All businesses, not just small ones, are faced with the challenge of making their marketing dollars stretch as far as possible. The issue for many is deciding what to spend their time and money on.
There are many aspects to marketing – not just advertising. Branding, customer service and internal communication are all in addition to the basic 4 P’s of marketing (product, price, promotion, place).
Of course you don’t just have to consider your physical presence, but your online one too. How easy are you to find? Can your customers find what they’re looking for on your website? Can they transact with you easily online? What are your service levels like online? How quickly can and will you respond to enquiries?
With all these aspects to consider the most important place to start is with a marketing plan!
Even if you can’t afford to spend a lot of money it’s crucial to understand your business goals or targets – as your bank manager will be interested in these. Then you need to figure out exactly how you’re going to reach your targets, whether it’s about selling x number of coffees per day or having a certain number of customers through the door – you need to plan how to drive customers to your business.
The way you do this (or your strategy) for attracting customers all boils down to offering them a product or service that they want that is better than they can get elsewhere. Once they transact with you, it’s then about providing great products and service so they’ll keep coming back. And of course you also want to encourage them to tell their friends – as word of mouth recommendations are the most effective way of generating new business.
All of these things are straight forward, but often businesses find them hard to get right – that’s because many business owners are sometimes too focused on one aspect and haven’t put enough thought into the ‘whole’ equation. Generally it’s not through lack of commitment, but more a lack of time or energy to be able to step back from the business and view it with objectivity.
Think of your marketing planning as baking the perfect cake. Not only do you have to have all the right ingredients, you need to have a recipe to ensure success!