By Hajra Rahim
Experts and entrepreneurs share their tips at a Telegraph Small Business Connect seminar about SME marketingLow on cash and experience, small business owners often find marketing a challenge.
So what can they do on a shoestring budget, and what’s the most effective approach? These questions were put to a panel of experts and entrepreneurs at a Telegraph Small Business Connect seminar about SME branding and marketing on Wednesday.
For Raja Saggi, head of SME marketing at Google, the best approach for keeping costs low is to keep things simple – don’t try to be the biggest, flashiest or best. Use drag-and-drop template tools such as Wix or Moonfruit for your website, which start at just a few pounds a month, he said.
Also on the panel was Kelvin Golding, small business ambassador for the Chartered Institute of Marketing, who outlined a low-cost approach known as referral marketing and advised SME owners to encourage their customers to shout about how great their shop or service is. “Encourage them to do reviews on websites such as Google Reviewsand Tripadvisor,” he said.
He also advised SMEs to think about the search terms people use online to find products and services similar to what they offer. Use an online keyword analyser, such as Google Trends, to find the relevant words and phrases, which you can use on your website pages and blog posts to improve SEO (search engine optimisation).
Alice Mayor, founder of souvenir store, We Built This City, said that Instagram was a particularly useful – and free – tool for marketing her business. Customers getting in touch after seeing products featured on the company's Instagram page helped drive sales by as much as £20,000 early on.
“We didn’t have any money for a proper shoot, so we tried to take the best shots we could in store,” she said. “On Instagram, everything has to be visually stimulating, and humour is key.
"Even if it’s just a product, it’s all about describing it with personality, which helps build a good rapport with your audience.”
Mr Golding agreed that how you talk about your company is just as important as what you say about it. Formal or informal, speak to your customers in a tone of voice that they’re familiar with, he explained. And if you don’t know what that is, ask them, he said. Pose the question: “do you like or dislike our tone of voice?”
“If you have a unique product and want to appear professional, you can easily end up explaining it with jargon,” added Mr Saggi, who advised business owners to avoid inaccessible terminology and keep descriptions short and simple.
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