Marketing in a tough market – In uncertain times like now, higher inflation, ongoing illness in the community both with customers and staff and a larger number of customers travelling (because they finally can), marketing a local business has become tougher.

The “usual” marketing tactics that you have employed over the past few years may not be working as effectively as they have before because customer behaviour has changed. Realistically, this means that you have to change to. This is NOT easy or comfortable, but a must in business today

Marketing in a tough market – 1) Speak to your customers about their values and what’s important to them about your service

Earlier this year, our management team took on the task of talking to some of our long term clients in detail about their habits, the process that they took to find out about us in the first place and what is important to them.

The results were quite surprising

Firstly, I was surprised about how long it took before they decided to try our service. Often the research cycle could take over 6 months from the initial contemplation that “They needed to try to do something about their muscle strength” to them having the courage to give us a call and try the service. The intermediate steps were talking to friends, family and work colleagues about their experience with similar services. Then clients would search the companies on the internet and go through the website in detail to determine whether the service was credible and would potentially match their needs.

By the time they gave us a call, they were usually quite familiar with the brand, the service and what to expect. However, at this stage they were still happy to try out 2-3 services to ensure that the company and its services matched their needs. They weren’t fully sold yet.

The follow-up in the first few sessions was extremely important whilst the clients were still “making up their minds” whether your service was the right fit for them

Ask your clients about the process that they took to find your service and become your customers – You’d be surprised

Marketing in a tough market – 2) Make changes to make the process easier for your “ideal” clients

The next step was making change. This meant being uncomfortable and learning new things!!!!!

Because the website journey was such as big aspect of our client’s buying journey, I had to learn how our website works (under the hood) and how to make changes that would enhance the client process. This was very overwhelming at the start and brought on quite a bit of anxiety. What if I “broke it”?

In reality, I couldn’t keep the website the way it was, because it did not reflect the needs of the customers. So worst case scenario, I would ask a website designer to restore the website to the way it was and be no worse off. (Most pages have a restore button at the bottom, so you can undo your mistakes pretty quickly).

So I started. The first thing I did was re-write the flow of actions the customers would like to take when they reach our website. This gave a template of the how the journey should feel.

Then I Googled Divi themes (we have a WordPress site with Divi Themes as a theme). The resources were fantastic. I started with the basic tutorial videos and quickly understood the structure of the sections, rows and modules. This structure gave so much flexibility to make change with ease. Plus, if something went wrong, you could always restore the previous version and try again.

The first “many” attempts were a disaster, but when I look back at it, it really didn’t take long to learn how to make significant changes to the website.

As a result, the website is significantly different now compared to only a few months ago. The speed is much, much faster. The clients can get good quality information about the service and what a journey through our “process” feels like. We now have regular blogs and podcasts which inform clients about health issues they can address and works to increase our credibility in their eyes.

This process has not been easy, but an extremely satisfying experience. It demonstrated that I could learn, make change and implement new things that I had not done before. It more importantly meant that I was not stuck doing things that did not work because I didn’t know any better and could only utilize old tricks

What new marketing system are you going to “try” that make you uncomfortable, but can enhance the client journey

Marketing in a tough market – 3) Use the feedback to make changes

Just because you have made changes, doesn’t mean you have got it right or you should stop looking for further ways to improve.

Launching a new marketing initiative is only the beginning. Now you need to see how the market will react and effects of your changes.

Don’t be afraid to ask your clients their thoughts. Get them to see your material with a fresh pair of eyes and see how the changes make them feel. Does it make their experience better, easier, more knowledgeable etc. Whatever dimensions are important to them should be made easier.

If not, change it and keep making changes until it does. Your ego may be bruised and this is a brutal process, but it is how you are going to make real change to your marketing that will actually work.

One of the fantastic aspects of Facebook advertising is that results of your campaigns are very fast and specific. When you try out an ad, you see how many people it has reached, how many have engaged with your ad and how many have taken your desired action.

I have found that although I suspected a majority of our target market are female, men over the age of 45 engaged with our material almost as much as women. Only through testing and iterating the ads, the interests and the demographic spread of the ads did this come to light.

This ultimately change the direction I took with the advertising, the images I used and the demographic target of the ads for the better.

Give it try, but don’t let your ego get in the way of making changes based on client feedback

Marketing is an uncertain game. It is a game of probability and giving things a go, seeing how the market reacts and trying again. There are no guarantees because clients have a choice and don’t have to buy your product and/or services. However, everyday you can keep learning more about your clients, learning new processes and marketing tactics and giving things a go until you achieve your desired client outcomes

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