Know Your Small Business Marketing Strategy...

As a new small business, your marketing strategy is one of the first things you'd better figure out. If you've never started a business before and haven't gone to business school, you may not understand what I mean. I didn't know about marketing when I was starting my first business.

Let me say it again, in words a non-MBA (like most of us) will understand. “It's time to plan the details of exactly how you're going get the customers you need to build your business.”

Many new small business owners get fooled into thinking, “If I build it, they will come.” This is just not true. If it were, business failure statistics would look much different.

No, the sad truth is that most new business owners start their business with their fingers crossed, hoping that things will work out for the best. But you don't need to make that mistake. So lets talk about marketing.

First of all- what's marketing? It's all the ways you connect with the consumer (your customer & niche market) and how they will relate to your products or services. This includes

  • your prices
  • how you stack up against the competition
  • where people will find & buy your goods
  • your promotions & ads
Your business plan is all about you and your business. Marketing's all about the consumer and you.

That covers a LOT, doesn't it? Don't panic... you can do this. Just knowing that you need a small business marketing strategy gives you a head start on success. If you already did a business plan of some kind, then you've probably done half the work!

When I started my retail business, I was inspired but unprepared. I didn't know much about business (plans or marketing) so I didn't budget for advertising (the first of many mistakes).

The first year I was in business, I kept smacking my head, saying “I never thought about that.” Don't make that mistake. A marketing plan is your friend.

Your marketing plan and/or small business marketing strategy is where you plan the details about how you intend to “woo, wow and win” your customers. It's about everything you'll do to

  1. find consumers that are interested in your kind of business,
  2. build a relationship with them,
  3. turn them into paying customers
  4. keep them as happy customers.

Without customers, you won't have a business for long, and won't need that wonderful business plan. No matter how wonderful your product or service, whether it's online or off, people have to know about it.

I'm sure you've noticed that here's a lot businesses competing for attention. You need your own personal small business marketing strategy just to survive. That's why advertising and promotions are such a large part of your small business marketing strategy.

Advertising is where you (usually) pay to talk about your business, and persuade someone to buy from your business. While useful, this gets expensive in a hurry. You'll need to learn about other ways of promoting your business.

Compared to business promotions, advertising is easy... you pay for it and you're done with it. (I'm over simplifying again- sorry.)

Promotions can be anything, from simply handing out your business cards to sponsoring a kids sports team. It can be networking with a local business group or speaking at an event. It can be as simple and fun as using Twitter or Facebook or a blog to give your business a face... and create your own brand recognition. Using the internet for social network marketing lets you reach a much broader market then ever before. Try it!

Business promotion doesn't come naturally to most people. Maybe you were told to not talk about yourself. My mom said, “don't toot your own horn.” (No, she wasn't an entrepreneur.) You will need to get over this way of thinking... fast! Wherever you are meeting the public, you can be promoting your business. Don't be embarrased to promote yourself... be proud that you own a business.

To learn more about strategies to market your small business, I'd suggest you find a copy of Guerrilla Marketing, by Jay Levinson. The reason I recommend his books is because he writes simply and is understandable.

There's a whole series of his “Guerrilla” books... try to find a current copy because he talks about internet marketing ideas as well as “real world” ones. Read this book. He'll open your eyes to lots of simple small business marketing strategy(ies) that are often low cost.

Does this seem like a lot of work? Well, it is. Especially if you're just starting a business for yourself with no employees. Good planning takes time, research and lots of thought. But it's far easier than closing your business for lack of sales.

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