As a small business owner or entrepreneur you are often limited as to the resources- both financial and physical – that you have access to for Marketing. This lack of resources should not detract you from your objective of creating a powerful marketing strategy. Small businesses can compete with larger, more powerful market players but you need to focus on winning small battles in niche markets rather than the war in a larger market. It’s all about leveraging your key strengths as a small business owner and using them to your advantage.
Many companies pour large amounts of money into advertising campaigns without any reference to an agreed and established marketing plan –Big mistake!
There are many ways to prepare a marketing strategy but the key to success is focusing on one thing – Your customer. “That’s Obvious”, I hear you say- perhaps, but you’d be amazed at the number of companies – even the big guys- who forget this, electing instead to focus on profit, turnover, efficiency, etc.
Your close relationship with your customers is one of your most powerful weapons as a small business owner and a great tool for detecting opportunities. Use this relationship to ask your customers what they think about your product, the price, your service and what improvements or additions they would like to see. This information is priceless and will help you prepare a more targeted marketing strategy.
Knowing who buys your products or services is not enough. It is important that you identify the following.
· Why they buy?
· With what frequency?
· Are they satisfied?
· Are they loyal to your products or a they prepared to switch to the competition if the price is lower?
This information will allow you to identify what motivates your customers to buy and therefore design the appropriate strategies to increase their loyalty.
Always keep an eye on what your competition is doing as this is vital for creating a short and long term marketing strategy. Visit their businesses, subscribe to their newsletter or mailing list, order their catalogue, buy their products to see how they treat you as a customer…..you must obtain all possible information relating to your competitors.
Having compiled all the information relating to your customers and your competition, you are now in a position to prepare a SWOT analysis. This is the final step in order to design the most effective Marketing Strategy.
“What on earth is a SWOT analysis?” I am not going to go into a detailed explanation here – we’ll leave that for another article – however a simple answer is the following:
SWOT is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.
It is relatively easy to prepare, you just need to put on your thinking cap and be prepared to do a little brainstorming. The purpose of the exercise is to identify the Strengths and Weaknesses of your company (these are usually internal characteristics) and with that information look at the possible Opportunities which you can take advantage of and Threats to be on the look out for (External circumstances).
Armed with the above knowledge, you will be in a much better position to set out the specifics of your marketing strategy using the “Marketing Mix” or “4 P’s” as it is often referred to.
These 4 P’s (Product, Price, Place and Promotion) are the cornerstone of your strategy and the success of your marketing will depend on your correct use of these four different elements. I will explain these in an upcoming article as the subject cannot be explained in a few lines.
There are tons of articles and information online relating to Marketing, however, this information is often incomplete or confusing. The following link takes you to a resource which I am sure you will find interesting. It is the definitive “Bible” on Small Business Marketing and contains specific techniques to help you grow your business and increase your income. Click here to take a look.