Small Business Marketing Plan – Increase Your Business Profit Without Breaking Your Marketing Budget

Most small business owners fail when it comes to their small business marketing plans. They’ve got excellent technical skills in their line of work, but that just doesn’t translate to having effective marketing skills.

As a result, profitability of many small businesses has been declining over the years. Ever increasing competition is making it more challenging in many ways. For those businesses that aren’t losing money, most are not producing the profit they could be if they knew how to market themselves properly.

These business owners usually just copy what they see other businesses doing, or they follow the advice of some media sales person. The problem is they copy the wrong types of businesses, and the media sales people typically only know as much about effective marketing as the business owner does.

Without the right kind of marketing system in place, the success of any business is by pure chance. To help remedy this situation, below are seven things a small business can do to increase profits while spending less on marketing.

1. Use the power of free stuff

Everyone likes getting free stuff and you can use that to your advantage. If your business lends itself to giving away free samples of your product, do that. It helps get people hooked on it. Business profits have boomed on this marketing model.

As Chris Anderson author of the book titled, “Free: The Future of a Radical Price” says, “You can make make money giving things away.”  In his book he talks about how businesses are giving away products and services they used to charge for, and in return, a percentage of their customers are buying something else. As a result, they are making more money than ever.

When you give something away, you often activate a universal law called the “Law of Reciprocity.” It says that when people get something free, they feel obligated to do something for you. Obviously it doesn’t work every time, but it does work enough of the time.

But there is another way to give away free stuff that can greatly benefit your business. When you do it right you get something very valuable in return: customer contact info…which leads us to the next tip.

2. Start capturing customer contact info and use it

One of the biggest mistakes small business owners make is not tapping their current customer base. They let customers visit their business (online or offline) all day long without ever trying to capture their contact info so they can continue to market products or services to them.

You likely know how expensive it can be to get a new customer. But you can market to your current customers for little or no cost. Capturing and using customer contact info can mean the difference between a profitable business and one that barely gets by.

Your business has more customer value in it than a customer can possibly digest in a short visit so if you aren’t continually marketing to your customers, you are throwing money away!

You can make customer contact capture easier simply by using the power of free from tip number one. Simply start a monthly drawing to give away something free and print some registration slips visitors can fill out. Also have people register online on your website.

Tell customers they only have to register once for all drawings and you will contact them monthly via email to let them know who won. Of course you will always include an offer for a product or service!

What do you give away? Anything with a perceived value makes a great free item. Free items do not have to be expensive. Buy something on sale at WalMart or at eBay and offer it. You can also offer free informational reports that help people solve their problems. People are always looking for ways to solve problems they are having.

Of course, once you capture this information you have to do something with it. If you’re too busy to take on any more work, then the next tip will help you out.

3. Use automated tools to keep in touch with customers

Once you have a customer list, I recommend you send a minimum of 25 “messages” a year to it. A message could be an email, direct mail piece, fax, or phone call.

If you don’t use an automated tool to do the work for you, you’ll likely be too busy to get the job done. When you automate, your messages go out regardless of how busy you get (the more messages that go out, the busier you’ll get).

One tool you can use is an email autoresponder, which is a web-based system that sends out emails when someone signs up. It sends out emails at intervals you set up. You can also set it up to send an email on a specific day, such as a holiday.

The great thing about an autoresponder tool is that you enter your messages in the autoresponder one time, then it automatically sends emails to your list. You can also broadcast messages any time you want.

Using this tool, keeping in touch with your customers is easy and it will help keep the competition from creeping in and stealing your customers because they’ve forgotten about you and the services you provide.

4. Stop marketing like you’re a big business.

Marketing a small business like it’s a big business is something almost every small business owner does. They just copy the marketing they see being done at large companies with big brands. This kind of marketing is called “brand identity,” “brand building,” or “image” marketing.

This is a HUGE waste of advertising money for a small business. You simply don’t have the resources you need to support a successful branding campaign.

Brand advertising typically has no “call to action,” (they don’t ask you to do anything). They just give you features of the product or service, or they entertain you without asking you to do anything.

