Business-minded people all over the country hope to enter into a venture that is sustainable, self-sufficient, and successful. These plans may begin with a simple whim, but the long-reaching goal is wide-sweeping and long-reaching. All dreams are possible. However, you must start with wise planning, of which marketing is integral.
As a small business there are three basic milestones to success:
- Establishing a Business Model
- Developing a Marketing Strategy
- Maintaining Customer Loyalty
Before the business can open, before any money can be earned, these steps must be thoroughly researched and refined. This is true whether the business owner operates virtually or in the real world. No business is sustainable without a solid plan.
1. Establishing a Business Model
Establishing a business model means taking a good idea and turning it into a great one. How this is accomplished is by measuring the need for the product or service against the expected outcome.
Along with establishing a business model is determining financing. How much capital will it take for the business to get off the ground? How long can the business operate without realising a profit? Keep in mind; most small businesses do not see a profit for the first three to five years. However, this does not mean one should avoid business ownership altogether. It simply means that entrepreneurs must develop smart strategies to spend their money wisely.
2. Developing a Marketing Strategy
The top priority in spending and saving is marketing. Every entrepreneur, regardless of their business type, must have name recognition to be successful. If a potential customer is unaware that the business exists, it will cease to do so.
Developing a successful marketing strategy does not mean a huge investment in money, though it does involve a significant investment of time. Arguably, at least at the beginning, as much time should be spent on marketing the business as is spent on the business itself. Some business owners choose to outsource marketing. Others choose to create and carry it out on their own. Regardless of choice, if you want to know how to develop a marketing strategy for your small business, the basics remain the same.
(a) Determine Key Personas
Marketing to mass audiences is a mistake. Choosing a broad-sweeping message may appear better, but this only works for already established business with significant profit margins. Determine who is most likely to be interested in a particular business and market to that group.
Start by looking at the marketing used by similar businesses. Find who they focus their efforts on, determine if that is applicable to you, and strive to find groups that have yet to be singled out by others in the field.
(b) Market Specifically to Those Personas
Who are these people, what do they want, and which message works best for them? Empathy goes a long way when choosing marketing strategies. Is the key persona a retailer? Focus on how your product or service can simplify their lives or save them time. Knowing what each group’s needs are is the ideal approach.
(c) Choose Marketing Medium Wisely
Online marketing is arguably the best bet for small businesses. It costs very little to have well-made website, rich in keywords, with the right calls-to-action and landing pages is best. Updating a blog or social media keeps the business current without incurring extra cost.
(d) Avoid Marketing Pitfalls
The two biggest marketing mistakes made by small businesses involve money. They either spend too much or not enough. While it’s important to set a budget for marketing, it is unwise to spend it all at once. Ensure you allow ample time and money to determine if a marketing strategy is working. If it is not, and budget allows, it can be changed. Not every business gets it right on the first try.
3. Maintaining Customer Loyalty
Once a business model and marketing strategy are in place, entrepreneurs need to determine how to maintain customer loyalty. Excellent products or services at reasonable prices are naturally desirable, but they are typically secondary to customer service expertise.
Building relationships with clients is vital to growth and stability. This requires serious dedication to customer service. Ask questions of the customers and really listen to what they have to say instead of simply waiting for an opportunity to sell. Provide real solutions to their problems. Regardless of the type of business, customers always want to spend time and money with those who take their needs seriously. This requires open lines of communication and a service-oriented attitude.
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