Intro to Small Business Marketing
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
There is a common misunderstanding that marketing is all about sales. While effective small business marketing will bring sales to your business, marketing is really about determining who the customers for your business are, why they want your product or service, and how you are going to reach them.
Getting started with small business marketing
The most common mistake when it comes to marketing is thinking that everyone will want your product or service.
In short, they don't.
But, there is a specific subset of people who do. Identifying who those people are and then communicating with them is the first step in small business marketing.
How do you identify your customers? If your business is new, you need to think about the characteristics that these people will have including things like: where they are, what motivates them to buy, what they read, what they watch on television, where they go on the Internet. Other factors such as their gender, income and interests may also be relevant, depending on your business.
If your business sells to another business, you need to determine what defines those businesses – the industry, the number of employees, geographic location, annual turnover, and the needs of the business. You still need to understand why this business wants or needs to buy your products or services.
If your business is already in operation, start to look at who your customers are. You may discover some things they have in common. You can also ask them why they buy from your business, what they like, and what they don’t like.
The more you know about who will buy, or who is currently buying, your products and services, the better you will be at marketing to them.
Creating a small business marketing plan
Once you know who your customer is, you can begin to create a small business marketing plan. You can find out how to do this in detail and even find templates that you can use here.
In summary, a small business marketing plan needs to cover how you will:
- attract customers to your business
- nurture them by communicating with them about their needs and how your business or products suit those needs
- convert people into paying customers
- retain customers and make sure they come back again and again
If you don’t feel qualified to create your own marketing plan, there are many marketing experts available to assist. Simply do a Google Search for 'Marketing Consultant' and a list of businesses and freelancers will be returned. Many will specialise in small business marketing as larger businesses tend to have full-time staff that manage their marketing.
Another way to find a small business marketing expert is to ask other business owners how they get assistance with their marketing. This way, you’ll get a recommendation from business people like you.
What small business marketing tactics should you use?
This will depend on your business and your products or services, but usually a mix of traditional and online marketing is needed.
Traditional - or offline - marketing includes things like brochures, posters and also things like radio or even television advertising.
That may sound like a lot of elements to consider and understand. And, in all honesty, it is. This may be where you need the help from expert marketing consultants and small business digital marketing consultants.
Another thing to consider are training events that get you, or members of your team, educated about how to create, measure and operate digital marketing. Some of them are funded by local councils or state governments are specifically designed to help small businesses. Many organisations run training programs including The Creative Collective, The Australian Business Women’s Network, ADMA and the Queensland Government.
If your business operates within the tourism industry, you may also be able to get assistance from the government tourism agencies for marketing and get detailed research to help define your target customers.
Executing and learning from your small business marketing plan
Some of the things in your plan will work, some won’t. The point is you need to try different things to see what your customers respond to.
Like running a business, the marketing plan is never complete; the work is never done. As the business owner, you need to test, learn and adapt the plan to make sure you are talking to your customers about your business in the way that makes them buy and come back to your business.