Brand advertising is usually benefit free. The viewer has to determine if there is a benefit to them. It may contain a list of features and the user will have to assign their own benefit to each feature. It is usually focused on the product or provider of the product instead if the customer.

A successful marketing campaign for a small business is created around direct response marketing techniques.

5. Use old fashioned direct response techniques in new ways

The kind of marketing plan that works for a small business is direct response marketing. It doesn’t require a huge marketing budget to use effectively. It can be used for all types of products and services.

And the good news is that you don’t even have to hire an advertising agency to do it since it doesn’t require creativity. All you have to do is learn the basic structure of direct response marketing and you can easily increase the sales your business makes.

Direct response sales copy always asks the reader or viewer to take some sort of action i.e. “Call in the next 5 minutes, and we’ll include a free set of Ginzu steak knives!”.

It may ask for the sale directly if a full “sales presentation” was done (one-step advertising), or it may ask them to request more information (two-step advertising). It will at a minimum, ask the reader to take some form of “traceable” action so you know if it is working or not.

There should always be a headline for written advertisements! Never put your company logo at the top of a direct response advertisement. That’s brand advertising.

Whenever you create an advertisement in any form always look at them from the customer point of view. Look it and ask “Who gives a crap?” about everything in it. Do you think the customer cares about your logo. No! They care about what you can do for them. Put in benefits and not features. Let the customer know what’s in it for them. A successful direct response ad for a small business includes several things:

  • An offer to buy something
  • Sufficient information for the consumer to make a decision to act now (or directions on how to get more info)
  • An explicit “call to action” sooner rather than later
  • A clear way to respond such as a telephone number or web page
  • A means of tracking the response.

Direct response advertising is not just used for mail campaigns. You use it in all forms of media: print, web, mail, and broadcast. Take a look at all the advertising you are currently doing no matter where it is and start making the change now.

6. Use the Internet to advertise for free

Even though websites as we know them have existed since around the early 90s, only 49%* of small businesses currently have a website *9/08, Barlow Research. It’s surprising how many businesses do not understand how powerful this marketing tool is. If you don’t have a website, get one because there is no better source of free advertising!

The Internet has hundreds of “Web 2.0” websites where you post “content” for free. The content can be text, videos, or audios you create and it can lead people to your business. Plus, it helps establish you as an expert in your field.

EzineArticles.com is one such place you can post content. There was no charge to post this article. All I had to do is write it, post it, and then you found it.

You can put links in the “author resource” section, to drive traffic to a page on your website. The articles you post in EzineArticles can rank extremely well in Google search results with a little help from you.

You also want to get your business listed in places like Google Local if you do local business. Once again this is absolutely free.

Once you learn how to do use the Internet for promotion you’ll have a head start on the future of advertising and you get customers for free!

7. Outsource routine marketing tasks so you can work on the growing your business

One of the biggest problems small business owners have is that they get so consumed by working IN their business, they don’t have time to work ON their business. So no growth can occur.

When it comes to marketing yourself on the Internet, there are ways to use “virtual assistants” to do most of the work for you. A virtual assistant is someone you hire on a full or part-time basis who does the work for you.

But a virtual assistant is not a direct employee so you don’t provide benefits or have the normal hassles of an employee. They are usually located somewhere in the world that has low-cost wages so they are very affordable. That’s the beauty of the Internet and the communication it provides.

Virtual assistants aren’t just confined to small business marketing plan tasks though. They can do almost anything for you: reservations, schedule appointments, answer phones, customer service, send flowers, buy a present for your spouse, find someone to fix your car, website development, accounting, software development, writing, graphics, or anything you need.

There are lots of resources on the Internet that can help you find a virtual assistant.

Create Your Small Business Marketing Plan Now!

Use these seven marketing tips to start building your small business marketing plan right now. If you procrastinate, your busy life will get in the way of business growth. Even if you only take a little of the advice you’ve been given, you’ll find it can have a big impact on the profitability of your business.

Small Business Marketing Consultant: Are They Really Worth It?

The debate continues on whether hiring a small business marketing consultant is a worthy investment, especially for small businesses who have limited resources to begin with. However, businesses of all sizes and from different industries can largely benefit from these professional services that make it worthy of looking into. You may be proficient at the specific area of business that you are offering your customers, but not all business owners are equipped with the marketing skills to ensure that they can get their marketing message to the intended audience.

