Sharon Williams: Marketing Strategies That Won't Break The Bank

Born in the UK, Taurus marketing owner Sharon Williams began her career with marks and spencers before working for a Kashmiran prince called Ravi Tikoo in his (very glamourous!) shipping company.  After getting married and backpacking around the world with her husband, Sharon relocated to Australia. When she became pregnant with their first child, her then-employer made it clear there was no longer a role for her in their organisation, so Taurus was born. Sharon gives spark readers some insights into the marketing strategies that can take your business to the next level.

You launched your Marketing, PR, Social Media and Creative agency, Taurus, in 1995. What do you think are some of the biggest changes in marketing in that period?
It was the rise of the internet and the move away from paper to electronic communication. The beginning of the globalisation of services enabled by the internet

What is your view on businesses ignoring social media?
Not the end of the world – just like ignoring events, direct mail, customer service – if you want to be average!
But if you want to be a leading brand you need to be engaging in all these channels and social media is cheap, easy and a low barrier to entry

What is the best way for a novice business owner to dip their toe into the Social Media marketing pool?
Start small and take lessons from people who use it frequently. Then make your own judgement like any other marketing tool on how you should be using it best. Focus on the end goal and then how you get there

What do you think the aim of running a small business should be?
It should be the right aim for you. So there isn’t one aim. I run my business so I can have fun, do excellent interesting work, employ people and grow them, feed and educate my children and fund myself and my family and Travel.  It’s different for everyone

You are now a successful public speaker on a number of topics, what do you think are the biggest marketing blunders business owners make?
Not to focus! Poor hiring decisions

In the current economic climate, what is your response to business owners who say they can’t afford marketing and are waiting until things improve before they spend money on it?
Marketing doesn’t have to be expensive – social media isn’t. Telephone calls aren’t. If they don’t need to spend money on marketing and they have enough sales then don’t. But if they could do with more sales they need to focus on marketing

You are also a mother of three. How do you manage a work/life balance?
I’m organised, I communicate to the kids, we are a team, I love my life. I am disciplined about knocking off on time to spend time with them

What advice can you give for women who are looking to start and market their own business?
Meet and talk with people who have done what you are about to do before. Surround yourself with a good advisory team

What are your top 5 tips for women to succeed in business?
  1. Focus and make a plan with milestones
  2. Test your idea with customers – and win a few fans for testimonials
  3. Get a good accountant and have your cashflow forecast, Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable and P&L and balance sheet delivered to you every couple of weeks, open a tax account for your tax
  4. Surround yourself with good advisors and hire  the people your gut says are right
  5. Get a good brand

What is the biggest mistake you have ever made in business?
Not re-working budgets in the light of the GFC

What opportunities do you see for small businesses in Australia in the next 3-5 years?
This is the dawn of the small business – with improved remote communications and the growth of freelancers etc – this is the opportunity to shine

What do you think is the secret to your business success?
Tenacity and belief I am doing the right thing

What are your goals for the 3-5 years?
Grow the business and increase my own personal brand work internationally
Stay fit!