Developing Your Small Business Marketing Plan

Along with your business plan, your small business marketing plans is only of the most important long-term plans you’ll make for your small business. Some small business owners choose to ignore that advice, instead preferring to fly by the seat of their pants, so to speak, to “wing it.” While some of those small business owners are successful, they’re not nearly as successful as they could be had they laid out a well-defined small business marketing plan.

Small business marketing strategy step 1: Know your market

The first step in developing a successful small business marketing strategy is to make sure that you have a really solid handle on your target market. Ask yourself: Who are my customers? Once you’ve identified who they are, ask yourself: What are my customers’ problems? What are their dreams and aspirations? The surest way to answer those questions, of course, is to ask your customers themselves. Even if you can’t afford to hire a small business marketing firm that will conduct focus group tests for you, you can do your own simple survey by hitting the streets and talking to those people you plan to sell to (and make contacts at the same time!). You’d be surprised how powerful that simple task is yet how few businesses do it.

Small business marketing strategy step 2: Know yourself

The second step in developing your small business marketing strategy is to get to know yourself (your business), once you’ve gotten to know your customers. Ask yourself: What does my business do? How is my business different than my competitors’? How does my business help solve my customers’ problems or help them achieve their dreams? Answering these questions will help you to define your unique selling proposition – those aspects that set you apart from your competitors.

That unique selling proposition should become your brand – your business’s identity. Your brand is what will pervade all of your marketing materials and what your customers will use to identify you. The importance of diligently developing your brand as part of a successful small business marketing strategy can’t be overstated.

Small business marketing strategy step 3: Analyze your competitors’ small business marketing strategies

Once you’ve developed your brand – that unique identity that tells your customers who you are and how you’re different – you can begin thinking about how you’re going to actually market your business. First, look at your competitors’ small business marketing strategies. Are there obvious gaps that you could fill (and thereby stand out among the competition)? For example, if you see that none of your competitors have websites, you could stand out with a small business marketing strategy online.

Wherever you market your business, it must be where your customers are. For example, small business marketing online will be a waste if none of your potential customers use the Internet. Likewise, you may think that writing a monthly column in your local newspaper would be a great way to advertise your services and establish yourself as an expert; but if none of your potential customers read that paper, that small business marketing strategy will fail.

At this point, your small business marketing strategy will not only be defined by where your customers are and what your competitors are doing, but it will also depend on your small business marketing budget. A full-page spread in a national magazine may be the best way to reach your target audience, but if you can’t afford to shell out tens of thousands of dollars, it’s not the small business marketing strategy for you.

Wherever your small business marketing plan takes you, the careful development of your small business marketing strategy – by knowing your market, knowing your business, and analyzing your competitors’ strategies – will be a critical determinant of your long-term business success.

The 3 Pieces Of Small Business Marketing Advice You Should Never Follow

If you own and operate some kind of small business, then surely you’d like a steady stream of new customers walking into your store each and every day, right? Of course you would. Who wouldn’t?

And a good new customer goal would be around 10 new faces a day. This depends on the size of your business., and what you sell. But for the sake of this article, let’s stick with a goal of 10.

Alright, now what I’m going to show you is some bad advice (I recently read) about marketing a small business. And then I’m going to show you what you should do in place of this advice. Are you ready?

Bad Small Business Marketing Tip #1:

You should look for the least costly ways to advertise. This is a very bad piece of advice. And let me explain why:

You should not look for low cost marketing. What you want is effective marketing. Marketing that at least breaks even, and at best puts money into your business right away.

Just like a pair of blue jeans. Do you want the cheapest pair of blue jeans? Or do you want jeans that do what you need them to do?

In fact, the only measure of a good small business marketing promotion is whether it puts enough new customers into your business to pay for itself. Sometimes, a great piece will make money on the first go. But remember, the money in a new customer is their value over a period of time.

Bad Small Business Marketing Tip #2:

You should be concerned about your image.

