In these challenging times, all businesses, both large and small, are waking up to the fact that without a structured, properly targeted marketing plan, their business is instantly disadvantaged and highly likely to flounder in a difficult economic climate.
However, throwing huge sums of money into the marketing budget is not necessarily the answer; it's knowing how to use that budget effectively that can set you above the competition.
First and foremost, you need to know your market and your competition. Basically this means you have to provide and product or service that people want. You also have to be able to offer it at a price and service level to ensure you are competitive. What you offer has to match or better your competitors' strengths and capitalise on their weaknesses.
If you understand your customer then you understand your market. You need to know who your customers are and what they want. Do not confuse this with what they need; want has far more pulling power, and can point you towards what motivates them to buy. Try and establish how they might normally purchase your product or service. Buying your first house will undoubtedly involve an estate agent, but will almost certainly begin with an internet search. Finding a plumber on the other hand is more likely to involve local publications and word of mouth. Few people are motivated to buy on price alone - need, greed and vanity all come into the equation.
Select your market carefully. No business can be all things to all people; try to spread yourself too thinly and the competition will swamp you. Focus on your major strengths – target them to a narrower but more receptive customer base. If you can dominate a niche market then you will always be in demand.
Develop your marketing message. A first impression takes just 7 seconds to register. Your initial marketing message should therefore have enough impact to instantly tell your customer what you do, and why they want you to do it. Once you have their attention, your full marketing package can be brought into effect and should include a summary of your customer's problem, a comprehensive explanation of not just how it can be solved, but why you are the person to solve it and an honest explanation of costs and terms. Back this up with testimonials from satisfied customers, your unconditional guarantee and a proven commitment to customer service and the battle is almost won.
Determine your marketing media. It is essential to match your message to your market via the correct medium. Your mobile hairdressing business is never going to benefit from a nationwide radio campaign, any more than Mr Dyson would have captured the vacuum market with a card in his local newsagent.
Remember your niche – this is where knowing your customers will pay off. The marketing methods at your disposal are almost infinite, from telemarketing to window displays, networking seminars to word of mouth, leaflet drops to full size advertising hoardings. But no matter how big, bold and eye catching your message, if it's not reaching the right people it's money down the drain. It's essential to choose the marketing medium that gives you the best return at the lowest cost.
Set sales and marketing goals. If you enter business without a clear picture of what your goals are then you are most likely doomed to failure. The very act of putting them down on paper is often enough to reveal whether they are realistic and achievable. Take a common sense approach and know that you are never going to put Starbucks out of business, but you may just have the best coffee and cupcake shop in town, and if you simply break even with your car sales you might as well have stayed at home. Your business goals should be measurable and time specific and include financial projections, so that at any given time you can check exactly where you are on the scale of success or failure and deal with it accordingly. Review your marketing strategy regularly so you can see what works and what doesn't at the earliest opportunity. Keeping track of your marketing budget is essential, and never commit to any marketing or advertising medium at the time it is presented to you. A slick salesperson can make the most unsuitable advertising medium sound plausible, and the most ridiculous sales figures appear achievable. Before you know it, you've signed away a huge proportion of your budget with absolutely no guarantee of success.
Here at thebestof Southend, we're not shy about blowing our own trumpet! It's clear from the above that local businesses need predominantly to target their local area; they need dynamic visual, printed and online marketing tools and a highly respected, professional platform upon which to showcase their products and services. It is also invaluable to be able to target customers with special offers from time to time, and for the testimonials of happy customers to be easily accessible to potential new customers.
This is just a fraction of what thebestof Southend can do for your business, and for your customers and the community. Click on the link or give us a call; we will be delighted to share our skills to give you and your business the best possible showcase.
Member since: 10th July 2012
I am the very proud owner of thebestofsouthend. My aim is to really shout about why Southend is so great & champion our local business owners who do a really great job!
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