Developing Your Small Business Marketing Plan

Along with your business plan, your small business marketing plans is only of the most important long-term plans you’ll make for your small business. Some small business owners choose to ignore that advice, instead preferring to fly by the seat of their pants, so to speak, to “wing it.” While some of those small business owners are successful, they’re not nearly as successful as they could be had they laid out a well-defined small business marketing plan.

Small business marketing strategy step 1: Know your market

The first step in developing a successful small business marketing strategy is to make sure that you have a really solid handle on your target market. Ask yourself: Who are my customers? Once you’ve identified who they are, ask yourself: What are my customers’ problems? What are their dreams and aspirations? The surest way to answer those questions, of course, is to ask your customers themselves. Even if you can’t afford to hire a small business marketing firm that will conduct focus group tests for you, you can do your own simple survey by hitting the streets and talking to those people you plan to sell to (and make contacts at the same time!). You’d be surprised how powerful that simple task is yet how few businesses do it.

Small business marketing strategy step 2: Know yourself

The second step in developing your small business marketing strategy is to get to know yourself (your business), once you’ve gotten to know your customers. Ask yourself: What does my business do? How is my business different than my competitors’? How does my business help solve my customers’ problems or help them achieve their dreams? Answering these questions will help you to define your unique selling proposition – those aspects that set you apart from your competitors.

That unique selling proposition should become your brand – your business’s identity. Your brand is what will pervade all of your marketing materials and what your customers will use to identify you. The importance of diligently developing your brand as part of a successful small business marketing strategy can’t be overstated.

Small business marketing strategy step 3: Analyze your competitors’ small business marketing strategies

Once you’ve developed your brand – that unique identity that tells your customers who you are and how you’re different – you can begin thinking about how you’re going to actually market your business. First, look at your competitors’ small business marketing strategies. Are there obvious gaps that you could fill (and thereby stand out among the competition)? For example, if you see that none of your competitors have websites, you could stand out with a small business marketing strategy online.

Wherever you market your business, it must be where your customers are. For example, small business marketing online will be a waste if none of your potential customers use the Internet. Likewise, you may think that writing a monthly column in your local newspaper would be a great way to advertise your services and establish yourself as an expert; but if none of your potential customers read that paper, that small business marketing strategy will fail.

At this point, your small business marketing strategy will not only be defined by where your customers are and what your competitors are doing, but it will also depend on your small business marketing budget. A full-page spread in a national magazine may be the best way to reach your target audience, but if you can’t afford to shell out tens of thousands of dollars, it’s not the small business marketing strategy for you.

Wherever your small business marketing plan takes you, the careful development of your small business marketing strategy – by knowing your market, knowing your business, and analyzing your competitors’ strategies – will be a critical determinant of your long-term business success.

Give Me Local Small Business Marketing And I’ll Whip My Dreams Into Profitable Business Over Night

If local small business marketing is unfamiliar to you, look at it this way. The target of every business is to get the word out to the maximum number of people to maximize marketplace exposure. In business, market exposure correlates with sales.

Go Online With Local Small Business Marketing

Today in our cyber era, having an effective online presence is of utmost importance. As people spend more and more time in front of the computer, chances are better and better that they will search online for the products and services that they will buy. The Internet allows small business owners to display your expertise directly to eager buyers. Unlike traditional media like billboards, television advertising and Yellow Pages, with online media local small business marketing no longer requires huge amounts of money.

