For a business to be successful, it must obtain new customers and retain existing customers through a strong marketing presence. While marketing programs vary in specifics, all competent marketing programs have a similar premise – convince potential customers to try a product or service and existing customers to continue using a product or service.

Business owners should familiarize themselves with some basics of marketing to ensure their marketing strategy is best serving their goals and needs.

Marketing 101

The ultimate value in marketing mirrors the vital importance of the customer to a business. In other words, a business won’t even be a business long if it doesn’t have customers buying its’ products and/or services, and it doesn’t get and retain those customers without marketing efforts.

The two most important principles of marketing are:

1. Any company activity and policy should be geared toward customer satisfaction and needs.

2. Maximum sales volume isn’t as important as profitable sales volume.

To put these principles into practice, small business owners need to ensure they’re taking five steps:

1. Marketing research.
2. Marketing strategy.
3. Target marketing.
4. Remembering what’s behind the marketing efforts.
5. An analysis of marketing performance.

Market Research

If market information is outdated and/or irrelevant to your business, then it’s useless and will spell doom for whatever marketing strategy is employed. There are some very cost-friendly research programs that can help you gain information related to new products and services, marketing strategies used by competitors, dissatisfaction, sale and profitability trends, emerging legal issues, national and local economic issues, and population shifts so that you can efficiently identify both opportunities and problems that need to be addressed. Most of these programs use simple questionnaires to gauge current and potential customer reactions.

Marketing Strategy

Customer groups are identified that would be better served by you than a competitor. Product offerings, distributions, pricing, promotions, and services can then be geared toward these groups within the market so long as there is worthwhile profitability expected.

Target Marketing

Small business owners are usually working on a very limited budget, especially when it comes to marketing dollars. Most will usually find it most financially advantageous to concentrate marketing efforts by target marketing, or focusing on their key market segments. This can be done geographically, meaning the focus is on customers in a particular neighborhood, city, state, or region. It can also be per customer, meaning identifying and focusing on people most likely to buy.

Marketing Program

Many small business owners get so caught up in ‘show and tell’ strategy behind marketing that they forget about what it is they’re actually marketing. All marketing programs must address four key areas to be successful:

1. Products and services strategies – For some businesses, this strategy may include focusing on a single product or a specific, small product line to market. Other businesses may find they have a highly specialized or high-quality product or service or even some revolutionary service-product package to offer.

2. Distribution – How a manufacturer distributes their product can significantly affect their budget. Established distributors or agents would be a safe, easy bet for small manufacturers. Small retailers might be better served with carefully selecting a site location that offers cost and traffic flow advantages for marketing. Of course, businesses should consider the nature of their service or product in the traffic flow scenario. Products and services that are so unique or special that people hunt them down won’t benefit as much from high-traffic sites as a product or service that’s largely built to be an impulse buy. The breadth of the market being served is also a factor now since many small businesses have an expanded national or international market thanks to segmented mailing lists that can be purchased.

3. Pricing – As a general rule, higher prices accompany lower volume and lower prices accompany higher volume. That said, small businesses can often have the best of both if they’re offering high-quality personalized or specialized products and/or services.

4. Promotion -Advertising and customer interaction are the key elements of promotional marketing. Friendly,intelligent customer service and salesmanship are absolutely vital to small businesses with limited advertising dollars. Remember, a bad first impression will usually be the customer’s last impression. Direct mail, phone book advertising, and local newspaper advertising are some low-cost portals for small business advertising.

Company And Marketing Performance

Employees aren’t hired and then never checked up on to see if he/she is actually earning their paycheck. Marketing programs are no different. Have performance standards in place to ensure the results are living up to expectations. If not, it’s time to reevaluate and regroup.

Likewise, it’s important to do at least a quarterly audit of the company’s performance to ensure the company stays customer-oriented, employees are doing everything necessary to satisfy new customers and keep them returning, and that customers are finding what they want and at a competitive price.


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