Posted: September 07, 2011
David vs. Goliath, business-style: Part 2
Low-cost, high-impact tactics workChristopher J. Ryan
In my last article, I talked about how "David" companies can compete against industry Goliaths with smart positioning. The idea is to create a niche where your differentiators are without compare; something that addresses a particular market pain point that you do better than anybody else.
Now I'd like to drill down into some tactical suggestions that work well for small- and medium-sized business. If you are the David against the Goliath of your field, you've got a great filter for sorting tactics that will make your decision a lot easier: look for low-cost tactics that deliver punch.
This almost automatically rules out big ad buys and fancy trade show displays; even high-cost strategies need to be repeated to be successful. If you're banking on a few big cannon shots to win the campaign, you're robbing yourself of the chance to make a bigger long-term impact with smaller, more repeatable methods.
I've found that there are four areas of focus where low-cost tactics can be leveraged to great effect: your website, social media, email and direct marketing strategies. I have provided some tactical suggestions for each category.
1. Don't overbuild your website. There are ways to create an impressive site using less-complex open source or template approaches.
2. If possible, have an easy-to-remember website address (URL) that relates to what your company does.
3. List your web address (URL) on all of your corporate materials.
4. Make sure your web site is optimized for organic search terms. This is a low-cost strategy that will make you much easier to find.
5. Try narrowly focused, low-cost pay-per-click search terms.
6. Give some information away for free to increase your website stickiness. Offer a taste of your unique expertise in return for your prospect's data in the form of an original white paper.
7. Create many links with other sites to increase your search engine visibility.
8. Refresh your content often. Do not let the site go stale.
Social Media Strategies:
1. Start your own blog and comment on other blogs. Putting backlinks to your website in each blog comment is important.
2. Always list your web address on your blog posts and any other electronic communication.
3. Create a LinkedIn profile and set aside some time each week for updates, building your network, and participating in discussion groups relevant to your field
4. Use Twitter to find relevant posts and prospects.
5. Don't be afraid to stake out provocative or controversial views on your arena if you can back them up and artfully field comments and criticism.
6. Choose a niche where you can be an expert.
7. Write articles and get them published in online media. Many blogs will accept guest posts if what you offer is original and relevant to their readers.
8. Focus on one or two social media outlets. This concentrated attention will bring more results than throwing your efforts at five or six outlets. While you can easily exploit the number of sites out there to establish six or seven profiles, it's better to build quality engagement with two or three.
Small Budget Email Strategies:
1. Work hard to build your email prospect file of opt-in names. This will be a gold mine of low-cost leads and sales.
2. Include a promotional message and your website address as part of your standard email signature.
3. Provide links to valuable information in your emails, not just product pitches.
4. Make your emails interesting and/or unusual.
5. Run your email copy through a spam detection tool like EmailExam, Acxiom Digital, or Lyris ContentChecker to ensure your emails will not be caught in the spam filters.
6. Have an easy opt-out process. You do not want to keep sending emails to people who desire to be removed from your list.
Small Budget Direct Marketing Strategies:
1. Target your lists more effectively by using demographics, psychographics, and some of the other list segmenting tools available. The object is to mail fewer packages and achieve greater response.
2. Test your mailing and telemarketing in small quantities before committing large sums to full-blown programs. Equally important, use the information you learn on every program to make the next work better.
3. Try a postcard mailer. The production costs are low, the first-class postage is less expensive than letter mail, and they pull very well. You can drive prospects to a Web form or toll-free telephone number.
4. Cut back on four-color process direct mail packages. Unless you sell food, magazines, resort properties, or other products requiring excellent graphic reproduction, you can probably pull as much response using two-color printing.
5. Consider mailing with third-class postage instead of first-class. Depending on whether you presort the file, this will save you a great amount of money, and most prospects will not notice the difference. The exception is with time-sensitive offers, since third-class mail can take a week longer to arrive than first-class.
6. If you mail to large numbers on a national basis, or send highly concentrated mailings into local or regional areas, use postal pre-sorting to lower postage costs.
Effective business-to-business marketing doesn't have to be expensive. If you are a marketing leader scratching your head about the right mix of tactics, get your focus on two levels: How can we exploit positioning to dominate a niche that our larger competitor can't touch?
The second level: what tactics are going to give me the most effectiveness by utilizing elbow grease and minimal vendor expense? These two exercises could be the most critical in your arsenal as you seek to take the field against your larger opponents.
About the Author
Christopher Ryan (@CRyanFusionMkt) is president of Fusion Marketing Partners, a strategic B2B marketing and sales enablement consultancy based in Colorado Springs. As both a services provider and in-house marketing executive, Ryan has played a transformative role in driving marketing and sales programs that achieved shorter sales cycles, higher close rates and greater profit margins. His new ebook, Powerful B2B Marketing Strategies to Drive Awareness, can be downloaded free here. For more information, please visit http://fusionmarketingpartners.com.
Christopher Ryan is one of the nation's foremost experts in B2B marketing and sales. Author of How to Create an Unstoppable Marketing and Sales Machine (Fusion Marketing Press, 2009), Mr. Ryan is founder and President of Fusion Marketing Partners (www.fusionmarketingpartners.com). Chris Ryan was formerly a senior marketing executive at noted companies like Stellent, Inc., FrontRange Solutions, PeopleSoft, Sybase, and Group 1 Software. Mr. Ryan's latest book can be obtained at Amazon.com or at http://fusionmarketingpartners.com/get-the-book/.