Marketing : identifying an “opportunity gap”
Marketing is core to growing and developing a successful business over time..It has been defined as …… “Identifying and understanding your customers and their needs – so that you can get the right product or service to them, at the right price, at the right time and in the right place – so that you make a profit”
Marketing is about identifying the opportunity gaps in the marketplace. Quality market research enables you to identify whether customers have a particular need or expectation that is not being completely met by existing suppliers.
It involves a careful assessment of your potential competition and identifying whether there is a way in which you might be able to differentiate yourself from them in order to compete effectively.
Marketing and communication
Decisions about how best to communicate with your selected target market and how to most effectively promote, advertise and sell your product or service to your customers are key elements of any marketing plan.
For those of you producing a product, the design of your packaging should be marketing related decisions. The design of your website and your brochures, the type of language used, and ensuring that the colours and the overall look will have appeal to your target market – all of these considerations will be important components of your marketing and branding.
Running a focus group with a small sample of your customers, or asking them to complete a simple questionnaire can be a further way that your small business can learn more about their needs, interests and expectations. Marketing is about listening to your customer and being responsive to their feedback.
You might think that your business sells a product or service, but the marketing perspective is that you are selling a solution to a customer problem. The more effective you can be at listening to your customer, then the more likely you will offer a solution that will work for them …….. and consequently they will not only return to you in the future but also will recommend you to other people.
As mentioned earlier, a marketing plan will involve considerations around how you will advertise and promote your service or product to your customer. In a crowded marketplace where there is a lot of “noise”, you have to be able to grab the attention of your target market and engage with them. This means you’re not just selling the “steak” but the sizzle as well !
So marketing is about keeping your business adaptable, fresh and relevant – which means being open to new ideas and new ways of doing things …
It’s all about your customer
In a nutshell, the marketing function is to ensure that the customer and their needs are the focal point throughout your business ……. And the systems, procedures and any organisational structure you might subsequently develop to support the efficient delivery of your product or service, retains a customer focus to them as well. This is where sometimes larger businesses can become disconnected from their customers, because of the bureaucracy that is created.
Your advantage as a small business is the close and intimate relationship that you can develop with your customers – and hence be quicker to respond when you recognise that their needs may be changing.
Marketing 101 – The fundamentals
This is a great short video that describes some of the simple but essential concepts of marketing for small business
Digital marketing for small business
The speaker in this short clip presents a compelling case for getting your small business online and utilising social media as a core part of your internet marketing strategy
Search engine optimisation (SEO) needs to form part of any internet marketing plan for your small business and for some more information on this, visit our page What is SEO
Three quick marketing tips for your small business
Marketing Tip 1. Set up joint promotions with other local small businesses
Contact some non-competing small businesses serving customers in your market. Offer to publicize their products or services to your customers in exchange for their publicizing your services to their customers. This strategy has been shown to deliver improved sales for a relatively low cost.
Marketing Tip 2. Leverage your existing customers
Your existing customers have come to know you and trust you. Research has proven that it’s easier to get more business from them than to get any business from somebody who has never bought from you. So why not take advantage of this by creating some special deals just for your existing customers… and announce new products and services to them before you announce them to the general market
Marketing Tip 3. Convert your customers into sales people for your business.
Develop a reward that you can offer to your current customers to tell their neighbors, work associates and friends about the value of your products or services. An endorsement from them is likely to be much more effective than any amount of advertising that you might do- and it will be much more cost-effective
Small Business Blog
If you are wanting to get more useful tips on growing your small business, then take a look at our blog Small Business Australia. – heaps of interviews with successful small business owners who share proven marketing ideas.