Marketing on a Shoestring Budget Sharon Wolf, QualiData Research IncAre you trying to build your company’s brand on a small budget? Take a look at these quick tips and achecklist of questions to help identify high-impact, low-budget strategies.It is a mistake to invest any time or money in marketing before you have created a strong brand imagethat separates your localization services from the competition. Your brand image combines your productoffering, your selling proposition, your employees and their earned reputation, logo design, customerservice, and print and online marketing materials. As David F. D’Allessandro, former CEO and presidentof John Hancock Financial Services, states, “A brand is more than just advertising and marketing. It isnothing else than everything everyone thinks when they see your logo or hear your name.” This articlediscusses key ideas for brand-building and offers six cost-effective ways to revitalize your organization’smarketing efforts.Checklist Questions for Brand-BuildingBegin developing your brand marketing strategy by asking yourself the following questions:1. Who is your targeted customer?Resist the temptation to think that your potential customers are all companies that use translationservices. What special skills do you offer that are distinct from competitors? Which segment of the marketfor localization services represents the best match between your company’s strengths and yourcustomer’s needs?2. What is your unique selling proposition (USP)? What does your company offer that is not only distinct,but also better? What are your key differentiators?As preparation for developing a unique selling proposition, talk to some of your best and most loyalcustomers, and ask them what they perceive to be your company’s unique strengths – and yourweaknesses. (To read more in this issue of GALAxy on identifying your key strengths as an LSP, seeGordon Husband’s article, How Can You Differentiate Your Company in a Competitive Market?)3. What is your “elevator talk?” What single sentence describes your company’s unique sellingproposition?That simple idea should be the basis for your marketing outreach. Your logo, website, brochures, andother marketing materials should reinforce, and not detract from, your USP’s message.4. Are you communicating in terms of customer benefits? Do your marketing materials talk about yourservices in terms of how your customers benefit from choosing your company?No doubt, many of your competitors dwell on the features they offer. They simply say, “We do this and wedo that.” Go beyond just listing your services: describe the benefits of your offerings in terms of solutionsto customer needs.Marketing on a Shoestring Budget: Tips for Revitalizing Your Marketing PlanOnce you have clearly defined and put in writing the brand image you wish to project for your company,you are ready to plan marketing activities. Here are six low-cost but high-impact ideas:1. Write articles for the trade press, and volunteer for speaking engagements at trade industryconferences and seminars.These activities position you and your company as experts and leaders in the profession. The only cost isthe time you’ll need to invest in preparing articles and conference presentations. If you publish articles,post them as downloads on your website and on your Facebook page, and send them to clients andprospects.2. Review all of your marketing materials to ensure that each communicates a consistent brand image.
Ask a graphic designer to evaluate your existing logo, business cards, website, and all marketingmaterials against your USP and brand positioning statement. Revise and update marketing materials andgraphics as needed.3. Consider setting-up a business Facebook page so that you can invite your customers and importantprospects to become “friends” of the firm.One caveat – don’t waste your time setting up a Facebook page unless you have the time and peopleresources to post useful content on a consistent basis. Meaningful content includes such information as: industry trend tidbits short articles about cultural sensitivity when translating documents into other languages advice about the strengths and limitations of the latest translation software, etc.The goal of a Facebook presence is to keep your customers and prospects involved with your brand andyour company. It’s a relationship-building and relationship-maintenance strategy. The same rules formeaningful content apply to brand building through Twitter.4. Join committees and become part of the industry’s leadership.Being an attendee at localization conferences and seminars is important for professional developmentand networking, but brand building for your company happens more intensely at the leadership level.When you work on committees and give presentations, for example, your association involvement givesyou visibility and positions your company as experts and as industry leaders, thus strengthening yourcompany’s brand image.5. Prioritize relationship development and maintenance. Establish and maintain trusting relationships withclients and prospects.This is critical because customers buy services largely on the basis of trust. Set aside some time eachweek to touch base with your most valued customers and with high potential prospects. This will help inbuilding and maintaining trusting and congenial relationships. Make sure to prioritize time spent onrelationship development. Categorize your clients and prospects according to the strength of theirrelationships with your company. Focus on active clients first. Check in with them by phone and email tofind out about upcoming plans and translation services needs. The next priority should be “static clients”:those who have given your company business in the past, but who haven’t commissioned any work lately.The third group to target is “strong prospects”: people you have met at conferences and workshops, forexample, who have expressed an interest in your services.6. Evaluate the results of your efforts every six months or so.
Eliminate the tactics that didn’t produce any new business. Moving forward, focus on those brand-buildingand marketing activities that yielded the best results.Go for It!Shoestring marketing can be just as effective as more elaborate and expensive advertising and marketingcommunications campaigns – as long as you are in control of your company’s brand image and arewilling and able to invest the time and effort to continually reach out to your customers and prospects.Sharon is a marketing consultant who uses research-based insights to create brand and new product strategies forcompanies across the US and around the globe. At QualiData she serves a diverse clientele including B2B, beauty andcosmetics, food products, financial services and arts and culture. More on Sharon’s work at QualiData Research Inc. isavailable at www.qualidataresearch.com/team.html. Sharon may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.