Small Business Marketing

The term market refers to the aggregate of all demand for a particular product or service arising from the aggregate of all consumers – both existing and potential for the product. Markets vary widely from one another since the consumers who constitute the markets vary widely in their characteristics. Even a specific market for a given product is not totally homogeneous.

In small business marketing, a market is split up into several smaller units, each with homogeneous characteristics; it facilitates the effective tapping of the market. Market segmentation is the process of disaggregating the total market for a given product into a number of sub-markets. The heterogeneous market is broken up in the process into a number of relatively homogeneous units.

The process is based on the recognition that any given market or consumer group is made up of a number of subgroups distinguished by varying needs and buying behavior. Also, it is feasible to disaggregate the consumers into suitable segments in such a manner that the characteristics of the segmented groups would vary significantly among segments but would also be identical within segments.

Market segmentation confers several benefits on the marketing man. In the first place, it helps him distinguish one customer group from another within a given market and thereby enables him to decide which segment of the market should form his target market. It also enables the effective crystallization of the specific needs of the buyers in the target market and facilitates an in-depth study of the characteristics of the buyers.

When the buyers are approached after careful segmentation, responses that are predictable would be forthcoming from them. This would help the marketing person develop his marketing program on a predictable and reliable basis. When the needs and characteristics of the customer group have been brought into a clearer focus, marketing offers that are most suited to the particular customer group can be easily developed.

The Advantages of Outsourcing Business Solutions

Outsourcing business solutions allows businesses to maintain a competitive edge while saving on costs. There are certain functions, like IT and web design, that are necessary but may not fall under a business’s core competencies. Maintaining in-house teams can be costly in terms of office space, equipment and training. Some businesses may not have the resources to spend on them.

By outsourcing their solutions, businesses can leverage the expertise of a provider at a fraction of the cost of maintaining in-house services. There are distinct advantages to outsourcing, including:

Cost-effective communication. Businesses can boost staff productivity with professional email and collaboration tools. These solutions require their own servers, however, and need to be maintained by a dedicated IT team. By outsourcing the IT solution, businesses can save on the cost and hassle of server maintenance while enjoying 24/7 support.

Professional Web design. Businesses may not have the time or expertise to design their own website. Through a provider, they can have a professionally designed corporate website built according to their budget and specifications.

Enhanced online visibility. It takes IT expertise to enhance a website’s visibility so the target audience can find it. By leveraging search engine optimization and pay-per-click advertising services, businesses can reach their target audience without having to deal with complicated IT processes.

Easy setup of applications. Web applications let businesses manage online content efficiently and enhance customers’ experience. With a managed solution, businesses can easily add applications and upgrades without having to install anything on their own computers.

By outsourcing business solutions, companies can offload complicated processes to an experienced provider while streamlining their own resources towards their core business.

7 Costly Small Business Marketing Mistakes to Avoid

Everybody makes mistakes and entrepreneurs are no exception. But for an entrepreneur with a limited budget, committing mistakes too often can be very costly. It is an open secret in the business world that most of the mistakes that can be committed in business have been committed; so why not just learn from them, saving you the agony of committing them yourself.

With that said, here are 7 costly small business marketing mistakes every entrepreneur must avoid:

1. An Incongruent Marketing Message

To effectively sell your product or service, your customer has to “get” the marketing message. A customer-centric marketing message educates your prospects and persuades them to become customers. Too many small businesses make the mistake of focusing their message on the product or company, instead of how the prospect would benefit by purchasing their product. Prepare the right marketing message with some of these in mind:

o Identify the prospect’s problem.

o Explain to the prospect why the problem should be solved immediately and explain why your product or service is the right solution to their problems.

o List the benefits your prospects would enjoy upon purchasing your product and provide an unconditional guarantee to allay any fears they may have.

2. “Spray-and-Pray” Marketing Instead Of Precision Marketing

The days of marketing as a zero-sum game are over. You must demand accountability from your marketing efforts, expecting tangible results in the form of a healthy ROI (return on investment). Differentiate your marketing messages and target them to meet the specific needs and wants of your prospects and customers.

Many small businesses are guilty of the dreaded “spray-and-pray” marketing ideology, which inevitably drains their resources to the point where it very often leads to their demise.

Do not commit this same mistake, but instead practice precision marketing, where every aspect of your marketing and advertising efforts are measured and tracked for maximum returns.

3. Failing To Realize Marketing Is About Value Creation

To create a sustainable small business, you have to market something of value to the prospect and customer. Marketing is your business and creating value for your customers should permeate through all your marketing efforts. Strive to always over-deliver because customers love to receive more than they expect and the easiest way to do so is to develop a thorough understanding of their wants and desires.

4. Selling Instead Of Educating

You must have heard about the age-old principle that “people love to buy but hate being sold to.” It is a principle that will continue to hold true for ages to come, but unfortunately, many small businesses still fail to adhere to it. The fastest way to get rid of a prospect is to try forcing a sale out of him or her.

Education-based marketing, however, is a powerful marketing strategy to overcome this problem of being sold to. This strategy makes use of giving away valuable information, educating your prospect about the benefits of owning your product or using your service, offered to them as free reports, video cassettes, CDs, or DVDs in exchange for their contact information.

It is a strategy that builds trust with the prospects resulting in a much higher closing ratio. So, forget about throwing a sales pitch and try educating your prospects instead for a higher conversion rate.

5. Failing To Test

The biggest mistake any entrepreneur can make with their business is the failure to test every possible variable most important to their customers. This applies to both online and offline marketing efforts.

I can understand if small businesses faced more difficulty with market testing because of limited budgets years ago, but the Internet has done away with this excuse. It has become so cheap to conduct price tests and sales copy tests and identify what campaigns, keywords, and metrics give you the best ROI online that not testing any of these has become a cardinal sin.

6. Not Following Up With Prospects Or Customers

Small businesses spend a great sum of money acquiring customers, which makes it all the more difficult to understand why many of them don’t follow up with their customers, or even their prospects after the “front end” sale.

It has been well documented that true riches are to be found in the backend sales and the reason for this is simple. If a customer or prospect raises his or her hand to do business with you, it means an element of trust has been established and a business relationship is ready to be formed. They are more then likely to buy from you repeatedly if you make it a point to capture their contact information and develop a follow-up system for communicating with them frequently.

7. Selling To The Wrong Target Market

Never assume that your product or service will appeal to a general audience because this assumption has profoundly resulted in many small businesses shutting up shop. Large businesses are guilty of this too, but you can save yourself from committing such a rash mistake by asking yourself these two questions:

o Who are your customers, or who is your target market?

o Who will use your service, or who will buy your product?

Answer these questions with absolutely clarity and segment these markets by demographics and psychographics to zero in on your ideal customer. The time spent doing this correctly will add nicely to your bottom line.

Just remember that to succeed, you must be prepared to fail, so don’t fear the eventual mistake but learn from it.

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