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Small Business Tips

Marketing basics for small business owners

Manasa Reddigari

Ready to land your first customer‚ and make your first dollar as a small business owner? An effective marketing strategy can help you execute on your financial and operational goals. We've put together a short post on the marketing basics for small business owners. This will outline what marketing is, how it can improve your business and how to get started.

Why your small business needs marketing

If you have a business that's always filled with customers and clients and know, definitely, that will always be the case for the lifetime of the business, you may not need marketing. For the rest of us, marketing can have a positive impact on our top and bottom lines.  There are many definitions, but one I like to stick with is "measurable activities that help create and maintain customers." There are big, splashy ways to market like buying TV advertisements or billboards but you can make many smaller efforts that lead to more clients.

First marketing task: Perform market research

Meeting customer demand is at the cornerstone of marketing planning for small businesses. But to grow and maintain a customer base, you'll need to convince new customers to use your product or service.  Through market research, you can identify what drives customers in your intended market. It can be as simple as sending questionnaires to would-be customers. Market research can both reveal customer pain points and highlight demographic and economic trends. It can also help you tailor marketing outreach efforts to better resonate with customers.

Marketing for small business: Identify a target market

A targeted marketing strategy can take a limited marketing budget further than broad outreach efforts. Targeted marketing targets customers with whom you have a competitive advantage. These are the customers that your business will be able to serve best.  You can narrow your intended market to include only customers in a certain geographic area. Or, you can opt to perform marketing outreach only to customers most likely to purchase your product or service.

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Mind the four P's of marketing

Once you determine your target market and its needs, you can develop a marketing mix catered to this market. These are the tactics you will use to execute your marketing strategy. Known as the four P's of marketing, they include:

  • Product: What product or service will you offer customers? Strive for high-quality, value-added goods and services unique from competitor offerings.
  • Pricing: How much will your product or service cost customers? Price your products or services to achieve profitable sales volume.
  • Placement (Distribution): How will you distribute your product or service to customers? Consider selling your offering online for broader availability.
  • Promotion: How will you promote your product or service to customers? Include low-cost digital marketing strategies to boost your online presence.

How to create a marketing plan

The marketing plan will set forth how you plan to achieve your marketing goals so you can stick to them. Include information about your target market, competitive advantage, marketing mix and budget. This will enable you to fulfill marketing goals within budget and with a desirable return on investment.

Develop a strong brand identity

A memorable brand can instantly set you apart from competitors. Your brand can include everything from your logo to your business website. Customer messaging and marketing materials should also align with this brand identity.  Remember that as a business owner, you are also an extension of the brand. Present your brand favorably in customer interactions and elevator pitches about your business.

Expand your network

Social media and e-mail campaigns are among the most effective marketing tools in the digital era. But marketing planning for small businesses should still include word-of-mouth outreach. Networking with fellow professionals is a simple and often free way to spread the word about your business. It can also help you build lasting relationships that can mutually benefit you and your business contacts.

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