Marketing is probably the most critical function of any business. Every business is a marketing business, because if sales are not being made, the business is not going to last very long.
Let’s consider the important elements of marketing in a small business.
Having a marketing plan
Your marketing plan is a core component of your overall business plan. It should include the following:
- Your target customer: Identifying your target customer allows you to focus your marketing efforts and not rely on a scattergun approach. This will be more effective and more cost effective.
- Market research. This process uncovers the information that the business needs to make good decisions. It looks at customers and their buying habits as well as your competitors in the marketplace.
- Your unique selling proposition. How will you be different to your competitors and why should potential customers choose your business over your competitors.
- Your pricing strategy. Pricing is very important and will be somewhat dependent on who you have as your target customer, their buying behaviour and your unique selling proposition.
- Your promotional strategy. Once again, this might depend on your target market and where they go to research products like you have to offer. What will be your message? What media will you choose? How will you attract potential customers to buy from your business?
- Your customer service strategy. Your strategy will depend on your type of business. It starts when people visit you. If they come into your store how do they perceive your customer service? If you have an online business, do you have a chat facility to give them great customer service while they are on your site? Good customer service is a way that small businesses can excel over large businesses.
Here is a video on creating a marketing plan.
These days just about everyone uses the internet. Even my 87-year-old mother is on Facebook all the time. The internet can be a great way to market because it is a lot more direct than other media sources. For example, with Google Adwords you only pay when someone clicks on your advertisement. This is different to advertising in a newspaper where the cost is the same whether you capture people’s attention or not. There are lots of online marketing options with social media and videos being extremely popular and useful for most businesses.
We mentioned earlier about your unique selling proposition. Your branding and positioning relate to this and form the message you are conveying to potential customers. It includes being clear on what makes you unique and having a corporate identity that reflect that. It is then important to ensure all of your marketing materials are consistent with the branding.
Many business names include the name of the owner. If you never intend to grow this might be OK. But ideally, the name of your business should help customers remember who you are. Your tag line is also important to portray your business, its unique benefits, and personality.
The truth is, marketing can be difficult. It requires a lot of work and focus. However, it is critical to your business success. So hopefully, these tips give you some ideas to get you started.