MARKETING A SMALL BUSINESS

In this hugely competitive business environment we all work in, marketing a small business can be a real struggle, particularly in the early stages. You need to raise awareness of your business products or services on a limited budget and do you really know what marketing techniques are right to attract your target market and grow your database, increase your exposure and revenues. So much of marketing can be trial and error … plus you are running a business so when do you get time to think all this through?

Your latest marketing activities haven’t quite produced the goods, so you are considering something else to boost enquiries and footfall … but the question is what? You don’t want to waste money, so what will reach your target market?

Marketing is becoming an increasingly specialised discipline, with digital and traditional methods, and seemingly complex new tools for analysing and targeting customers, any business owner can feel overwhelmed. It’s reported that half of all businesses in the UK fail to reach their fifth birthday, so making the right marketing choices could ensure that yours does.

According to recent research by a national media group, one of the biggest issues for start-ups and small businesses is marketing. So, let’s look at what marketing is?

Eight out of ten start-ups incorrectly define it as sales or advertising, however, this is less than 15% of what proper marketing is. The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) says it is ‘the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably’. So from that you can quickly work out that probably most small business owners do not know what the true purpose of marketing is and how to do it – it is ‘to create value’ and the how is ‘segmentation, targeting and positioning supported by market research’.

I know what you’re thinking … it’s all marketing buzzwords, but marketing creates value. Often businesses are so intent on saving pennies that they are losing pounds because they do not invest strategically in marketing.

So how much should you spend on your marketing? Based on several studies, the most successful businesses invest 5% to 10% of their turnover in marketing. Without a marketing plan, business owners tend to focus on certain channels or reactive tactics, rather than having an integrated approach to their marketing with the tools to help measure an identifiable return on investment.

Don’t forget market research either … ask yourself these questions:

Why should a prospect buy a product/service from you rather than someone else?

How did your prospects hear about you?

Which prospects are most likely to buy from you?

What additional products or services can you up/cross-sell (through suppliers or third-party partnerships)?

Stay close to your customers and build a relationship with them. Remember studies show it costs five to seven times more to acquire a new customer than keep an existing one. So, think about what can you do to help ensure that your most profitable customers keep coming back?

In our next blog towards the end of July, we’ll give you some more detailed tips that we think will help you with your marketing.

APS Marketing Consulting Services are designed to be your outsourced marketing department … ‘on the shelf’ free of charge until you need us, then take us down to discuss and agree with you all your marketing activities that deliver the results your business needs to grow and prosper … all at an affordable cost to businesses of all shapes and sizes

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