From selling to millennials to leveraging new trends, a business marketing strategy is a process constantly under pressure and in need of innovation. Find out how five British SMEs have tackled the issue.
With marketing channels expanding and evolving rapidly – especially in the world of social media – and customers becoming increasingly capricious, developing a business marketing strategy that stays relevant is more of a challenge than ever. Smaller, fast-growing companies have to be ready to change strategies quickly and easily. For those working in competitive markets, agility is particularly important.
The right communication
“Back when we started Party Hard Travel, our marketing strategy was all about the pricing – we thought that this was enough to win young people over,” said co-founder Nathan Cable, who also handles marketing. “But we quickly realised that customer experience was just as important, and we had to change our strategy to reflect this. We now give much greater focus to our product offering, and this massively helped us to grow and develop the brand.”
Party Hard Travel, which is based in Guildford, was founded in 2014 and expects to turn over around £18m this year. It targets 18-24 year-olds – a demographic that listens to music on Spotify, gets their news on Twitter and are influenced by YouTubers and Instagram stars, rather than traditional ad campaigns. “We had to think about unique ways to promote our new resort events for 2018 – Party Hard at The Zoo,” explained Cable. “What we came up with was a UK-wide club tour on the theme of Party Hard at The Zoo. We staged a takeover of super-clubs around the UK with a zoo themed event featuring animal inflatables and a celebrity DJ. We were able to engage with our target audience right where they want to engage with us.”
For Private White VC, which also operates in a fast-moving environment, the change in business marketing strategy was even more fundamental. “We essentially ripped up the traditional rulebook of retail and wholesaling,” said James Eden, founder and CEO of the retail company, which opened its doors in Salford, Manchester, in 2010. “We’ve done a 180-degree turn on pricing. It’s now a much more direct to consumer model – with prices we consider to be fair and a transparent approach to marketing and communicating.”
This involved a radical revamp of the website. “We offer total transparency on where our products are made, who makes them and what the costs are. We want people to really understand the whole process of how luxury products are made,” said Eden. “People respect brands that stand for something – we stand for super high quality at a fair price.”
When Nimisha Raja, founder of Nim’s Fruit Crisps, began to think about how to keep the business marketing strategy of the company relevant she decided to dispense with the services of a marketing consultancy and to bring it in-house instead. The company is based in Kent, was founded in 2016 and currently employs 12 people.
“I’ve had some success, but it’s all been very haphazard and doesn’t quite manage to hit the spot. As such I have just taken on a full-time, in-house marketing manager to develop a sustainable strategy that will excite customers and retailers,” she revealed. “Our business is fairly unique in that we are a brand with our own manufacturing facility and our products are so innovative – we needed someone that’s based on site, so they can enjoy an immersive experience and really reflect what the brand is about in every marketing activity we undertake.”
The new approach will involve small daily meetings with the marketing manager and weekly updates to look at what is working well and what isn’t. The intention is also to identify topical issues that the company can exploit in marketing terms. “This will allow for quick adaptation to new trends and it enables a constant feedback loop, ensuring that our marketing remains accurate and on brand,” said Raja.
She has come to the conclusion that handing over your marketing strategy 100 per cent to an agency is wrong if you’re a small brand and have something to say. “Nobody knows your brand like you do. Honesty and authenticity are the only effective marketing techniques. Ensure that everything reflects that, and you’ll see results.”
For Jane Gokgoz, who founded the Personalised Gifts Shop in 2011 with a budget of just £5.50 but has now grown the Northamptonshire-based business to sales of around £4m, a mix of in-house and external marketing has worked. When she changed her business model to produce items internally, rather than buying in and then selling those produced by others, she needed to update her business marketing strategy to make it relevant to the new model.
“I think it’s important to let experts in their fields deal with what they know about – although I make sure that I’m kept in the loop so that I can give my feedback,” she added. The company now uses search engine optimisation (SEO) for its website plus social media such as Instagram and Facebook. Speed is of the essence.
“All of our design and production is now done in-house,” said Gokgoz. “That means that we can source our own products. We look at what we think will be trending so that we can source relevant items but we have to be very quick. If we get product up online you can bet your bottom dollar that another business will do the same sort of thing very soon afterwards.” Content marketing, she explained, is also very important. The company picked up on the recent Royal Wedding, producing blogs and other content related to the event.
When intranet provider Oak moved its operations to the cloud in order to facilitate growth the company realised that it would have to update the business marketing strategy accordingly. This could only be done by talking to customers. “Consistently, they said that they chose us because the solution was straightforward and, importantly, our interaction with them felt natural. We were being ourselves and treating them as normal people,” said managing director Sukh Ryatt.
“With the 20 plus years of experience we had under our belts, we also knew we had some great content to share that would really help our clients and prospective clients. We used that to develop a solid content strategy, focused on them and solving their issues, rather than talking about us,” he said.
They developed content that they could repurpose across different channels while ensuring that it would grab the attention of audiences however they came to it and would focus on what interested them.
“This didn’t necessarily mean a sales related action, such as a request to see a demo of our solution, but an action to participate in something, whether that’s a discussion, an event, blog or a webinar among other activities.” An authentic voice was crucial to this element of the business marketing strategy. “It just needed to sound like us.”