Small businesses can have great products and services but struggle to get sufficient customers to allow them to expand.
Often this is because the owners of the business are too busy dealing with day to day activities to have time to plan or initiate the marketing activity. Yet it need not be an overly arduous task and can fit the finance and resources available.
- Firstly you need to establish some basics. You may think it’s obvious but just stop and jot these down on paper. Moving the information out of only being in your head on to paper (or to a PC), makes you have to think it through.
- Who are your customers? Describe them; gender, age, interests, were do they live, what do they read, what qualities are they looking for in a product / service.
Are some types of customers more profitable, or even more enjoyable to work with than others?
- Write down who the competition is and what makes them good or bad.
- What is it about your offering that will excite your target customers and beat the competitors?
I’ve already written on how to market smarter by using market segmentation. By understanding the above you’ll now be ready to do so.
- Look at your current branding, if any, and make sure it fits your identified customer. This is letterheads, logos, tag-lines (what you do in a nutshell) and the messages you want to convey.
- Now get those messages to the right customers. Marketing is a creative process and by doing some brainstorming with colleagues or even friends you may be able to think of many ways of doing so, here are some:
- Team up with other businesses / organisations by offering their customers special deals.
- Have you got a good web site? Do you sell on-line? Even if yours is not a product that can be sold on-line, ensure your web site shows you at your best, is found for your important keywords and has good marketing messages plus contact details.
- Write a blog, put helpful videos on YouTube, become known as an expert, speak at suitable events, all the time getting your brand out there.
- Engage your current customers. Seek, reward and use feedback. Start a loyalty club. Ask to be recommended. Get existing customers to return.
- Use advertising wisely. This is where knowing your customer pays off. Only advertise where your target customers are looking. The more niche you are the easier it is to be precise, but even if you have a broad offering, think about the market segmentation mentioned earlier.
It is important finally to put together a plan to do the marketing, with dates against actions. If you don’t then the pressures of running the business will always make it something to do tomorrow.