want to get 20 calls? Do you want to create more awareness in your local area? Your goals will ultimately define your marketing activities.
- Using all marketing channels in the same way. Not all marketing channels are created equally, and different channels will get different results. If you want to create awareness, you might invest in a TV ad, but that might not result in calls. On the other hand, if you want more enquiries but have a limited budget, an SEM campaign would be a better choice because you are only paying for the people who click on your ad.
What are your biggest tips for small businesses that want to get on top of their marketing?
First, take advantage of new technology. There are so many resources available to small business owners today that you can market your business effectively, even if you don’t have the budget or the manpower of the major brands. Today you can sit in front of Facebook Ads Manager and have just as much control and impact as the bigger brands would have in a hundred thousand dollar Facebook campaign.
Second, get help. While you’re an expert at what you do day-to-day, you don’t have to be a brilliant marketer. There are plenty of marketing providers out there offering services designed specifically for small businesses, with small business budgets in mind.
My husband is a great example. He’s a small business owner who has been a Sensis customer for the last five years. Because he works full time, he outsources all of his SEM to Sensis, which helps his small entertainment business generate a profit of $60,000 a year.
What’s next for you and Yellow Pages?
Yellow is thriving. There’s so much product innovation in the works, so many exciting things coming, and I’m lucky to have a front row seat. It’s amazing to be part of the digital future of one of Australia’s most iconic brands. Watch this space!