Start with market research
The saying ‘Look before you leap’ applies to small business marketing as well as life. Market research will give you insights into how potential customers think, what they are looking for, who they are, and how they look for products and services. Next look for trends on how people are purchasing the products or services you are offering. Based the information you uncover, create a profile of your customer. This is sometimes called a ‘persona’ and paints of picture of a typical target customer. This persona creates a description based on demographic data such as their age, gender, income, location, education and marital status.
Gathering information about your customers can be a challenge if you haven’t done so in the past. You can begin with data you already have, such as postal codes. Beyond that, you can survey customers to get additional information about themselves. When you have the information, determine if customers fit into particular segments. Do you notice any trends based on their location, gender, income, education level, interests and the main reasons for using your products or services? Answering this question will help you connect with the various segments of your target market.
Create your business brand
It has been said that ‘Marketing is what you do’ and ‘Branding is what you are.’ Your brand is what you believe, how you interact with your customers, and what your customers experience when using your products or services. Branding is also your visual identity including your logo, corporate colours and packaging. If you are a new business, you will want to consider all the aspects of your branding including your business name and tagline. The business name will determine how people perceive you. It can be catchy and fun or more serious, depending on what you are offering.
Even if you have an established brand, you will want to update it from time to time. If your brand image dates back to the 1990s, you will want to think about ways to modernise it. Besides the logo, this can include all the ways your customers interact with you – from how you answer the phone and product packaging, to your logo and how you format proposals.
Write a small business marketing plan
Like a business plan, a marketing plan enables makes you focus and plan. Here is where you develop marketing strategy and marketing tactics. Start by analysing your business, including why you exist, your products or services, your objectives, your finances, and strengths and weaknesses.
After focusing inward, the next step is to look at your market. This includes examining what your target audience members are buying and who are they buying it from. The idea is not to copy your competitors but find ways to do it better, more economically or faster to attract people that are using other suppliers.
The next step is to plan the small business marketing activities you will use. This can include developing your website, creating advertising and social media campaigns, and using email marketing. All marketing ideas should be open for consideration if they can generate a return on investment.
Create a marketing budget and allocate it to the platforms and activities you choose. As a guideline, it’s recommended that you spend around five per cent of your annual revenue on marketing.
Follow up after implementing small business marketing activities
Once you implement your marketing activities, you will want to monitor and evaluate them for results. See what is generating the best results for you. Cancel any marketing activities that aren’t delivering a return on investment. Use Moula’s ROI Calculator to determine the return on investment from your marketing activities.