As a small business you can never compete with the marketing muscle that’s used by big firms.
The amount the average large company spends on advertising each year is probably more than your small business will bring in over the next 100 years. But you can still put together a marketing strategy that will help you to stand out from the crowd. A relatively small amount of work on your part can yield great results. It’s largely a question of doing your homework.
Here are five tips to help you develop a sharp message on a tight budget:
1. Set your objectives
Every good marketing plan needs to have a goal, a desired outcome for your business. The most successful plans will have just one goal. It’s okay to have more than a single objective, but you need to be crystal clear in your mind what is the main purpose for your marketing campaign, otherwise it may quickly become muddled.
When defining your objective start with these questions. Do you want to:
• Create new leads?
• Retain current clients?
• Boost your revenue or profits?
Once you decide your goals for the campaign then you need to define your target audience.
2. Know your target market
Who is going to be interested in what you’re offering. Is there a specific group your product or service appeals to more than others? Could you set yourself apart from the competition by targeting a different audience?
Start by asking yourself a few basic questions:
• Who does my product appeal to?
• Why will they use it?
• How is it different to what other firms offer?
You need to make sure that your target audience is big enough to sustain your business, or at least justify the expense of your marketing campaign. You should be able to establish that fairly quickly with some basic market research.
Once you’ve established your audience, you need to look around to see who are your main rivals for their attention.
3. Know your competitors
It’s not a sign of weakness to keep looking over your shoulder to see what your rivals are up to. It’s important to know what they do, so you can sharpen up your own act and differentiate your offerings.
Try to focus your mind with these few questions:
• Who are my main competitors?
• What are my main strengths and weaknesses?
• What are their main strengths and weaknesses?
Understanding the competitive landscape will help you work out the best methods for communicating to your target customers..
4. What’s your message?
You want to engage your target audience in an interesting way. It’s important to be original, or your firm will just look like a ‘lite’ version of your bigger competitors – smaller but with less flavor than them. Define what is your Unique Selling Proposition (USP): are you a family firm in a market dominated by large corporations? Are you dedicated to good service when everyone else is focused on price? You can be quirky or you can be heartfelt: this is all we do, we’re good at it and we really believe in it. The best campaigns also give a sense of a company’s personality and its values.
5. What’s your medium?
There’s no point in developing a great marketing campaign if the people you want to reach don’t see it. That’s why how you deliver your message is just as important as what you say. As part of your research into target audiences. spend some time finding out how they live their everyday lives: you’d be wasting your time making social media your main marketing channel if your selected audience don’t use Facebook or Twitter.
If you still feel not certain about the path forward, you could ask a local marketing agency for help. If you can’t afford to pay them why not try to barter with them: you could give them a few hours of free IT support, accounting advice or whatever else you’re able to offer, in return for their advice.