Choosing the right marketing channel used to be easy for a small organisation. Stick an advert in your local paper and hey presto, people would call & buy your stuff…

I don’t know about you but marketing in small organisations is not like that anymore. Well certainly for us it isn’t anyway.

I’ve spent the first 15 years of my working life in all kinds of sales & marketing roles, working for small organisations right up to large global organisations. But for the last 15 years we’ve been trying to build & grow a small organisation ourselves.

And 1 of the biggest challenges we face today is choosing which marketing channel to use. There’s no silver bullet answer anymore, as there are so many different ones to choose from. Some might work. But others might not.

It really comes down to 3 things for us though…

  1. Knowing your target audience
  2. Choosing the marketing channel best suited to your target audience
  3. Test & measure each marketing channel to see if it works for you
  4. Keep testing & measuring to make sure your campaigns are still working

Knowing your target audience

Working out your target audience (demographic) is pretty simple. Study your existing customers, as this should give you all the information you need. If you haven’t got any or many existing customers, these pointers might help…

  • Who is your target audience
    • Consumer, business or another type of organisation (schools or charities)?
  • If it’s consumer
    • What age bracket are you targeting
    • Is it families, couples or individuals
    • What geographical area do you cover
      • By post code, town, borough, county or even country
    • You can even drill down to things like affluence, employment, interests & hobbies
  • If it’s business or any other type of organisation
    • Which industry sectors
      • Manufacturing, education, professional service etc
    • What size of organisation
      • Number of employees (office based or in total)
      • Turnover
      • Primary or secondary (high) schools, colleges or universities
    • What geographical area do you cover
      • By post code, town, borough, county or even country
    • Individual job role you want to target
      • Director (MD (SEO), FD (CFO) etc
      • Manager (office, operations, technical etc)

Choosing the most appropriate marketing channel

Once you have worked out who your customers are you. You then need to work out which marketing channel will give the best chance of reaching them in an affordable way. And there are masses now available to you. Things like…

  • Social Media
  • Your own Video channel
  • Your own website (not every small organisation has 1 yet)
    • Must be optimised for mobile first no matter what your demographic
    • Regularly updated with articles (blogs), testimonials & case studies
  • E-mail marketing
    • Existing customers
    • New (opt-in) prospects
  • Networking groups
  • Business exhibitions
  • Leafleting
  • Brochure mailing
    • Posted by you or through a 3rd party (we’ve tried both)
    • Following up with a phone call
  • Newspapers & Magazines
    • Traditional adverts (these may still work for you)
    • Press releases
    • Leaflets delivered inside
  • Bold calling
    • Dropping off a brochure to a business
    • Finding our the right contact
    • Following up the next day with a phone call
  • Radio & TV
    • Local radio can be affordable
    • TV is expensive (but is it as effective these days?)

Testing & measuring

It’s very important to take the time to test & measure every marketing campaign & channel. And analyse the marketing metrics that matter the most to you. This might be…

  • Number of leads created
  • Number of website hits
  • Number of website sales
  • Number of inbound calls
  • Increase in revenue %
  • Increase in gross profit %
  • Increase in net profit %
  • Number of widgets sold

Here are some ways you can go about testing and measuring your marketing spend…

  • Split test
    • Run 2 adverts for a short time to see which 1 performs the best
      • This can work for social media, leaflets & traditional adverts
  • Test your pricing is right for your target audience
    • Don’t just assume it’s right, test a number of options before deciding
  • Use social media sites to test marketing campaigns
    • Twitter is a great tool to test out email marketing subject lines
    • Facebook is a low cost way to do an advert split test
    • You could also create 2 different web pages to test with Google AdWords
    • Create different videos to test on Facebook, LinkedIn & YouTube for likes, comments & shares

Re-test & Re-measure

It’s not enough to test each campaign once and think it will be OK forever…

Due to the rapid changes of the digital world, you must constantly test your marketing campaigns & channels to see what’s still working, and stop doing or tweak those no longer producing results.

Regularly testing & measuring will help you keep things fresh and make sure your marketing efforts continue to thrive. Marketing can be expensive if you don’t know which campaigns are actually working for you.

Conclusion & example

We take marketing very seriously & always create a 12 month plan at the start of each year, using the steps outlined in this article. We have a number of key products and use certain channels and campaigns to market each one. Making sure we continually test and measure them. And here’s the details…

  • MY Print Service – an affordable small organisation managed print service
    • Marketed via website, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, leaflets, bold calling, expo’s, networking & E-mail
  • Infinity – a home printing solution designed for families
    • Marketed via website, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, leaflets & E-mail
  • Desktop Laser Printing Solutions –  for small to medium organisations
    • Marketed via website, LinkedIn, Twitter, bold calling, business expo’s, networking & E-mail
  • Photocopiers / Floor standing multi-function devices – for medium to large organisation
    • Marketed via website, LinkedIn, Twitter, bold calling, business expo’s, networking & E-mail
  • Broadband telephone systems – for small to medium organisations
    • Marketed via website, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, bold calling, networking & E-mail

Please feel free to have a look at our products & our social media channels. And if you see any marketing activity that could benefit you, we’re more than happy for you to give it a try too.