Types of Marketing Services for Small to Medium Businesses

Business owners are often experts in their own field, but they are not very experienced at marketing or know how to approach attracting clients. Or it might be that they just don’t have the time to spend developing marketing plans and strategies to promote their products and services.

Engaging the services of a marketing professional can often save business owners time and money by taking the guess work out of the equation. Following are just some of the different marketing services that are available:

Marketing Strategy and Planning – the development of a sound marketing plan that is in line with your business goals can be very time-consuming. A marketing plan involves market research including developing a range of activities and strategies for the promotion of your product/services. Utilising professional marketing services for these high level tasks may involve using a consultant on a permanent or project basis.

Branding and Graphic Design – business owners need to develop a brand that will help them to attract and retain clients. However, this can be a daunting task for someone who does not have the expertise in this area. Marketing services experts can help business owners to develop their brand, and provide graphic design services for their logo, stationery, and advertising materials.

Public Relations (PR) – this aspect of marketing enables business owners to generate more leads and increase awareness of their unique brand. However, even the business owner with the most brilliant product or service might not have the communication skills necessary for promoting it, and some PR expertise might be required. A PR campaign might involve press releases, email campaigns, events and various other activities.

A small to medium-sized business might not have the means to employ a marketing person on a full-time basis, and marketing agencies can be very costly. Using a boutique consultancy, such as i.interact, allows a business owner to access the expertise of a marketing professional in an affordable way. It also means they can obtain the types of marketing services they require only when they require them. Meaning they can get on with what it is they do best – running their business!

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.

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.