SME business leverage with Rachel Allen (Marketing)
Updated: Jun 26
Looking for ways to better serve my network and clients, I decided to try a new idea: partnering with experts across different areas to answer the most commonly asked questions about challenges small businesses face.
One of the challenges my clients come across often is marketing. I know marketing is broad, and there are many different aspects to consider, especially for B2B businesses. Before I recommend my clients to do any marketing, I always ask first: do you have a marketing strategy that supports your business strategy? And many times I find the answer is “no”.
Your marketing strategy is the foundation of your marketing plan. Without one, you could be doing a lot of marketing activity but still not achieving your business goals.
I’d like to introduce you to Rachel from Rachel Allen Marketing. Rachel is based in Hawke’s Bay, NZ. As a fractional (1-2 days a week per client) virtual marketing manager, her focus is helping businesses grow. Her service gives your business access to senior, strategic marketing expertise without the full-time employee expense.
Would you like to know more about Rachel? Then, keep reading.
Why marketing, Rachel?
Marketing is important for business growth. It makes customers aware of your products or services, engages them, and takes them on a journey to purchase. Marketing is sometimes misunderstood to be advertising and social media, however, strategic marketing is refining your product-market fit and value proposition; improving customer experience; increasing customer engagement; crafting the articulation of your unique selling points, and much more. All of these efforts are to increase revenue, which is why I view marketing as an extension of the sales team and believe sales and marketing have to be integrated for business success.
A marketing plan, a part of your business plan, creates and maintains sales demand and brand relevance and reputation. Therefore, marketing plays a pivotal role in making your business a huge success. Without some form of marketing, it's difficult to run a profitable business in today's world.
What does a day in your life look like?
I work from an amazing co-working space in Ahuriri, Napier, a few days a week with other creatives so it’s always great catching up with them. The rest of the week I work from my rural home office - it’s a great balance. My day typically looks like zooming clients, delivering marketing strategies, talking to prospective clients, and getting sh*t done. In between work, I’m racing around after my 2.5 y/o son.
Why did you start your own business?
I started my business recognising a lot of businesses need strategic marketing management but don’t need, or can’t afford, a full-time employee or they have a specific one-off marketing project to contract out.
I often work with businesses where the founder is still involved in day-to-day marketing and is struggling to do it all - or it’s not their fortė. Ideally, they’d like to step back from marketing (and typically day-to-day operations too). They’re looking to grow their business.
The other rationale behind Rachel Allen Marketing was flexibility with being a mum. Being able to work at any time of the day was important to me. The flexibility of my own business allows me to work short days, evenings, and weekends instead of a typical 9-5. It also works great for clients as turnaround times are fast.
What are the most common challenges your clients face?
Clients struggle to identify their target market, scared to narrow down and commit to a target customer for fear of missing out on another portion of the market. As I tell them, “if you’re talking to everyone, you’re talking to no-one”. You really do need to identify your target customers in order for your marketing to work. If you’re unsure, test it for a quarter, then pivot if you have to. I also see the scatter-gun approach, clients firing out lots of different marketing to no avail, which is because they lack strategic direction and the ability to reach their target customers.
How do you support small business owners to overcome these challenges?
Each business is different and operates differently, so my approach is adapted based on their needs. I offer marketing strategies as a service package because I see this as the biggest opportunity for businesses. Marketing executed strategically - supporting business financial objectives - will always be the best marketing spend you’ll do.
How do you think your expertise impacts the success of small businesses?
My number one priority is identifying a client’s target market and articulating their value proposition to that audience, ensuring that the marketing efforts made reach the target audience. This is the most effective, and cost-effective, way to execute marketing. Not only are customers doing more with their marketing budget, but most importantly they’re achieving their revenue goals.
What’s your point of difference in a saturated market?
I’m a marketing generalist, I don’t specialise in one area of marketing which comes from years of managing marketing teams. I cover strategy through to implementation and for specialist areas I engage my marketing network.
I’m commercial and demand-generation focused and my ‘non-techness’ (yes, I'm actually non-techy) and empathy for all people allow me to confidently understand customer problems, simplifying complex solutions to great value propositions. My clients are all network-driven and I think that says a lot about my character and what it’s like working with me.
One thing that small business owners could do today to leverage their success in Marketing this year?
Cutting your marketing budget unless you’re cutting your revenue projections is a mistake. Find areas in your business where you can save money or cut costs that aren’t needed and INVEST that into marketing. Rather than be scared off by the recession, find ways you can financially make marketing work to stay top-of-mind with your customers and invest in your business for the long term. It may be a competitive advantage for you to do so as competitors may reduce their marketing spend, leaving an opening for you.