Heck Sausages - Small Business Marketing
We do enjoy watching Alex Polizzi’s, “The Fixer” and this week was no exception. It was all about a family sausage business called Heck. It’s run by Andrew and Debbie Keeble aka Andrew and Debbie’s Sausages.
Alex advised Heck to upgrade its packaging to include: “who they are, where they’re from, what they do and what they believe in”. Heck Sausages is a family run business. Alex suggested that this fact should be stated on the Heck packaging. This is when it gets interesting …
Is it better to make your business look larger or smaller?
In this blog, our Chartered Marketer, Vicky Vaughan, asks the question: Is it better for small businesses to look larger than they are? Or like Heck Sausages, should small businesses promote themselves as a small, family run business?
Some smaller B2B businesses try to look larger because they think that’s what their customers want. Large is perceived to be less risky to do business with, although this is not always true. My question to small businesses: Have you ever asked your customers what size of company they prefer to do business with? What do your customers perceive to the the advantages or disadvantages of small/large suppliers? Many businesses prefer smaller suppliers because they feel they have more power over them.
The independent high street deli and “Shopping local” has become fashionable again thanks to our celebrity chefs – we now like to know what is in our food and where it has come from. These delis do well to promote themselves as independent and perhaps as family run, although there is a fine line between looking like a professional business and home-made cottage industry. This is why it is essential to use a professional branding agency to work with your business.
So the answer?
I would suggest that it depends on what type product or service your business is selling and how long your business has been established. Would you buy a mobile phone from a brand new husband-and-wife-business-set-up with no track record? Buying a pack of sausages from a family run business is less risky – so long as you can be sure the sausage manufacturer has a good hygiene rating – we will discuss this and accreditations later on. Other businesses that can afford to promote themselves as small or family-run outfits are retailers such as jewellers, hardware stores, pet shops, insurance brokers and car showroom businesses which are part of a franchise.
Consumers and businesses have one thing in common. They want value and quality from their suppliers. Value may come in the form of customer service, differentiation or price, although research shows that customers are less interested in price these days. Mass marketing is long gone and most people prefer a tailored approach, so developing a marketing strategy is essential so you can gain sustainable competitive advantage no matter what size of business you are.
Small things come in beautiful packages and that includes businesses. If you are 100% sure you want to promote your business as a small business. Here are some ideas to get you past Go.
My advice is to think what annoys you most about large corporate companies and do something different.
Promote your customer care and service
Do you think that smaller family businesses are perceived to be more caring? I do. I recently went to The Range to buy a new jubilee band for my BBQ gas hose. Why The Range? Apparently The Range sells anything worth having including BBQ gadgets. Unfortunately, The Range’s assistant could not assist as he had no product knowledge so I left the store feeling frustrated. I then trundled off to a nearby family-run hardware store – the owner was about to close up shop, but he let us in, was very helpful, he knew everything there is to know about jubilee clips and sold a variety of sizes. I made my purchase and left, smiling.
If you are a smaller business, get to know your products and everything about them. And train your team to do the same so they can be helpful during customer enquiries – this will give you competitive advantage. If a customer phones you five minutes before or after closing, then speak to them. Chances are that they called somewhere before you and the previous supplier was closed – this is your chance!
On the subject of phoning. How irritated do you feel when you speak to a computerised telephone system? I would advise against these. On-hold marketing is fine, if you have customers on hold when transferring them to colleagues within your team, however, I wouldn’t want my customer to be holding for more than 10 seconds. Think how refreshing it is to phone and speak to a human straight away. If your business can be efficient without a computerised telephone system, you have a massive advantage.
Promote your flexibility
Large corporate companies can’t often break the rules, unless its to their financial advantage of course! Smaller businesses can. Large corporates are trying to be more flexible and caring – have you noticed that some banks now advertise that computers no longer decide your fate when applying for loans?
Do the thing that corporates can’t. Bend the rules. If a customer asks for a slight change in your T&Cs, then consider it. You can add extras into a deal to make it more valuable for your customer so they keep coming back to you.
The importance of accreditations
Whether you wish to be perceived as a family run business or a larger business, it is important to demonstrate quality. An excellent way to do this is to become accredited in your area of expertise. For example, The Brand Surgery® is a small Chartered Marketing and Design Agency and a member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing. That means that our MD is professionally qualified to be a marketing consultant and has to undergo vigorous training each year in order to stay Chartered.
There are hundreds of professional organisations for all sorts of industries. Find out if you can join a professional organisation who will help you with training and guide you to gaining accreditations such as ISO 9001.
Invest in professional branding and marketing
There are some things that corporates do better – they invest in professional marketing and branding services – that is how they grew big in the first place! It is essential to develop a online and offline marketing strategy so you can keep ahead of emerging trends and the changing needs of your customers – whether they are B2C or B2B. Consumer needs are unpredictable and being prepared will help you adapt to the latest trends and avoid the pitfalls that Woolies suffered. You also need to consider that the mass market is no longer relevant and today, one size no longer fits all, so you must find out who are the profitable customers for your business so you don’t waste precious resources.
You need to find out and not guess what your customers wants and needs are. Find out where potential customers shop for products now and why. Do they like doing business with smaller businesses or larger organisations? Once you know the needs, your business can begin to develop an effective marketing strategy to align with its target audience.
It is also important to follow emerging trends. Look at Morrison’s, whose pre-tax profit plummet by just under a third for the six months ended 3rd August 2014. Now anyone looking in Morrison’s will see that they have attempted to recreate a less corporate feel with introducing greengrocer and fishmonger sections in an attempt to let customers think they are shopping at independent local stores, rather than supporting another chain. However, Morrison’s have obviously missed something fundamental in their marketing strategy.
Once you have obtained the relevant information which will determine whether your corporate image is small business/larger business, then you should invest in professional corporate identity, logo, packaging, brochure and website. Once you have this, you will look professional and can promote the gems that set you apart from large corporates.
I hope you found this useful. Please do contact us if you would like to know more on the subject. Should you promote yourself as a large or small business? Call The Brand Surgery, Sussex No. 1 Chartered Marketing Consultancy and Design Agency on 01903 824229 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you would like a marketing strategy developed for your business, the Government is currently giving away £2000 to businesses for business growth on a random basis. Click here to find out more.