As an owner of a small business, effectively marketing your business is one of the top challenges you will face. And, a good marketing strategy is a very valuable tool for any business.
In order for your business to be successful, it is essential for people – your future customers – to know about your brand as well as the products and services you offer. Attracting and then retaining customers is the underlying premise of successfully building your business. When executed properly, marketing highlights the customer’s value to the business and, in turn, creates a customer’s loyalty to your business or brand.
Marketing methods can widely vary and are aimed at convincing people to sample or become regular users of particular products or services. Business owners should carefully plan their marketing strategies and performance to keep their market presence strong.
Identifying the right approach for your business can be difficult. So, how do you get started?
The nature of your business service or product is an important consideration for determining your marketing approach. The following steps as outlined by the Small Business Administration (SBA) combine to provide a holistic marketing program:
1) Market Research
Successful marketing requires timely and relevant market information. An inexpensive research program, based on questionnaires given to current or prospective customers, can often uncover dissatisfaction or possible new products or services.
Market research will also identify trends that affect sales and profitability. Population shifts, legal developments, and the local economic situation should be monitored to quickly identify problems and opportunities. It is also important to keep up with competitors’ market strategies.
2) Creating a Marketing Strategy
A marketing strategy identifies customer groups which a particular business can serve better than its target competitors, and tailors product offerings, prices, distribution, promotional efforts and services toward those segments. Ideally, the strategy should address unmet customer needs that offer adequate potential profitability. A good strategy helps a business focus on the target markets it can serve best.
3) Target Marketing
Most small businesses don’t have unlimited resources to devote to marketing; however, you can still see excellent returns while sticking to your budget if you focus on target marketing. By concentrating your efforts on one or a few key market segments, you’ll gain the most from small investments. There are two methods used to segment a market:
- Geographical segmentation: Specializing in serving the needs of customers in a particular geographical area.
- Customer segmentation: Identifying those people most likely to buy the product or service and targeting those groups.
4) Managing the Market Mix
Every marketing program contains four key components:
- Products and Services: Product strategies include concentrating on a narrow product line, developing a highly specialized product or service or providing a product-service package containing unusually high-quality service.
- Promotion: Promotion strategies focus on advertising and direct customer interaction. Good salesmanship is essential for small businesses because of their limited advertising budgets. Online marketing is a cheap, quick, and easy way to ensure that your business and product receive high visibility.
- Price: When it comes to maximizing total revenue, the right price is crucial. Generally, higher prices mean lower volume and vice-versa; however, small businesses can often command higher prices because of their personalized service.
- Placement/Distribution: The manufacturer and wholesaler must decide how to distribute their products. Working through established distributors or manufacturers’ agents is generally easiest for small manufacturers. Small retailers should consider cost and traffic flow in site selection, especially since advertising and rent can be reciprocal: a low-cost, low-traffic location means spending more on advertising to build traffic.