Small businesses constantly face adversity. The owners strive to succeed and sometimes they don’t have the tools to do so. One of the most commonly overlooked items for a small business is actually one of the most important aspects of it – Marketing. Without an effective marketing plan your business will be doomed from the beginning. I am going to walk through a couple of avenues your small business can take and also offer up some tips and suggestions based on personal experience.
If You Don’t Effectively Market Your Business; You WILL Fail!
First things first, remember this- YOU HAVE TO MARKET YOUR BUSINESS.
There is no short cut around this, you must market your business effectively in order to be successful. No one will find your great product or services if you are buried away in an executive suite with no windows :-) So, how do you get found? How do you reach the audience that you want to reach? And finally, how do you sell them once you reach them? These are very common questions and deserve complete answers. So without further ado, let’s begin.
What is Marketing?
Marketing is the process by which businesses determine what products or services may be of interest to customers, and the strategy to use in sales, communications and business development. It is an integrated process through which companies create value for customers and build strong customer relationships in order to capture value from customers in return.
Marketing is used to effectively:
- Identify the customer
- Keep the customer
- Satisfy the customer
With the customer as the focus of its activities, it can be concluded that marketing management is one of the major components of business management.
Budgets are for Losers
While I am not completely blind to the fact that not every small business is “rolling in the dough,” you need to realize and realize it early, that budgets are for losers. Let me explain; If I were to tell you I had an ATM, every time you put $1 into this ATM, you got back $2. Sounds cool, right? You would probably put every single dollar you had in your wallet into my ATM. If you think of your marketing budget like that ATM, your life will be much easier. We don’t need a budget, we just need more ones!!
When you are spending money on your marketing, look at the potential Return on Investment and evaluate your spend from there. Do not set a budget for -x- marketing channel. Do some research (or spend some money) and see what works and what doesn’t for your competitors. Let them spend the money to find the best marketing channels, then focus your spend there. If you are getting a positive ROI on your channel; reinvest, refine, repeat.
Know Your Target Market
What good does it do to market your product to the wrong people? Not one iota! Companies have shifted the focus from production to the customer in order to stay profitable. I highly suggest hiring an experienced professional marketer in order to actually find your potential clientele. A couple questions to ask in order to answer this question would be things like:
- What is the age range of the average customer who wants what I have to sell?
- Do males or females purchase my product or service more often? Is it a mix?
- What kind of income range do my average customers or clients have?
- Are my clients generally educated? Does my product or service specifically tailor to a certain academic?
- Are my clients married Divorce? Do they have kids? Pets?
It may seem like some of those questions are irrelevant, but I assure you, they are not. The more you know about your customers and market the more you can reach them and keep them coming back.
The Marketing Mix
Understand and Use the Four P’s to Market Effectively
Unless all four of the P’s are working together, your marketing message will be distorted and not as effective as it could be. The four P’s of marketing are:
Price. How much will your customers pay for your product or service? You need to decide on a pricing strategy, don’t just wing it. Are you going to undercut the competition? Are you going to sell based on price? Are you going to focus on quality and charge more? You need to make a clear, concise, decision on what you will charge and why you are charging that amount. Just remember, if you compete on price then that will become a long and slippery road. For most companies, competing on price is not a sensible approach.
Product. A good product will sell itself, right? Nope! There are so many quality products and services in today’s highly competitive markets that you need to set your product apart from the pack. There are also consumer laws that you need to be familiar with. Use them to your advantage as a sales point, “not happy? Return the item for a full refund, no questions asked!” Sounds like your helping them, right? Actually, there are consumer laws that give a consumer a right to return a product they think is “bad”.
Place (Distribution). Is your product available at the right place, right time and in the right quanity? Think about the ways to deliver your product. The internet? Cell phones? Ideas like e-commerce have been revolutionary for businesses.
Promotion. How are you going to approach your target market? Are you going to educate them and inform them of all the benefits your product or service contains? Pull out the big guns and get your advertising, sales promotions, PR, call sales, etc all in order.
Below you will find a Downloadable PDF regarding the Marketing Mix.
Marketing Channels that Work Well
There are quite a few different channels you can use effectively though not all are created equal. Some techniques and strategies will work better for business a than for business b. It’s up to you to find what works. Below you will find a couple of channels that usually have a pretty nice ROI. While, some may require professional help, others you can do on your own.
- Co-op advertising networks with your vendors. This can often be done with a simple telephone call.
- Internet Marketing. Organic Search Engine Optimization and Pay Per Click advertising are two highly effective marketing channels. Online retail sales have grown tremendously in the past years.
- Guerrilla Marketing. The objective of guerrilla marketing is to create a unique, engaging and thought-provoking concept to generate buzz, and consequently turn viral. The concept is to develop an unconventional system of promotions that relies mostly on time, energy and emotion rather than large marketing spend.
- Referrals. This is one of the absolute best ways to get new clients. Referrals are great for a couple reasons but the biggest being that someone outside of your company has actively recommended your product or service to another person. You have built loyalty with one customer and in turn they have brought you another. You know what they say, a happy customer tells 2 people, a mad one tells 10. Keep your customers happy and they will bring you more business.
Conclusion and Marketing Resources
All in all, marketing is a core part of any business. In order to have success, you need to make this core part of your business one of the most active. If you don’t do it well, hire someone who can. I assure you, if your business is successful with it’s marketing, your business will be successful. Thanks for reading. Below you will find a couple resources to help you out if you decide to market on your own (or just want to read some more).