Unlike Huge Corporations, Small Businesses Do Not Have Unlimited Budgets
Small business marketing typically has to cope with tight budgets, and have to depend on precise marketing campaigns for great results. This means that these businesses must be aware of different marketing strategies and tactics and where each is appropriate.
We start with a look at marketing essentials and then go on to see how a small business can achieve great results with minimal costs. When you are aware of the core activities and the different practices, it becomes easier to formulate a strategy that will work best for you.
The basic objectives of marketing activities are:
- Creating Awareness: Making people aware of your business. Precise marketing would identify the particular group of potential customers and make them aware of your offers.
- Inducing Potential Customers to Contact You: Effective marketing will be able to generate a sense of urgency in the minds of your potential customers to contact you.
- Persuading Them to Buy: Finally, the marketing exercise should convert your potential customers into actual customers who buy from you.
Marketing Starts with Market Research
The time and money spent on market research can save you much more time and money on your subsequent marketing efforts. Any market research worth its name would:
- Identify Your Customer: Who would be interested in your product or service? Young persons, above 30’s or retirees? High income group, middle income group or those with tight budgets? The jet set, home makers, DIYers, the hip group, or some other clearly defined group? Knowing these things can help you tailor your offer precisely.
- What is the Competition: Who are your real competitors? What do they offer? How do they promote it? What do customers feel about the offers? Finding out such information can help you develop more attractive offers.
- Industry Trends: Will you be entering a field which is getting obsolete? Or one with high growth potential? Where will the growth occur? Are better technologies emerging? With this kind of information, you can avoid the danger of setting up a business in a declining industry.
You can do “primary” market research by going into the field and interacting with the players such as existing suppliers, prospective customers and industry associations. You can supplement it with “secondary” research by studying published information gathered by others. Whichever approach you take, you should get the kind of information mentioned above.
Corporates with a plentiful supply of funds can afford publicity through all kinds of media, such as press, radio, TV, billboards, sports stadiums and other expensive (and often wasteful) avenues. Small businesses with tight budgets have to be more selective. They have to identify the particular media that will provide the most “bang for their buck”.
For local businesses, this might consist of publicity through town newspapers, door-to-door flyer distribution and participation in local events. Both local businesses and larger small businesses can tap the potential of the emerging trend of web marketing. Web marketing is comparatively inexpensive, and highly effective if done right.
The aim of small business marketing should be to look for low cost media to reach their prospects and convey their messages. Using creative and innovative ways, they can even compete with larger businesses. Look around to observe how your competitors and even non-competitors do their marketing. You might begin to get some ideas.
While the discussion so far has assumed that you will be attending to your small business marketing efforts directly, this is not the only option. You can negotiate with distributors and wholesalers to take upon your marketing efforts, while you focus on production and administration. You can also explore avenues such as getting numerous small affiliates to market your products.
Alternatively, you can set up your own marketing force and a separate marketing department to attend to all the tasks involved. Staffed with specialist marketers, the department can then help you develop the best ways for creating awareness about your offers and getting customers to buy from you.
You should develop a complete marketing plan to translate your marketing strategy into a concrete action program. This plan would include a realistic marketing budget, showing how much funds you will be spending on each of the marketing activities. This budget would indicate whether your financial resources are enough to implement the strategy you have developed.
Review and Adapt
Your marketing plan is only a benchmark for initiating actions and estimating costs. In actual practice, you might find that certain actions are not producing intended results. It then becomes necessary to review the situation and develop alternative approaches and programs. Small business marketing becomes really effective with such a flexible approach.
Business promotion covers a range of activities that seek to make customers aware of your business and induce them to buy from you.