Marketing for small business means attracting and retaining customers. It is defined as the process by which a company promotes, sells and distributes a product or service. Through marketing, businesses are able to generate customer interest and then use that interest to generate sales. All businesses, whether big or small, must market themselves effectively in order to grow and prosper.
Marketing is about communicating key aspects of your business to your customers, including:
- Information about your company, products and services
- What makes your business unique
- What customer need you are addressing and why they should buy from you
Marketing builds on the information obtained during your market research activities. Based on your research, you should have been able to define your target market and have an understanding of their needs and preferences. In addition, you should be aware of competitors, their products, prices and how they reach their customers. This information helps you develop a marketing approach focused specifically on your target market in a way that differentiates you from the competition.
The Four P’s
When deciding on the most effective way to market your business, it is often helpful to analyze four key factors that influence the purchase decision. These factors are known as the four P’s of marketing:
- Product: What are you planning to sell?
- Price: How much are you going to charge for your product?
- Place: Where are people going to buy your product?
- Promotion: How are people going to find out about your product?
These factors can be documented in a marketing plan that can either be its own stand-alone document or incorporated into a larger business plan. Your plan should include a detailed promotional calendar outlining your marketing activities and the costs associated with each activity. Many entrepreneurs starting new business underestimate how much money marketing requires, particularly in the launch phase of the business.
Marketing Tips for Start-up Businesses
- Invest in business cards – make sure that your contact information is clear and that you provide a description of your products and services (use the back of the card)
- Take advantage of free or low cost marketing resources such as networking groups, social media, local business directories, press releases about your business, event sponsorship for local charitable organizations, etc.
- Develop a strong elevator pitch – a brief 30-60 second introduction that describes your business, products or services in a captivating way. You can include an interesting story or fact about yourself or the business that makes your pitch more memorable
- Ask for referrals and testimonials from your existing customers
- Consider offering incentive programs to encourage repeat business
There are many different ways to market your business to your customers. Your promotional methods and message are critical to attracting customers and generating sales. Marketing is an ongoing business activity, and will need to evolve with your business, your customers and the market.
Resources and Links
Marketing and Sales Guide on Canada Business Network
Marketing for Small Business Guide from the Royal Bank