I understand why many small business owners may agree with this. After all, you invested a lot of money to open your business. Plus all the time it took you to get “good” at whatever it is you do. So it only seems right that your marketing image should be foremost in your mind.

Right? No way, Jose.

And here’s why:

In no way am I saying your marketing should be offensive. But it should be outrageous. It should be fun. It should grab attention, and set you apart from your competition who launch boring (me too) campaigns.

First and foremost you should care about the results your marketing sends you. So relax and focus on the results your marketing delivers, and not get so caught up with your image.

Bad Small Business Marketing Tip #3:

You should get your name “out there”. Whatever that means? No, in fact this is a bad piece of advice that will cost you a ton of money.

Never forget, the only goal of your marketing is to deliver more sales. Period. And a good direct response marketing piece does this on the first go round. It doesn’t need to sit out there for months before it works.

The important takeaway here is to test and track your small business marketing.

Free Small Business Marketing Tips – 3 Ideas for Fast Results

In this article, I have 3 free small business marketing tips for you, because marketing shouldn’t have to set you back a bundle. And any one of them may make you a serious sum of money when you put them to work for you.

That’s a considerable promise, I know, but it’s one I stand behind and mean to keep.

But there is one warning: simply skimming through this article and “learning about” these tips won’t do a thing for you. You actually have to roll your sleeves up and put them to work for you.

Free Small Marketing Tips No 1: Bump up your fees

There are probably three people in the whole world who commonly buy on price only (and you really don’t want them as clients anyway). The rest of us have better things to bother with, like suitability, trustworthiness, delivery time, excellence, service, back up and all the rest. In one analysis only 14% of participants said price was the most important factor for them; that means 86% of them had different, more weighty concerns.

If you tack on 10% to your prices from this moment on, I would be shocked if you experienced any decrease in sales at all. What you WILL see, though, is a significant increase in your profits (because that 10 % boost is all profit). Yeah, it’s conceivable the odd client or two will moan and put on the weeps about it and perhaps even go somewhere else… but if that happens, then they’ve done you a kindness. Price buyers are sheer murder to deal with and will in the end drive you to an early grave.

Free Small Marketing Tips No. 2: Become the media darling

Read the newspapers, both national and local, switch on the Television or tune in to the radio stations and you’ll see ‘expert’ after ‘expert’ wheeled on to give his or her thoughts on everything from daycare and chilblains, to party ideas and pork pies. But what gives these folks this ‘ace’ status and why are they in the news? Well, their authority status comes from the fact they’re simply in the news. That’s it. That’s the only difference between them and you.

Precisely how do they get there? Exactly how does this come about? By their contacting the local media and saying, essentially, “I’m an expert on thingamajigs, and I’ve got strategies and information on whatchamacallits your audience would definitely like and benefit from”.

This is all a hell of a lot easier than it seems and a lot less scary, too. Some years ago I had a regular monthly piece in the local monthly rag. It added up to possibly 30 minutes’ work a month to create, and yielded thousands of Euro in business.

Free Small Marketing Tips No. 3: Ask for referrals

Referred business is the most profitable business to get, and the easiest to close the sale on — because all the hard work of nurturing trust has been done for you by whomever referred the business to you. In my own business, I don’t take on private clients from anything BUT referrals, because the business is such top quality.

Alas, while we all love ’em… we don’t tend to do much to ensure we get lots of them.

Although we can change all this simply by asking our present customers and clients this simple question: “whom else do you know whom I may be able to help in the same way I’ve helped you?”. You could send that email or letter now and be getting more business within minutes.

You can also take this one step further and set the scene for recommendations at the beginning of your relationship with a new customer: “I grow my business with referrals. So if I do a great job for you I hope and expect you will recommend at least 3 people to me whom I may be able to help”. The majority of business owners are too intimidated to make this a stipulation of doing business with clients… although that’s their affair.

See? Three free small business marketing tips that could be making you money by the end of today.

But the onus is on YOU to pull your finger out and make them work for you — they won’t do it by themselves.