The ABC’s of Marketing for Small Businesses

Marketing?!? That’s for big Fortune 500 companies with CEO’s, thousands of employees and huge budgets. Not for me. I’m a small business owner… I don’t have the time or resources for that.Perhaps you’ve said that to yourself. I know I thought that same thing in the past when running and operating my own small business… and boy was I wrong! Through trial and error, I found out the hard way that EVERY business needs a great marketing plan. And of course every business needs a great marketing plan that’s tailored specifically to their business – the marketing plan of an electrician’s company would be very different from that of a retail clothing store.To market your business properly, you only need to understand the basics of marketing… and it’s not advertising! Advertising is a tool in your business marketing tool kit – it’s the way to get the word out about your business, but it is not marketing. The basics of marketing are covered by a principle called the “4 P’s”, which are “product, price, placement and promotion”. Although, I think they missed out one very important “P” – PLAN.So from here on, we’ll discuss the “5 P’s” of marketing for your small business:1. PRODUCT – This is ideally a product or service that people want or need, or that they believe they want or need in your target market. As a general rule of thumb for small businesses, the marketing of a “wanted” product or service should be a bit more aggressive than the marketing of a “needed” product or service.2. PRICE – Your product or service must be sold at a price that your target customer will believe is of good value.3. PLAN – Marketing for any business needs to have a solid and well thought out written plan, and as a minimum it should include:· sales goalso dollar amounts, # of products sold, etc.· a profile of ideal customerso where do they live? age? Gender? Income?· your “Unique Selling Proposition”o what makes your business/product/service unique? Why should someone buy your product/use your service instead of others? This is a very important part of your plan that you can use to create your “Brand”, which is how you influence how the public will perceive your business or product.· your competitiono Where are they located? Do they have more or less services than you? Is their price higher or lower than yours? Do they have a competitive advantage over you?· a budgeto for traditional advertising (web, radio, print, television), and also for other non-traditional marketing such as hosting events, sponsoring local sports teams, etc.· competitive strategieso what will you do if your competitor beats your price? Or four more competitors open within the next year?4. PLACEMENT – Where will your products or services be available? Is it at a brick and mortar store? Is your product available on-line? Is your product being distributed to stores? How can you make sure your product or service is readily available to your target market?5. PROMOTION – This is the creation of appropriate and consistent consumer perception of your product or services using a variety of methods including social media, websites, radio, print and television. Use your “Unique Selling Proposition” that you came up with in your marketing plan and ensure it is used consistently across all your promotional products. For instance – your business card, website, web advertisements, brochures or flyers should all carry the same professional looking logo and/or slogan. Radio, television or printed ads should focus on your “Unique Selling Proposition”, even when you’re advertising some sort of sale. In summary, keep all your promotional materials consistent and professional, and you will be well on your way to keeping your business well branded in your customer’s mind.A really great example of a well branded product is Nyquil:Product – Definitely feels like a necessity when you have a cold or flu, but in reality, it’s a wantUnique Selling Proposition/Brand – “The nighttime, coughing, achy, sniffing, stuffy head, fever so you can rest medicine”™Price – Priced well in comparison with competing productsPlacement – Available at almost every grocery and drug store in North AmericaPromotion – Promoted similarly across all promotional platforms, using their “Unique Selling Proposition” (slogan) as the anchor for the brandIn summary, a solid marketing plan is not just for the big Fortune 500 companies with huge budgets, it’s a sound basic business principle that even the smallest of businesses can take advantage of. So, build your marketing plan, brand your business and you’ll be well on the way to putting the RIGHT product or service in front of the RIGHT customer at the RIGHT time!