It's a wonderful thing to launch your own business, and to be successful you'll need to be effective with small business marketing. Lack of knowledge on marketing, a lack of experience in small business advertising or a lack of willingness to market a business, is why so many entrepreneurs fail and give up. Your customers and clients keep your business alive, and if prospective ones don't know you exist, your business won't make money. That's the importance of small business marketing, and it's not difficult to get started.
Determine Target Audience
You're not in business to serve everyone. If you are, you're in the wrong business, and you're bound to fail. You have to decide who your target market is, think about and then narrow down your best marketing ideas and then design a marketing plan to reach them. Some questions to ask yourself are:
- What are my skill sets?
- What is my work experience?
- What products or services can I offer to match my work experiences and skill sets?
- Who needs my products or services?
- What are their demographics (i.e., age, gender, income, location)?
- What websites and blogs do they visit often online?
- Where do they spend their money?
Learn as much as you can about the customers and clients you wish to serve, and determine who you cannot serve. You'll end up with a target market, and those are the people who you'll put your small business marketing money on.
Draft a Marketing Plan
This is not a dissertation, or a business plan. The best ones are as short as seven sentences, developed by the author of Guerrilla Marketing, Jay Conrad Levinson. By the time you answer seven questions, in seven sentences, you'll have a marketing plan that you can follow every day or as often as you market. You can also share it with future or current employees, independent contractors and business partners. Conrad suggests that you answer the following questions:
- What physical act do you want them to take when exposed to your marketing (for example, click on a link or call you)?
- What is your competitive advantage that would make clients take the act (for example, affordable prices)?
- Who is your target audience?
- What marketing weapon will you use (Conrad offers 100 marketing tactics that you can find in his book or at GMarketing.com)
- What is your niche?
- What is your identity ( for example, a home based business owner)?
- What percent of your gross sales will you allocate to marketing (7 to 8 percent is effective)?
Major Fortune 500 companies use Levinson's seven sentence small business marketing plan, so you're in good company.
Develop and Market a Website
Build a website using WordPress or hire a web designer, based on your marketing plan. Totally free marketing can be done by using a website like blogger, but it's better to have your own .com The website should be all about how customers and clients can benefit from your products and services. Don't make it a website full of information about how wonderful your company is. It should be all about them, and how they can save time, money or pain by hiring you or buying something from you. Include an education section of your website, and load it with articles that provide solutions to problems that relate to your business. For example, if you're starting a virtual bookkeeping service, then write or hire a freelance writer to write articles offering accounting and financial record keeping tips to small business owners and non-profit organizations. Learn about search engine optimization, which ensures that your website is found, and allocate a small portion of your small business marketing dollars toward pay-per-click advertising.
Small business marketing takes time, and you should schedule it. When you first get started, you should allocated 95 percent of your time to doing it.