Marketing is communication. Like all communication, its a two-way street. If your message is good, people will respond and boost sales. But implementing a bad marketing plan is far worse than someone just ignoring your message; its a costly way to be ignored. That is how important small business marketing is.
The most common mistake too many small business owners make is looking at a marketing strategy as an added cost. Sure, any marketing strategy will entail some expense. But a good small business marketing plan doesnt have to be expensive. What it does need to do is reach your target market, the people you need to convince that your business is THE business that can best provide what they need.
If you need to, review your old marketing research and see if it defines your target market clearly. Just as a refresher, the basic information you will need on your target market are: age, gender, where they live, family size, income, work, lifestyle, and how large a segment of the population are they.
When you have a fairly good idea of who your target market is, try to find out how they get their information. Do they read newspapers, watch TV, or listen to the radio? Or do they rely mainly on the Internet, email or text? Knowing this will help you define the best marketing strategy to communicate with your market since each medium needs a different approach.
Learn what low-cost promotional and advertising options are available. This may entail some costs. But this generally is more effective, both cost-wise and for reaching your target audience, than printing out flyers to hand out to everyone you meet.
Go personal. Actually talking to your customers, getting to know as many as you can, finding out their needs and what other products or services they may need, is always a good small business marketing strategy. This will give you direct feedback from your target market and will likely make them want to return again and again. They are also more likely to read and respond to letters and emails, and the ads you take out, as well as visit your website more often. If you use social networking, these customers are also more likely to sign up on to your page and could bring in friends and family, actually helping expand your market for you.
There are also ways to generate publicity, sometimes for free. You can submit press releases to local newspapers and radio stations on a new product or service. If you can, sponsor a community activity that people can identify with your business or host special events for your customers, like an appreciation day. People always like to feel appreciated. And you could also get additional exposure from media coverage
Among the many other promotional ideas for small business you could try is partnering partner with one or any number of non-competitive small businesses in your area. You could offer discounts or other incentives to each others customers. Or you could include each others leaflets or business cards in the promotional material you send out. Or you could co-sponsor seminars or conferences to increase your visibility and attract advertisers.
There are many other small business marketing strategies you can use. Many of these are available on the Internet or at the many seminars offered by business organizations, advertising agencies, or manufacturers. But whatever marketing plan you use, always remember that effective small business marketing is all about getting your message out to people.
by: Rolando Valdes
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