Small Business Marketing – An Essential Step In Success

Regardless of the size, a small business must focus on marketing, just like any business of a substantial size. Unlike big businesses, small businesses have a lot of factors that make marketing more difficult. Primarily, these efforts are hindered by budgets and resources.

A marketing strategy is a step-by-step process that examines a business situation or environment. The plan identifies a target client/market, key competition, challenges and opportunities in the market.

Marketing is such an important part of the business process. It’s what brings consumers and products together in a market place.

When you have a well thought out plan in place, you generate more sales because you capture the attention of the market quickly. Small business marketing often has to be especially innovative to overcome the challenges of the limited resources. Your marketing plan forms the foundation for your business decision making, and acts a reference point for making decisions about direction changes. Marketing plans allow you to work towards your predetermined goal.

Primarily, this type of marketing focuses on developing a product or brand identity. A good marketing plan begins with understanding your company’s unique selling position in the marketing place. What is it that makes your products or services unique? Your brand incorporates that unique selling position and establishes an impression of your company in the mind of the target customer.

Many small businesses choose to use some simple methods of marketing their products and brand to their clients. Some methods of marketing include development of a web site, direct mailing efforts such as postcards or brochures, or email marketing campaigns, including newsletters. These marketing efforts are very cost effective – they allow you to contact clients at very little cost and begin the steps of developing brand recognition.

One of the advantages a small business has is flexibility. Although a small company doesn’t have an unlimited amount of money to invest in marketing, they have the advantage of being able to make decisions quickly. If a marketing strategy isn’t working, these businesses can quickly change direction and respond to the needs of a changing market place. Small businesses do have some advantages over the giants – how many can change their marketing strategy within a week?

Marketing for a small business is something that has to be consistently done, almost on a daily basis. You can easily implement a number of marketing tools, such as daily emails, blogs to your website, flyers on windshields or door hangers, etc.

One option a business has is to partner with another business and stretch marketing. Look for a small business that offers a supporting product or service and try to partner with them. Working in partnership with another company gives you flexibility to share expenses, such as graphic designers, printers, web site designers, etc. By sharing resources and times, you may stretch your budget much farther.

Small business marketing is necessary for success. In many cases, your best marketing tool is word of mouth – from satisfied clients. Marketing is essential part of any small business success. Whether you focus your time on developing a marketing plan yourself, or use the advice of experienced professionals, marketing will help establish your company brand and image.

Small Business Marketing – The Power of a Market Review

Conducting a market review is one of the most important steps in the small business marketing process as it provides together with a business review the information you need to create a dynamic marketing plan. All big businesses conduct these reviews as they know it can save time and money for their business.

A market review does not have to be complicated and a lot will depend on what information you can source. The important factor regarding a market review is to understand the key elements of your market and how these elements can affect your business now and in the future.

The key elements you need to look at when conducting a market review for your small business include:

Size of Market
Your market is simply the overall industry in which you compete. For example if you sell juice then you compete in the Beverage Market. If you sell holidays as a travel agent then you compete in the Tourism Market. Analyzing the size of your market can tell you whether it is growing or declining, help you to identify growth opportunities and for a new small business can determine if the market is large enough to compete in and operate a profitable business. There are many sources you can use to gather information on the size of your market and these include trade magazines, industry associations, search engines and local government websites and resources.

Market Segment Analysis

Segmentation is a process that looks at the total market and then divides the products or services into broad groups that have similar characteristics. In the examples above, whilst the total market is beverages, the segment that is the most important to a juice manufacturer is the Juice Segment. Looking at the total beverage market today throughout the world the leading soft drink manufacturers have entered many of the market segments such as bottled water to expand their business. Market segment analysis also helps you to determine where your small business marketing efforts should be concentrated.

Distribution Channel Analysis
A distribution channel is the way in which your product or service is made available to your customers so they can purchase it. Examples are supermarkets, personal selling (face to face selling), distributors and the internet. Analyzing the sales of each distribution channel in your market enables you to identify which channels are the most important for you to compete in to grow your business.

Market Trends
A trend is any significant change to your market that your business may need to respond to. Examples of market trends include changes to the economy, changing customer demographics, social and global factors (to name a few). If you conduct business in the USA at the moment or are intending to compete in the USA then the concerns about a possible recession and how it could affect your small business needs to be identified so action plans can be put in place to minimize the impact.

Market Seasonality
If a product or service is seasonal it means that the majority of the sales occur at one or a few times a year. Tax accountants obviously have increased sales when the end of the financial year occurs and tax returns and other government reporting are required. Understanding market seasonality factors can lead to your small business maximizing sales through this period and also may highlight opportunities to spread your sales throughout the year.

Competitor Analysis
Your key competitors need to be analyzed in order for you to identify their key strengths and weaknesses and how they compare to your own small business. Reviewing this area means that you can be smarter with your marketing efforts and be proactive against their weaknesses and of course defend against their strengths. One tip that all big businesses do is to have a competitor file with examples of their marketing activities, products or services.