Marketing top tips for small business

Marketing is essential, if you want to get your business noticed by potential customers. These top tips will help give you some valuable ideas.

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26th April 2012 at 7:28 am

If you’re just starting your own business, you will hopefully have a marketing plan. If not, then you need to get busy – here are some helpful tips to get you started.

Business plan + marketing plan

Even the most simple of enterprises needs a business plan, setting out how your business will operate and grow, importantly defining what you are selling, who to and why. This may all seem startlingly obvious but it is surprising how many seemingly good ideas fall down because of lack of demand or customer engagement. Whatever the business proposition it must be unique or special enough to create customer demand. The basis of any good marketing plan is defining the ‘customer need’ you are targeting with your product or service (and of course the competitive landscape). Do your research, define your target audience, then think about your marketing plan.

So what’s in it for your customer?

Make sure you communicate a clear proposition to the customer and keep their needs in mind. Where’s the benefit? What value will this deliver to them? Who else is selling to them and why are we different? Keep content and marketing messages clear and to the point and answer those needs.

Targeting

Set down key characteristics of your target audience, demographics are key and will help you determine how best to communicate with them. Gender, age, profession, location, lifestyle are just some of the important factors you need to consider when positioning your product or service. Twitter can be a hugely successful profile raising tool, but only if your target audience are using it.

Getting started does not necessarily mean big budgets and big websites.

So many people invest heavily in developing expensive websites or big products before they have started engaging with potential customers. Of course, sometimes this is core to your business, if it is a web based company, for example. But as a general rule, start talking to customers as soon as possible. Always manage your costs carefully and minimise your risks, start small if you can to test your business concept and grow in proportion with your customer base and incoming finances.

Marketing mailings

Using direct marketing is a great way to launch your business and stay in contact with your target customers. Think about whether your customer would respond well to email, hard copy or a mixture of both. However, keep it targeted and carefully controlled. You will need a direct marketing mailing list and use a specialist company to help you gather the right data for your marketing efforts. This is where your customer research and demographics will prove useful.

Show me results!

Marketing results can be difficult to measure but always ensure you use tracking tools in email marketing software and where possible, keep things controlled. Use tools such as Google Analytics to help you monitor visitors to websites and blogs. Don’t embark on expensive advertising or logos unless you really need to. If you do, make sure you research your customer base and product positioning thoroughly before committing.

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Alex is the founder and editor of SmallBizPod, the UK's first podcast dedicated to small business, start-ups and entrepreneurship. Alex writes about topical small business issues, entrepreneurs and anything else that catches his eye here on the small business blog. http://www.smallbizpod.co.uk

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  1. James Coakes says:

    Our research indicates that while most business that have needed finance have a business plan less than 3% of others do. One of the main advantages of having a written plan that is regularly reviewed and added to is that it focuses the mind. This is essential, particularly with the entrepreneurial mindset.

  2. Jess Green says:

    Great post. I’m currently working on my plan for the 2nd half of 2012 and start of 2013. Dee Blick’s book The Ultimate Small Business Marketing Plan has been really helpful also. Only recently found your site and so far it’s been great.

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