Marketing is a major driving force for fueling the growth of your business. Many great ideas have not achieved the success they deserve because too few people know about them. You may have a great product or service but if prospective customers don’t know about you, they won’t go looking for you and may never have the opportunity to enjoy the benefits you offer. Equip your business with a solid marketing program, make sure you have covered all the bases, and reap the many rewards available to you.

Remember, marketing is not just a way to quickly start your business or a temporary fix for it. Marketing is an integral part of the continuing success of a business. Competitors enter the market, tastes change, and customers can become restless or lose their loyalty as quickly as they originally developed it. Marketing is the first aspect of your business that requires outside attention and it never ceases to require ongoing attention. Use marketing to keep your business active and never allow yourself to be in a position where you need marketing to revive it.

Marketing should be used daily as a proactive tool to continue building your business and to overcome obstacles.

The following two examples illustrate the important role marketing plays in the success of a business.

Story 1: Smart Thinking Turns A Problem Into An Opportunity

A sign in the window of a convenience store boldly stated ”No Change.” The store had been inundated with people seeking change for the subway or for parking, and the owners felt that it was better to keep them out of their store.

By posting the sign, the owners were effectively driving away new business. If they had taken a more positive approach, they would have seen a great marketing opportunity, not a problem.

If the people seeking change were viewed not as a nuisance but as potential customers, a completely different strategy could have been employed to bring in new business.

What the owners could have done was equip themselves with a supply of change and posted a large sign reading ”Change Available.” It is likely that many of the people who initially came into the store looking for change could have become regular customers over time.

Story 2: Marketing Separates The Old Ways From The New

Tom and Joe are brothers who grew up working in the family business. Tom is conservative and, in his own words, not very creative. He chose to stay with the older, established company and continue in his parents’ footsteps, running the business as his father did for the past forty years.

He had no desire to change anything and felt that if he continued to run the company the way his parents did, he would have a nice lifestyle and hopefully be able to pass the business on to his children. Tom was not a marketing-oriented businessman.

Every year, he followed the same marketing program, conducted seasonal sales, developed the same brochure (substituting a few new products), and worked with the same sales reps his father had employed for many years. Tom felt that if you built a good product, the customers would find you.

Joe, on the other hand, knew that there was more they could do with the business. He wasn`t sure what needed to be done, but he realized that marketing would play a large part in the future success of their business. Joe spent a lot of time out on the road, talking to customers, finding out what competitors were up to, and looking for new opportunities.

Joe often returned from sales trips and trade shows brimming with ideas. He told Tom that they needed to expand their marketing efforts to include new media and a social media program. But Tom insisted that they were doing enough marketing and had no reason to change. Sometimes when a business has been successful, the thought of new activities seems to be an unnecessary expense.

Unfortunately a business owner can wait too long, until the market requirements and competitors catch up to them and it’s then too late.

As time passed, the conflict with Tom became unbearable for Joe. He recognized the opportunities for the family business but knew that his brother would not change. Joe decided to start his own business. He knew that marketing was more than a brochure and the occasional sale. Over the years, he had learned that there are two key components to marketing:

1. Creating and using the various tools available.

2. Managing the marketing program from original strategy and design to the finished marketing materials.

Joe planned to stay in the same kind of business as his family. His first major commitment was to ensure that his business would be marketing-oriented.

He researched opportunities, became familiar with new marketing techniques, and established a long-term relationship with a marketing professional, who helped guide him and establish a team of suppliers to cover traditional, new media and social media marketing. Joes’ strategy included using the best of the established methods and continually testing new marketing methods.

Eventually, Tom’s business stagnated, sales barely kept up with expenses, and profits became a thing of the past. While Tom was suffering, Joe became more successful than even he had dreamed he could be.

Joe hired a marketing consultant. Together, they developed a solid sales and marketing strategy, embraced new technology by establishing a strong database, and conducted ongoing focused communication with staff, suppliers, customers, and prospects. They developed and updated sales tools on an ongoing basis to keep their sales force and customer service staff equipped with the latest in marketing weapons.

In time, Joe absorbed the family business into his own. Tom stayed on but acquired a new appreciation for marketing. Joe continued to manage the marketing efforts and his company grew large enough to create their own internal marketing team. Joe creates the company vision and the entire company carries out that vision.

These cases demonstrate how marketing plays a key role in the success of any small business. Ignoring the advantages that a structured, well thought-out marketing program offers could put your business in jeopardy. Make use of experts, try to benefit from their years of experience and keep up with the newest techniques.