Marketing Your Small Business to the Best Effect at an Affordable Cost

Marketing becomes effective when you are able to create a desire to buy your product or service in the mind of your prospective customer. How to create such a desire is the question that every marketer has to answer. And answering that question requires a number of steps.The first step is to know the prospect well. The marketer gets to know the situation and habits of the prospect. Next the marketer seeks to understand what factors affect the buying decision of the prospect.By knowing the customer and that person’s habits, you know which media to use to get your sales message to that person. For example, if the person watches TV programs during a particular time, ads can be displayed in programs broadcast during that time. If the marketer knows which particular TV programs are popular among his particular customer group, the task of reaching the group becomes even easier and less expensive.Local small businesses have an advantage in that they are likely to be quite familiar with their prospective customers.Selecting the Media for Getting Your Sales MessageThe second step is selecting a media to deliver your sales message.TV is not the only media, and is typically not even the best media to reach your customer. TV ads are expensive, and the TV ad scene is overcrowded. After spending all the money, your message might not reach the customer effectively.The media available to a marketer are numerous, ranging from door delivered mails and flyers, human billboards, ads on moving vehicles through press and broadcast ads to exhibition venues and sports stadiums. Just observe all the different advertisements that you come across.Try to answer the following questions about each ad you see. Where are these displayed? Who are the prospective customers for the advertised product? Are they likely to see and understand the ad? Soon, you will begin to gain insights into the media selection issue.The Sales MessageDeveloping an effective sales message that will create desire for your product or service is the third step.To create a desire-creating sales message, you need to know the decision-making process of the prospective customer. You should gather the information needed for this purpose in the first step, getting to know the customer.How does your prospective customer decide to buy the kind of product or service that you offer? For example, does the person see it simply as a commodity that can be bought at any outlet selling that type of product? Or does the person look for a particular brand? What makes the person choose that particular brand? Can the brand loyalty be overcome by making your offer available more conveniently, say at an outlet nearer the customer?The above are just a sampling of the questions you need to ask about the decision-making process of your prospect. The nature of the product, its value and other factors will determine the specific questions you have to answer. Knowing your product and your customer, you should be able to identify what questions need to be answered.Once you have a clear idea about the decision-affecting factors, start developing your sales message. Try to come up with a basic message that will effectively influence the person’s decision in your favor. For example, if patriotic feelings influence the buying decision, emphasize that your product is made locally.You might have to go quite deep to identify the most important influence that determines the customer’s buying decision. Work at it and even test it before you finalize your sales message.Once the basic message is finalized, the task of writing effective sales copy becomes the critical issue. Sales messages need to be structured and presented in a certain way to be most effective. Just throwing your basic sales message any which way at the prospect is not likely to make that person even notice it.Sales copy writing is a skilled task and you should approach a professional with proven effectiveness, preferably someone with experience in your particular industry, to do it. Give that person a clear idea of what you have found about your customer – the media that will reach the person and that person’s decision making process.With these inputs, a competent sales copy writer should be able to come up with just the right kind of sales message.Other Marketing TacticsSo far, the assumption was that you would conduct your marketing campaign through sales messages displayed through selected media. This is not the only marketing tactic, and might not even be the most suitable tactic for your offer.Whatever tactic you adopt, the basic elements must be present, viz.
You have to get to the attention of your prospective customer group
You have to deliver a sales message that influences prospective customer in your favor
You have to make your offer available at a point that is convenient to the customersSome common marketing tactics are:
Achieve publicity for your business through every document that goes out. Imprint your logo, business/product name and a slogan on envelopes, invoices, shipping notes and other documents, as well as your letterheads and other stationery.
Use press releases, talk shows, community participation and such avenues for publicity. These will generally cost little money.
Make special offers of different kinds that are likely to motivate buyers and publicize these effectively
Set up business in an area where there are similar businesses and plenty of existing customer traffic, some of whom might decide to try you out
Take pains to provide a great customer experience so that word-of-mouth publicity gets around and you get more customersBy observing how your competitors promote their offers, you will come across the most suitable promotional ideas.Track all Marketing CampaignsTracking the results of marketing campaigns is something you cannot avoid. This can be a tiresome task, not as exciting as conducting a glittering campaign. However, if you overlook this task, you could be wasting money on campaigns that merely drain money. Even the best planned campaigns can fail to deliver results owing to some reason or other that you might not have anticipated.Conduct your campaigns in a way that allows such tracking possible. For example, don’t conduct multiple major campaigns at the same time as you might then not be able to find which one of them generated the results. Devices such as coupons can also be used to track particular campaigns.Few business activities are as satisfying as conducting a highly effective marketing campaign. Organize for such a campaign by attending to the key tasks of understanding the customer, developing an effective sales message or tactic and then implementing the campaign on the ground.