Prepare Yourself Properly Before Marketing
What does “marketing” really mean for a small business? For you, it might include events, public relations, trade shows or advertising. But for other small businesses, it might mean different things, like electronic newsletters, packaging, postcards—and even the hats, uniforms or nametags that employees wear.
In fact, think of marketing not as a single action but rather a combination of steps your business takes to identify, attract and retain profitable customers. As such, marketing is of vital importance to your business, so you want to make sure and do it right. And that means preparing yourself properly before you spend money on marketing.
If you play a sport, you know that preparation is vital for success. Ditto for marketing your business. You must be able to clearly identify what sets you apart from the competition. Without this knowledge, you can’t market yourself properly.
Verify the accuracy of marketing information before you proceed. To prepare yourself for marketing, create a detailed profile of your ideal prospect. As you create your marketing message, aim it at them and list the benefits they will receive. Be certain your marketing message highlights the special knowledge and expertise you offer.
Look for ways to make the buying process easier for your customers. What roadblocks can you remove? Simplify everything; eliminate potential interruptions in the sales process and make decision-making as painless as possible for your customers.
Put your marketing budget in proper perspective. You might, for example, think of marketing as your ace-in-the-hole rather than merely a “cost.” Try to set a budget and a pace that lets you market continuously. Customer memories are short, and they are bombarded with thousands of marketing messages and images daily. Your effort must be ongoing or people will quickly forget.
Match your marketing to your primary market. If it’s a local market, then that’s where your marketing focus should be. Broadly focused newspaper or radio advertising, for example, might be the wrong choice. Instead, consider marketing neighborhood-by-neighborhood.
A good place to find marketing help is www.MarketingPower.com, a free Web site produced by the American Marketing Association. The site offers authoritative information on all marketing topics from advertising, Internet marketing and research, to strategy, public relations and items specific to small business.
For additional planning help for your small business, contact SCORE “Counselors to America’s Small Business.” SCORE is a nonprofit organization of more than 10,500 volunteer business counselors who provide free, confidential business counseling and training workshops to small business owners. Call (570) 851.1608 or visit www.scorescranton.org to contact the Greater Scranton Area SCORE Chapter.