Elements of a Good Small Business Marketing Strategy

Effective marketing is an essential part of your overall business strategy. After all, there’s not much point in having a great product or service if no one is aware of it!

Here are a few points to start you off in developing your own small business marketing strategy:

  • A sound strategy starts from having clearly defined missions and goals. This means that you know what it is you want to achieve in your business.
  • You know your products and services well enough to be able to define them in easy-to-understand terms, and to demonstrate the ways in which they are unique.
  • You understand where your products and services ‘fit’ in the market at any point in time.
  • You have determined who your target market is, and done your research regarding what it is they really want and need. This is a vital element as you need to have your market narrowed down to those who are more likely to be interested in buying your product. Researching your target market or potential client base can be done through online research, focus groups and surveys.
  • You know the competition! It’s important to research your competitors, their products and services, pricing, and markets. By doing this, you can determine the areas where you can develop a distinct advantage.
  • You have decided which marketing communication and promotional tactics to utilise.
  • Your strategy can be tested, by measuring the results of campaigns.
  • The strategy should be flexible enough to be adjusted, depending on the results of activities, and on changes in the wider marketplace.

Timing and activities

Your short and long-term goals will also make a difference to your marketing strategy. For instance, your goal for next six months might be to reach out to a new demographic, or to advertise a new product, and this will determine the timing and type of activities you use.

Promotional tactics and activities might include advertising in the paper, in magazines, on websites and through social media, and on the radio, and with media releases, sales promotions involving short-term discounts, or direct marketing through email campaigns, brochures or telemarketing.

Remember, a good small business marketing strategy will aim to get the attention of your target market, and to keep drawing that attention over time.

This means keeping a keen eye on what is going on out there in the marketplace, and on what people are interested in.

8 Key Steps to Successful Marketing – Part 1

Benefits

It is hard to believe that we are already in the second month of 2013. How many of you have thought about your marketing this year but haven’t yet had the chance to sit down and start the process? The good news is it’s not too late to get started.

Marketing isn’t rocket science but at times it can feel that way. Remember, the success of your marketing is based on planning, executing, tracking and measuring and repeating this process again and again in order to refine your strategy so you see results and a return on your investment.

In follow up to my blog prior to Christmas, I have detailed the first 4 of my 8 step process to guide you in the right direction to successfully marketing your business. Block some time out in your diary this month and commit yourself to starting this process. If you don’t have the time or inclination to drive or manage your own marketing, then I encourage you to seek external assistance from experts like i.interact.

 

1. Define your PRODUCT/SERVICE
This is a really important step that some business owners neglect, thinking that this is a given but I can assure you it is not! Take some time to sit down and really think about the product/services that you provide and how you are communicating this to your customers and leads. What you are communicating may not be getting through or hitting the right buttons.

Remember to talk about your product or service in simple and easy to understand terms. Stay away from any industry jargon! This could take the form of a written version of your “elevator pitch” that clearly describes your mission, points of difference and the fundamental benefit or value you provide.

A great exercise for this is to list the features of your product/service and next to each feature, list the benefits or solution they provide. Once you have these written down next to one another, create a third column of people or situations where your product/service meets this benefit/solution and now you have your key target markets defined.

2. Determine your TARGET MARKET/S

With the current state of the economy, having a well-defined target market is more important than ever. No business can afford to target everyone, yet this is a common mistake made by many businesses.

Targeting a specific niche market does not mean that you have to exclude people that do not fit your criteria from buying from you. Rather, target marketing allows you to focus your marketing budget on a specific niche that is more likely to buy from you. This is a much more affordable, efficient and effective way to reach potential customers and generate new business. With a clearly defined target market, it is much easier to determine where and how to market your business.

3. Establish your COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE
Research and understand your competitive landscape, it is a powerful tool that will enable you to better position your business and take advantage of any weaknesses or opportunities in the market.

Online research is free, easy to access and is something you can do yourself in your own time. Who are your competitors targeting? Who are their current customers? Don’t go after the same market. You want to find a niche market that they may have overlooked.

The second part of this process includes defining your own competitive advantage or USP (unique selling proposition). What product/service/value/benefit do you offer that your competition does not? What’s unique about your business? It’s so important to clearly communicate this across all of your marketing communications. Make your business memorable and known for something unique.

4. Define your GOALS & OBJECTIVES
This is such a crucial step in the planning process as without this you don’t have a clear path to follow to reach or exceed your goals. It’s important to document both short term and long term objectives for your business. Make your goals meaningful, specific, and measurable. Tangible goals such as profit and new customers will help you keep an eye on the ball at all times.

I use the SMART principal when talking with clients about their goals and objectives.
Specific – What is the precise outcome? Who is responsible?
Measurable – How will progress be measured?
Attainable – Can the objective be achieved with a reasonable amount of effort?
Realistic – Do the responsible parties have the ability and resources to get the job done?
Time dependent – What is the start or finish date?

These first 4 steps should give you plenty to think about and assist you in starting the marketing process for your business. Make sure you keep an eye out for our blog next month to discover the remaining 4 steps in the process. In the meantime, should you have any queries relating to your marketing planning, please get in touch via our contact form.

Marketing Planning Tips for 2013

MarketingThe silly season is well and truly upon us and the New Year is just around the corner. Therefore, now is a great time to think ahead and plan out your marketing ready for 2013. The end of the year is a perfect time to reflect on your business achievements and what you would like to improve on next year. Giving thought to your business goals for 2013 will provide the perfect platform for you to nut out a Marketing Action Plan. So, where should you start?

There is a saying, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Developing a marketing plan is not as complicated as it sounds. It is nothing more than setting goals and making a to-do list of actions that will help you achieve those goals.

Your Marketing Action Plan will be key to your success. It will allow you to execute, track and measure your marketing activities to help you reach your goals whether they relate to boosting your brand awareness, increasing your customer base or positioning your business or brand as a leader in your industry. It should detail what strategies you will use, when you will implement them and who is responsible for each part. Being clear on your goals and outcomes including working to a timeframe is also crucial. Be realistic so that you do not set unreasonable expectations for yourself. At the same time, be careful not to set goals so far out in the future that there is no sense of urgency for you to take action.

What does a Marketing Action Plan look like? Well, it can take many forms but at the end of the day it should be an easy to reference document that relates to the person managing it. A one page action plan, similar to a mind map suits some people, whereas others may need more detail like a month to a page. Remember that the person responsible for managing your Marketing Action Plan should have it in full view of their desk at all times, somewhere they won’t miss it as a regular reminder.

For those of you who manage your own marketing internally, I always recommend that you also plug all of your marketing deadlines and reminders into your Outlook calendar. Use this or something similar as your time management tool. It will keep you accountable and on task if you choose to manage your marketing internally.

I also highly recommend that you review your Marketing Action Plan on a quarterly basis as circumstances can change. The original plan you write now will likely need to be updated throughout the year to account for changes in your industry, customer base and your budget. Quarterly marketing reviews also allow you to see what is working and what isn’t so you don’t waste valuable money on marketing activities that are not providing a return on investment.

All the best with your planning for 2013 and remember “”If you keep on doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep on getting what you’ve always got.” If you want different results in 2013, try something new in your marketing approach, attempt to write a Marketing Action Plan or seek assistance from an experienced marketing professional.