Continuing to improve your marketing skills is essential in the fast changing business world today.
Steve Bridson is a man with a mission. He’s passionate about helping small businesses realise their full potential through clever and targeted marketing techniques. Steve founded his mentoring business, Bucks Business Advice, in 2018, after honing his business acumen as the MD of his family business, Martinvest Ltd.
‘Branding was a major part of our client’s needs, so I learnt a lot by osmosis,’ he explains. ‘But now I’m not interested in the big corporates. A phenomenal amount of microbusinesses – those with less than 10 employees – make up a huge part of the business economy, and helping those businesses is what truly floats my boat.’ Steve’s current list of clients is diverse – but they all have one thing in common: their marketing skills need Steve’s magic touch.
Whether you’re a furniture maker or a stonemason, Steve’s first task is to run a thorough business ‘health check’. This typically takes around four hours and he will work with the client to forensically assess their company and agree on their future direction. Although he’s based in Buckinghamshire, Steve welcomes enquiries from all around the UK. He prefers ‘face-to-face’ time but can also work with clients via Skype.
Steve cites the ‘80:20 rule’ as a powerful tool to help the fortunes of a micro-company soar. ‘Typically, 80 per cent of your business comes from 20 per cent of your clients. And often, a trader will fulfil an order for a customer and then move onto the next job,’ he says. ‘But they’re missing a trick because they should be looking at building a relationship with that 20 per cent. You need to ask yourself how you can strategically promote yourself to those clients.’
Jess, the photographer Steve is working with, is already reaping the benefits of this approach. She’s tackling ‘perceived indifference’; a marketing term which describes the way clients can think a business doesn’t ‘care’ about them. Her new policy to regularly keep in touch with existing customers, combined with setting competitive prices for her work, has doubled her turnover.
Another key area to look at is a defined marketing strategy. This includes attending networking events, but squeezing the most out of them. According to Steve, too often business owners won’t arrive with a proper plan. Yes, they may meet people, but unless they go with an objective for the meeting, it’s a wasted exercise.
Steve also advocates building strategic partnerships. ‘This is about partnering with a fellow business that has the same type of client base but is a non-competitor,’ he says. ‘A simple example of this is when you’ve got a builder who can lay the bricks and build a house but he needs a plumber to install the water works and central heating. They’re not in direct competition but one relies on the other.’
Because each client’s needs vary, Steve says the time he works with them isn’t set in stone. ‘I have clients I work with on an “ad hoc” basis, or they might need mentoring over a period of time. The key thing they have in common is being accountable to someone. It’s a great motivator.’
One marketing tool that Steve admits to being sceptical about is social media. ‘It’s a grey area,’ he says. ‘If you’re in the B2B arena, the best resource is definitely LinkedIn. With B2C, you have to be very targeted. It’s about pitching yourself in the right way, being visible in the right groups and being prepared for the long game because you need to build a following.’
Of course, the real challenge is to stand out in a digital business climate seemingly flooded with infinite choices. But Steve has a somewhat surprising marketing tool up his sleeve.
‘I’m going back to “old fashioned” communication: putting pen to paper. The GDPR overhaul in 2018 put a massive spanner in the works and many companies have lost contacts on their database. However, you can still legally send people post. It has a novelty value, and there’s a theory that this form of marketing is set for a revival in the next couple of years.’
If you are interested in working with Steve, he is offering Guild Members the opportunity of an initial free consultation. If it suits both parties, Steve would do a Business Analysis, offer suggestions for growth and then provide ongoing monthly support.