When it comes to marketing, small and medium-sized companies tend to obsess over their customers but ignore their stakeholders. This is a mistake because the business does not only depend on the next sale but also the network it operates in.
When we develop a strategic marketing plan for a business we make an effort to understand not only who the target customers are, but also everyone else that have an impact on the success of the business, including investors, employees, potential employees and strategic partners. A solid communications plan should ultimately address all of these important groupings and not only prospective customers.
Who are your stakeholders?
Your stakeholders are all the important groups and organisations that have an impact on your business. This could include government, the community around your building, investors, employees, business partners, suppliers and finally, most obviously, your customers. Everyone that is tied to your business. Ultimately your business, through its branding and marketing, should communicate with all the stakeholders, not just your customers.
Many small business owners make the mistake of leaving someone out, and often, that someone is the customer.
Research by Irene Inskip from Oxford University found that SMEs often fail to acknowledge the role of customers as key stakeholders:
Most small businesses have a rather limited view of important stakeholders as only the top management team and employees with only a distant recognition of customers
How to treat your stakeholders
You need to proactively engage with them not just about the things that are important to them, but also what’s important to you. There are two key things to highlight here:
- Proactive – which means you need to initiate the contact. Quite literally – out of the blue – they need to hear from you!
- You can’t just always talk about what THEY want – more money, a lower price increase, better quality. You need to also talk about what’s important to you – what YOU want.
Small businesses can be too reactive in how they communicate. They only talk to employees when there are issues. They only talk to the customer when the next order is placed or when issues creep up.
It is time for your employees and your customers to take your call.
How to communicate to your stakeholders?
So what are some basic tips for doing this? Here’s a few:
- A bi-monthly newsletter to staff in which you highlight areas of excellence and improvement.An end of year letter to customers in which you take your relationship in review.
- Highlight areas of mutual success, acknowledge frustrations and take a fresh look at the upcoming year ahead.
Stakeholder management is about recognizing who all the people are that have a material impact on your business and making sure you talk to them about what is important to the success and growth of your business.
Thinking about it, all small businesses must be able to answer the question: Who are my stakeholders, and what am I telling them?
Need a strategic marketing plan?
At Firejuice we help small, medium and mid-sized companies take a professional, structured approach to marketing. We start the process by drafting a strategic marketing plan with you that guides your marketing investment and ensures results.
To learn more about how we can help you take a professional approach to marketing, contact us.