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Blending the SME marketing mix

Digital marketing is more important than ever, but how can businesses get the best on a budget? Blending the SME marketing mix is a start

Right now, you don’t need us extolling the virtues of digital marketing. It’s crucial for all business, whether the focus is B2B, retail or B2C.

Lockdown has moved everybody’s focus online. Unsurprisingly, retailers are seeing online sales increasing – fyi, 27% of UK consumers are planning to start Christmas shopping early this year – so to ignore is to miss out.

However, with ever tighter and tightening budgets how do SMEs make it work when it comes to hiring-in digital marketing expertise?

The answer lies in blended marketing. This is a time where creative and alternative ways of thinking are necessary, and why a blended approach can help your business get what it needs to help stay ahead of the competition.

What is Blended Marketing?

In more ‘traditional’ times, a business would identify a general need for a marketing professional and then hire somebody accordingly, whether that be on a full time, flexible or part time basis.

From our experience, we’ve found that with most businesses there is an element of uncertainty around what type of marketing skillset is required. They know they need marketing, but from what discipline is less clear, instead preferring to hire a Marketing Director or Manager who can then identify strategies moving forward.

Although hiring a somebody to oversee all marketing is, ultimately, the best approach, this may not be an option for you right now and where a more blended strategy can help. Essentially, it’s about hiring according to need and can be an effective workaround the budget vs skillset dilemma, enabling you to think more flexibly and move forward faster.

The reason this approach can be so effective is because there are many aspects to digital marketing – it’s not just one ‘set’ discipline – and why professionals in this space tend to specialise in different areas of the mix.

Digital Marketing disciplines include:

  • Email Marketing
  • Search Engine Optimisation
  • Search Engine Marketing
  • Social Media
  • Content marketing
  • PPC/online advertising
  • PR/Influencer relations or Affiliate Marketing

With so much choice – and we’ve only hit the tip of the iceberg in this list – how do you identify what exactly it is you need?

Bring in an audit specialist

If you already have a robust marketing team on-board, sometimes a fresh pair of eyes to look at your digital strategy, and point you in the right direction, can be the boost you need. Digital marketing trends come and go very quickly, so hiring a specialist to look at what you need in the short and long term can be invaluable.

If you don’t have a team, then having somebody assess and identify your digital strategy can also give you a better focus on hiring strategies and ensure better ROI in the long term.

A digital marketing audit can include an overall assessment or hone in on a specific discipline within the mix, such as social media, SEO, email marketing. They can also carry out a more strategic review with recommendations on how to start or pivot your approach.

An audit specialist can work on a short-term or interim basis.

Establish or ramp-up your online presence

You may have a great product or service, but without key digital elements, such as SEO, you may as well be shouting into a void.

Good content helps with rankings, but there are also a host of other areas that need to be covered to ensure you’re constantly hitting the top of Google searches.

The good news is that SEO is a discipline that has a continuous cycle or process, so once you’re up and running you can pretty much take care of it inhouse. Hiring a specialist to get you set-up, again, will save you time and will be a smart investment.

The same approach can be taken with PR. If you’re looking to do a short-term project, then taking a campaign-based approach means you can turn the tap on and off according to need and budget.

Keeping the momentum going long term

There are some disciplines in the digital marketing mix that do need ongoing support, which includes social media, content marketing and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. Maintaining an online presence to keep you high in search rankings and retain brand awareness requires a consistent approach, so this will need a more permanent hire to keep the momentum.

A short-term workaround would be to hire on a contract basis or approach a freelance specialist. That way, you save on employee costs and it also gives you the space to assess whether these are long-term focus areas.

This is a time where creative solutions are more important than ever, but businesses do need to invest to survive this brave new online world. Generating new leads, networking, pitches or sales presentations will, at least for now, all need to be digitally focused, so, as we said earlier, to ignore is to miss out.

If you’d like more information or a consultation on your digital marketing needs, then why not get in touch.