Let’s face it. As a small business owner, you have limited time and money to allocate to marketing. However, getting more customers and growing your business is your constant worry. In this article, I will show you some basics of marketing that will immediately help you to increase your profits. You need to base your marketing plan on growth. There are two types of growth plans:
Organic growth – by getting more customers, by expanding markets or by adding more products
Inorganic growth – by acquiring other companies and growing your reach
Organic or inorganic growth?
As a small business owner, you can design your business strategy and marketing plan to help you achieve organic growth by:
Getting more customers
Selling more to existing customers (upselling and cross-selling)
Selling more types of products
Using a combination of the above three strategies
My clients often ask me – whether I should focus more on getting new customers or serving the existing customers better. That’s a tough choice. If you have time and money, you should pursue both strategies.
But if you are short on resources, focus on existing customers. This is for two reasons:
First, your existing customers already know you and are more likely to buy from you. A known Devil Is Better Than Unknown God. Second, working on existing customers will improve your customer relations, create more satisfied customers, build your goodwill. This will, in turn, bring more new customers to you through word-of-mouth publicity. Also, it is cheaper to persuade an existing customer than a new customer.
Finding new customers
There are ways to attracting new customers on a limited marketing budget. First, do your homework and prepare a marketing plan. The easiest way to reach new customers is look on the periphery of the existing customers. Review the type of existing customers you have. You can use this knowledge to reach out to new customers. Find out what else you can sell with your existing customers that complements your products. For example, if you sell electric appliances, you can sell warranty with it.
Review your pricing against similar products (apple juice vs orange juice), or substitute products (tea vs coffee). See if you can revise your pricing either upwards or downwards.
Mass marketing or niche marketing
You can’t afford mass marketing in a small business. You need to focus on niche marketing. Because you are running your business on limited budget, it is very important that you define your target market well. Your limited budget should be spent on the right prospects. Do some market research to find out more about your customers. Find out where they hang out. Then focus your marketing resources in those areas where you are mostly likely to find your customers.
Quick ideas for limited budget
It doesn’t matter whether you are a professional, small business owner or not-for-profit organisation, there are innovative ways to business marketing. Here are some creative ideas that can help your marketing dollar go over a longer distance and give you high marketing ROI:
Introduce yourself to media. Send out a media release that’s relevant to your business.
Give discount coupons to customers at every sale. Hook them in to come back for more.
Get referrals from existing customers.
Pool in with your suppliers and jointly buy advertising space in local newspaper
Attend an industry event, trade fair. I have personally marketed my business very well at cultural festivals and trade fairs.
Write an article for a local newspaper. For example, if you are a florist, write an article about different floral arrangements, just before the Valentine’s Day
Organise an event where you offer networking opportunity to your customers
Enter an industry award. It provides a lot of free or cheap publicity
Offer prizes to be given away on a local community radio. Believe me, radio stations love such free giveaways. Listeners get free stuff. You get free publicity.
Ready to launch your marketing campaign?
Great. Now that you are all excited and charged up to begin your marketing campaign, I will leave you with the last but more important tip.
This is one thing that I caution all my clients. Make sure you measure your marketing efforts. For example, if you are advertising in a local newspaper, include a coupon that they can redeem to get discount. This way, you will know how many customers you earned from that advertising campaign.