Marketing is, foremost, the art and strategy of informing your target audience about your offering and promoting it so that people feel inclined to pay you for it. But it also involves creating an overall positive image for your company, sharing your values and principles, and building awareness and recognition of your brand.
Achieving all of these goals for your small business can be difficult, but a well-thought-out marketing strategy will put you on the right path. Here are four tips to get you started.
1. Plan and budget – realistically
Any successful strategy must be planned carefully and thoroughly. Before you begin coming up with exciting campaign ideas, you must first define your target market (who your product is aimed at and ideally suited to), your unique selling point (what makes your offering special and different) and your marketing goals (the specific targets or outcomes you want to achieve). Then set a budget for your marketing efforts.
2. Start small
Small businesses tend to operate in niche fields or locales, so their marketing should reflect this. Focus your efforts on a limited area or specific industry at first, so that you can quickly learn which tactics are effective and which just waste time and money. Once you have a working strategy, you can slowly expand it to cover new territories or topics.
3. Offer smart promotions
A good way to get people interested in your product or service is to offer a special, discount or promotion. People enjoy feeling that they are getting a good deal and may be tempted to take a chance if the price is reduced, or if some other benefit can be gained. When you plan a promotion, consider your audience carefully and come up with something that speaks to them. For example, a person shopping for a luxury car will probably not be tempted by a 10% off special, but may be intrigued by an offer of one year’s free membership to an automobile society. On the other hand, a student buying a small town car will definitely be interested in getting that 10% discount. The better you know your market, the more effective your deals will be.
4. Embrace the web
There is no more powerful weapon in a small business’ artillery than online marketing. The internet has made it possible for a single person to reach millions of others at virtually no cost. Precise targeting, personalised messages, community building and flexibility contribute to making web marketing even more powerful, especially for a small business that cannot afford large advertising campaigns and considerable overheads. As always, research the websites, social networks and online communities that your target market makes use of, and focus your efforts there.
The part-time University of Cape Town (Law@Work) Start and Manage a Small Business short course is presented online throughout South Africa. Contact Amy-Jane on 021 447 7565 or visit www.getsmarter.co.za for more information about the course.