The concept of marketing is deceivingly simple. There are several methods that you can use to market your products or services to your target customers. However, there are also several variables that can prevent the message from reaching its intended audience. Expert consultants will be able to identify what factors can lead to more success and what are not working efficiently. Generally speaking, a consulting agency can help you develop marketing strategies for small business. However, there are more benefits that await you.

The main reason why you should invest on professional consulting for your business is to bring in a new dimension of thinking. With an impartial view from a business marketing expert, you will be able to see the larger picture to devise more effective marketing solutions. The internal politics and management needs within a company can hinder one’s ability to devise an effective strategy. With an outside view, they can recommend marketing strategies for small business that is designed to meet your goals based on their experience and expertise.

Another practical benefit that you can enjoy with a consultant is the cost-efficiency. You only pay for services that you get. Also, you have control over the level of consulting services that they provide. You can therefore expect maximum efficiency and productivity with the number of hours that you pay them for consulting services. In fact, it is very practical since you can put your consultant on hold whenever business is slow and hire them again as needed.

You can also task your consultant to handle your entire marketing department. Any business owner is aware that there is a lot going on with running a business. Thus, marketing is often neglected or not done as efficiently as if you had someone who can look over marketing strategies for small business. With a business consultant, it is now possible because you can leverage their professional expertise to devise a marketing approach suited for various situations.

Ideally, you should hire a consultant when a situation comes up in your business organization that requires for a marketing job outside of the existing marketing duties in your business. These situations include any or a combination of the following: introducing new product, newly formed business, launching a product line, setting up new distribution channels, or troubleshooting business marketing schemes.

The above-mentioned benefits to hiring a small business marketing consultant is just a general glimpse into the services offered. The best feature about a consulting service is that it is highly flexible; thus, you can make use of this service regardless of the size, scope, and type of business you are in.

Discover The Essentials Of Effective Small Business Marketing Strategy

A good small business marketing strategy creates a method of efficiently communicating to current customers and prospect customers to prefer your business over other businesses coming from the same industry you belong.

Your local venture’s success depends greatly on how you are going to market it. This is usually done with a bunch of advertising efforts which are primarily done online. You can either get help from marketing experts or do the promotion by yourself.

Here are some important marketing ideas that every marketing strategy should have.

Target Market

Select your target market. Right from the start; make it clear to whom you are going to offer your products and services. This can help you develop more effective advertising campaigns.

Market Research

Once you have identified the object of your small business marketing strategy, research about the behavior, desires, interests and needs of your marked audience. Discover what they are looking for in your type of business and then use this information to develop an advertising campaign that will attract them.

Know your market environment. Marketing a product or service that nobody wants is a sure way to small business failure. Most entrepreneurs assume that their customers will like the things that they personally like and decide to sell. This practice definitely limits a business’ ability to produce profit, thus, business fails. So, support your assumptions with market research.

Competition Analysis

Analyze the status of your competitors. Know the strategies they use to promote their products and services. Study their strong and weak points. You can use your findings in advertising your small business.

Distinctive Business Spin

Discover how your business is going stand out in your niche. Offer what your competitors can’t. Perhaps, it is better quality or faster services at lower prices. Be careful though, in marking down your prices just to attract customers. Customers may not always be looking for lower prices. They may be willing to pay higher fees for the best product or services.

Communication

How then are you going to make yourself reachable by your prospect market? Big, medium and small businesses go for online marketing when it comes to promoting their ventures. In connection to that, what has worked big time for small businesses in the recent years is local search engine marketing.

It is similar to the typical search engine marketing, the only difference is the size of the business it promotes and the specific market it directs. Herewith, website owners compete for top rankings in the search engine results to ensure getting the first views from potential customers. This is important as these views can convert to actual sales.

Consistency

The moment you go for online marketing, use a consistent statement or brand with which you are going to use in promoting your products and services to your market. This helps your customers remember you and return for more of what you have in store for them. Although, you will just be targeting a local market include branding in your small business marketing strategy as this makes you distinguishable amidst a pool of competitors.