Local Small Business Marketing Is Affordable

It’s true! There are some really cool ways to promote your local business, many of which are free, to attract the targeted leads you desire. Here are some of the methods:

  • Create web pages that feature keywords specific to your particular products and services. What do we mean by “keyword?” Anticipate what eager buyers type into the search engine box before they click [Search]. Savvy buyers are getting savvier. With local small business marketing you want to attract local customers.
  • Make sure to choose terms that people will look for to find local products and services. For example, if you own a Detroit furniture business, you don’t want to target phrase “furniture.” It’s too generic. Google it yourself and see 257 MILLION web pages containing that word. Instead, Detroit buyers will type the phrase “detroit office furniture” and search. Now I find 700 thousand competitive web pages and also that local map featuring local furniture merchants.
  • Build a blog and they will come. Your blog is the ideal way to tell your story and interact with an interested audience. You know? I know you’re great telling your story and persuading prospects sitting across the table from you. Write each blog post that way, as if you’re eyeball-to-eyeball with the largest possible audience. And they will hear your story today, tomorrow and next year — when they’re ready to hear it. Once you’re done writing your post, bookmark it in social book marking sites like Digg.com and StumbleUpon.com to promote even more traffic.
  • Last but not least, don’t forget a Facebook fan page. Now that Facebook is the third largest country in the world (China, India, Facebook, United States…) your Fan page facilitates keeping up with your customers regardless where they are. Local small business marketing benefits from Facebook patrons Like-ing your page and telling the world how great you are. Local patrons frequenting Facebook are more likely to pay attention to your local business when privy to your popularity. Additionally, Facebook facilitates instant communication with your audience whenever you do something noteworthy, like a special event or a special promotion.

Dream Big With Local Small Business Marketing

As local business marketing becomes easier and more familiar to you, eager buyers will notice. To maximize marketplace exposure your local business must be found. In business, market exposure correlates with sales. What do you have to lose by dreaming big and making local small business marketing an overnight sensation?

Small Business Marketing Is Easier Than You Think

Small business marketing is not only necessary to your success as an entrepreneur, it’s easier than you think. Statistics say your small business has a 1 in 6 chance of survival, but without effective, ongoing marketing, your odds are far less than that. Utilize proven small business marketing strategies that will let you spread the word about your business quickly and get in front of the right people.

Small business marketing can seem like a big task. After all, big corporations have entire departments devoted to nothing other than marketing, so what can you do with a one-woman (or one-man) show? The good news is…plenty! You can market your small business in a number of ways that will have your phone ringing, inbox filling up and your bank balance growing. One of the keys to success is to build a compelling brand and consistently create awareness for that brand.

Build Your Brand and Market

As important as what you do is, what you need to market is who you are and the solutions you offer – your brand. Think about it – when you think tomato soup, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Perhaps it’s Campbell’s red and white can. (It’s probably those cute little kids ice skating, right?) Campbell’s didn’t spend years promoting the vine-ripened tomatoes that make up their smooth, tasty soup, did they? No way! Instead, they taught us all that when you need tomato soup, there is no one else but Campbell’s. They marketed the brand, but they made millions off of the soup.

Don’t Hide Out

Be diligent about including your brand on everything that moves, along with everything that sits still. Every email you send should have your branding, and a link to your website. Same goes for every information product, brochure, video, audio product or flyer you send to anyone. It doesn’t matter what you put your branding on — it matters that your small business is everywhere people look. Make yourself known – and use your branding to do it.

Take Action In Spite Of Your Fear

One of the most important parts of your small business marketing strategy is your mindset. It’s a big, big world out there and there are millions of folks trying to get their share of the market by doing the same thing you do. Don’t allow yourself to feel overwhelmed. Instead of caving in to fear and scarcity, focus on creating results for your target market. Every single success story started with a person who wondered if they could make their dream happen – and then they went out and did it. You are no different. No matter what your emotions tell you, just dive in and do it, even when you’re afraid.

You Decide!

You don’t have to follow the pack and do the same old, same old. You can and should step out and start a trend rather than follow it. If you have an innovative idea for getting your name out there, go ahead and try it. The more unique and novel your idea is, the more interest and buzz it will create. As long as your strategy is planned and organized, you stand an excellent chance of gaining attention and creating a name for your business. Don’t be concerned if an idea isn’t proven. Everything was new and innovative once!

Successful small business marketing is easier than you think. Build your brand and your market by taking action and doing something new that shows who you are and why your business is the one your prospects need to choose. Step out of the tired old marketing box and try something new – and you’ll look at small business marketing in a whole new way.

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