Modern trends in sales and marketing for small businesses
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According to research conducted by a US-based marketing platform, 88% of customers say it takes three or more purchases to build brand loyalty. Brand loyalty ensures that customers continue to purchase repeatedly from the same brand, irrespective of competitors offering similar products or services. Asides consistent purchases, the perception that these customers have towards the brand is positive and enhances the brand’s reputation.
The question for many small businesses then becomes, how does a business drive customers to make that first purchase or to keep making purchases? In order to optimize profitability, it is imperative to put in place effective sales and marketing strategies for small business growth.
Sales vs Marketing:
For small businesses, it is important for both the sales and marketing functions to work together. For instance, exchange of information between both parties e.g. customer demographics is necessary in order to optimize campaigns.
Due to the fact that small businesses usually have lean teams, it is important these two functions remain distinct even if they are managed by the same individuals. However, it is also important to decipher the differences between sales and marketing in order to ensure that overlapping roles do not reduce the effectiveness of these functions. Below are some of the features that distinguish sales from marketing:
|Objective/Goals||Converts efforts to build brand awareness into actual sales thereby generating profit.||Builds awareness of the product or service/brand to target customers.|
|Strategies||Usually involves engaging potential customers in order to drive purchases. E.g making sales calls or networking at an event.||Usually involves gathering information about potential customers to see what is effective. E.g. internet marketing and print marketing.|
|Process||Usually involves creating a plan that outlines how to convert brand awareness to profit and actual sales.||Focuses on creating awareness for the brand/product/service amongst new customers or refamiliarizing them with former ones.|
Modern Trends in Sales and Marketing:
- Content is King
According to a survey of 1,000 global marketing professionals by a US-based digital marketing company, at least 47% of customers view three to five pieces of content prior to engaging with a sales representative, and the majority of customers expect brands to create content to gain their interest. That’s why global brands have grown their investments in content marketing.
Furthermore, one in three marketers leverage their own blog or website. This is because research suggests that most consumers read blogs multiple times per week and have purchased something from a brand after reading the company’s blog. Aside from providing consumer engagement and potentially converting this engagement to sales, blogs are a key tool for brand visibility and provide major benefits through websites or online pages.
- Infographics and mobile optimisation as a tool for sales/marketing
45% of marketers who leverage content marketing currently invest in infographics. Infographics are visually appealing and drive the message home in a concise and effective manner. They are an incredible engaging tool to social media audiences and web visitors. In 2021, five African countries had over 94% mobile phone ownership (meaning that almost every resident has a mobile phone), a survey by Afrobarometer reveals.
In addition, more than half of annual online website traffic comes from mobile devices, including tablets. With the emergence of Millennials and Gen Z audiences, mobile-optimized digital experiences have become more important for small businesses who want to engage this fast-paced generation.
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- Social media as a channel for customer service
Again, in this digital era and with the emergence of Millenials and Gen-Zs, social media has become an important tool for business communication and customer service. In a 2022 Consumer Trends Survey it was found that 1 in 5 Gen Z-ers and 1 in 4 Millennials had contacted a brand on social media for customer service in the past three months. It is important for small businesses to engage their customers via social media and deliver excellent customer service through this channel.
- The rise and rise of micro-influencer marketing
In order to improve brand awareness and increase the likelihood of sales clicks, small businesses may collaborate with influencers and industry thought leaders. However, one major challenge may be the cost of hiring a celebrity influencer to drive sales for a small business. This gave rise to the term “micro-influencers”. According to a Forbes publication, micro-influencers are defined as accounts with anywhere from 10,000 – 50,000 followers.
Over 56% of marketers who invest in influencer marketing are said to work with micro-influencers.
Asides cost, authenticity is another reason why micro-influencers may be engaged by small businesses. The more sponsored content an influencer posts, the more likely their followers will question their authenticity and wonder if they are just interested in getting paid. Small businesses need to properly research influencers in order to ensure that sponsored content creates the right perception for the brand.
- Account-based marketing as a driver of sales
Smart work is important in generating leads. The blanket approach to promoting views and engagement is going out of fashion. In order to generate leads, it is important to communicate a value proposition that is of interest to the customer. The idea behind account-based marketing is to understand the needs associated with specific accounts and communicate a message that meets the specific needs of the customer.
- Social responsibility as a pillar for business growth
According to research by a US-based digital marketing company, 50% of Gen Z-ers and 40% of Millennials want companies to take a stance on social issues, specifically racial justice, LGBTQ+ rights, gender inequality, and climate change. When companies advocate for these issues, it has a strong impact on their purchase decisions.
Therefore, companies have developed company policies and marketing strategies that focus more on inclusive initiatives, promotions, and offerings, while highlighting causes or missions they support. This makes social responsibility a pillar for business growth. Showing a sense of social responsibility is both thoughtful to the community and has a positive outcome of enhancing brand perception.
In the words of Laurence Capron, professor of strategy at INSEAD and co-author of ‘Build, Borrow, or Buy’, “companies must continually evolve to stay relevant, innovative, and competitive”. These three adjectives- relevant, innovative, and competitive – characterize the aspirations and struggles of many small businesses. To optimize business growth, it is imperative to have a strong evolution and engagement strategy to improve the sales and marketing function. The modern trends discussed above are a great way to enhance the brand of any small business and drive sales.
The Venture Papillon