There is a very good chance you are already doing marketing because a lot of it is common sense. For a small business, it lets people know you are in business and gives customers reasons why they should do business with you. In this guide, we will look at the basics of marketing and give you an action plan to develop some further plans.
Marketing refers to activities a business undertakes to sell more of a product or service. Marketing includes researching, advertising, selling, and delivering products to consumers or other businesses.
The simplest form of marketing is how you answer the phone or what you wear through to a complex integrated plan across newer mediums like the internet or older like radio advertising.
WHY do I need to do marketing?
For any small business to succeed you need customers who know or can find that your product exists and who trust your business enough to buy your product.
Marketing helps by looking at your business and adjusting how customers perceive your business.
Assume you are starting a new small business to paint people’s houses. You are a very good painter and plan to charge competitive rates. Imagine if you did not return phone calls, turned up to do a quote in dirty clothes and quoted by writing a price on a scrap of paper. The customer does not know if you are a good painter and interprets you as unreliable with poor attention to detail and therefore they don’t trust you to paint their house. Thus marketing is key to present your business the right way.
WHAT are the 4 Ps?
The 4 P’s describe how important it is to present a complete package to entice a customer. You cannot do just one of these and consider it is marketing instead you must do all 4 in some form, all working in harmony to drive the optimum result.
To be successful in business you need a product or service that is needed or wanted by the end-user. You ideally find an opportunity or problem that needs a solution and has a market large enough to sustain providing a product or service. You cannot always design or build your product or service from scratch but you can pick the best product or solution to sell that best meets that need. The better your product or service is compared to competitors as seen by the consumer will give you an advantage.
Many people work on the principle that the cheapest price wins the sale. Whilst this is often the case, it is not always and indeed you can easily under-price a product making people think it is not high enough quality or an uncool purchase. Make sure you do your homework to ensure you price correctly.
Place refers to how you get your product to market. Where is it sold? A retail shop, a direct visit to the customer, or perhaps an eCommerce store. It is important to consider the best place or places to sell to be most successful. It is important to actually have what you sell available and understand the effect of selling in different places can have on one another. Having a product that you want to sell in a supermarket is no good if you can’t supply it or the supermarket will not put it on the shelves. Also, imagine what the supermarket would say if they found you selling the same item cheaper on your eCommerce store.
Many confuse promotion or advertising as the only function of marketing. Without the other 3 P’s your likelihood of success is very slim. This starts with how you present your business from your website to business branding, your work vehicle, how you dress, and the way the staff answer the phone. Next is how you create awareness of your business which could be advertising, public relations, social media, and the content (words) you create to reinforce this. Last is understanding if the promotion you are doing is working and looking for ways to improve it.
HOW do I create a marketing plan?
A marketing plan is a systematic approach to work through developing products and services to fulfil customers’ needs.
A marketing plan should include the following elements:
- Business Summary – Apart from an overview of your business the most important aspect of this section is to do a SWOT. See our full guide on developing a SWOT. In summary, SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. It is an excellent method to analyse your competitive position and get a clear roadmap of how to help you get to your marketing destination.
- Marketing Objectives – This is a clear list of marketing objectives (not business objectives) that outline the strategic steps you will need to follow to reach the goal you hope to achieve.
- Target Audience or market – Ideally, you will have the aid of some sort of research that will help you define the industry you are selling to. An analysis of your competitors, and a description of your ideal customer. Age, location, income, or interests can segment the customer.
- Market Strategy – It is now time to take what we have collected in the first 3 points including the SWOT, objectives, and target market and using the 4 P’s we discussed above to build out the practical plan.
- Budget – This is not only your plan about how much money you will spend but also how many resources you will allocate to making it happen. Your most important resource may actually be people’s time. Could marketing effort help you sell more than having that same person just concentrate on sales?
- Marketing Levers – Last but not least, you know what you want to do and how much money you have, but with all the possible marketing levels you can pull which one will get you the best result. Marketing levers here refers to what marketing channels you select. Some of the more common include:
- Traditional Advertising
- Public relations
- Social media
- Digital Advertising
- Display ads
- Organic assets. Includes your website or word of mouth
- Philanthropic – giving back to the community
- Direct mail
A comprehensive template from the Australian government can be downloaded here https://www.business.gov.au/Planning/Business-plans/How-to-write-your-marketing-plan
Use as much customer feedback as you can to improve your offer to them.
Set clear objectives around what you want to achieve and how you can achieve them.
Be realistic around how much you can afford to spend on marketing and how many people are in your potential audience.
A mentor or coach may be of value here especially if you have no marketing experience.
A marketing consultant or agency for a fee can provide marketing services to you.
SUMMARY – Marketing to sell more
Marketing is about looking at how a business presents itself and working out how it can improve on that to gain additional sales. The process involves understanding an opportunity, finding a solution, understanding competitors, identifying your market and finally realising your marketing plan.