Many small businesses shy away from marketing and whether you’ve avoided getting to grips with marketing because you feel there isn’t any room in your budget it’s well worth bearing in mind that successful marketing can be done on even a tiny budget – provided you get the marketing mix right.
Marketing is not just about spending money: a proactive attitude and a few creative ideas can all help you reach new customers and broaden your business contacts. Before you embarking on a new marketing strategy, you may have to face the fact that you’ll have to step out of your comfort zone. Marketing is all about grabbing the spotlight and drawing attention to yourself and your businesses and if you’ve been avoiding marketing because you simply feel too shy or embarrassed, now is the time to give it a try.
So what makes a successful marketing mix? There’s no simple answer to this as when it comes to marketing, one size doesn’t fit all. The right marketing strategy for your businesses will depend on a range of factors and you’ll need to take into account the size and type of your business and your budget. The general principle of marketing for small businesses is that time, enthusiasm and energy make a far better investment than large amounts of cash. Start by setting aside one day each month to devote to marketing, even if this means spending your evenings or weekends working on it.
Social media marketing is an incredibly popular marketing tool for small businesses and it’s not hard to see why: social media marketing is free and the only investment you’ll need is your time. Just a few minutes a day on Twitter or Facebook will help you engage with your clients or customers, build an online reputation and tell people what you’re offering.
Creativity is another free and potentially very successful way to market your company. Write down every single marketing idea you come up with – no matter how ridiculous you think it sounds. There is a whole range of low-cost or free marketing options covering everything from sponsorship opportunities through to social media marketing or wacky publicity stunts. Let your imagination run riot and you’ll be amazed at what you come up with! You may well find that some of your best ideas – those all-important ‘light bulb moments’ – hit you in the middle of the night so carrying a pen and paper at all times is essential!
If your marketing strategy is going to work it needs to be consistent. Finding the perfect marketing mix to suit your business can take time and successful marketing is, by its very nature, tenacious. Marketing is essential in both good times and bad – the worst think you can do is turn you’re marketing on and off because if you’re committed to a long-term marketing strategy you’ll reap the rewards.
Before you spend any money on marketing make sure you do your sums carefully. Any marketing opportunity that may be offered – no matter how good it sounds – needs to be looked into and the costs calculated. Write down how much it’s going to cost you and then work out how much businesses you’ll need to bring in to make it worth your while. Whether it’s advertising, direct mail or networking, if the numbers don’t stack up you should walk away.
Finally, make sure you double-check and then double-check again the market for your products and your target audience. You need to constantly think about what may have changed in the economic climate: bear in mind that people will buy from you if they need your products and it’s important to remember that these needs can change. Keep this in mind and you’ll be able to develop a strong, relevant marketing strategy that’s designed to stand the test of time.