The SME sector in the UAE witnessed spectacular growth over the past decade, with the Ministry of Economy announcing recently that SMEs today represent 94 per cent of total companies operating in the UAE and contribute more than 50 per cent to GDP.
But the proliferation of new businesses has created a crowded marketplace of companies competing for the same pool of clients. As an SME, you might assume that leaner marketing teams and smaller budgets make it hard to stand out against the mega advertising campaigns of the big boys - it’s time to think again.
One of the biggest benefits of being small is being adaptive and agile, able to try new things and change direction quickly as needed, rather than being weighed down by the red-tape that can hamper creativity in bigger corporations. The ‘work smarter, not harder’ message put forward by business coaches the world over is just as relevant in marketing.
Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to make your money work smarter with the right mix of tactics, creative content, loyalty generating initiatives, and other winning steps.
Identify your dream customer base
Be clear about who you are targeting with your product or service. This will make it a lot easier to create effective routes to market with campaigns that resonate with your dream audience and really grab their attention. Draft a list of ideal clients who you would like to work with and plan to get in touch.
Turn them into reality
Now you know who you want to attract, it’s time to go out and get them by taking actionable steps to make them yours. Getting personal and proactive with your communication is the key to winning qualified and engaged customers who belong with you.
Having a clear brand identity means that you can create messaging that is truly distinctive, perhaps quirky, certainly memorable. Don’t be afraid to get creative, throw out all the rule books, and develop campaigns that reflect your essence and really hit home. Be bold, funny, adventurous and most of all, original.
Generic content is a turn-off, which means investing in your own photography rather than resorting to the easier – read lazier – stock imagery option. Customers appreciate and value authenticity.
It may sound like a contradiction to the above point, but being consistent is not the antithesis to being creative. Your quality must be dependably high, your messaging homogenous, and your targeting consistently on point. Your customer will come to love you and trust you more for it, ultimately rewarding you with their loyalty.
A little thought
It costs five times more to attract a new customer than keep an existing one happy. So it goes without saying that the smart money is on building a strong customer retention strategy.
Also, reach out to past customers to see how they’re getting on and let them know you miss them. It’s amazing how few companies do this and it is so much simpler than trying to convert new leads.
You may think that one sure way of winning business is by slashing your prices. This market has established somewhat of a discount culture, but resist the temptation as it does no one any favours in the long run.
You may win a single piece of work but it will be tinged with a sense of frustration from the start. Discounts devalue your expertise when what you want is to emphasise why you’re a great choice. Always aim to add value and promote quality and memorability, as opposed to discounting.
Print – your secret weapon
In an age where more and more of our daily lives has become virtual, we all love an IRL connection when it happens. Receiving something physical that stimulates the senses and creates surprise is guaranteed to raise a smile and stay imprinted in a client’s memory for a lot longer than its digital equivalent.
Consider sending them something tangible - meaningful, fun or useful - and you’re likely to shine on an otherwise dull day.