What does marketing a small business mean?
In plain and simple terms, marketing activities and strategies result in making products available that satisfy customers while making profits for the companies that offer those products. That's it in a nutshell! A small business has to continually market their goods and services to ensure survival.
Marketing produces a "win-win" because:
- Customers have a product that meets their needs, and
- Healthy profits are achieved for the small business. (These profits allow the small business to continue to trade in order to meet the needs of future customers.)
Stated another way: A focus on what the customer wants is essential to successful small business marketing efforts. This customer-orientation must also be balanced with the small business objective of maintaining a profitable volume of sales in order for the small business to continue to develop.
Marketing is a creative, ever-changing orchestration of all the activities needed to accomplish both of these objectives. Small business have limited budgets and need to invest their funding wisely on marketing.
How Are The Customer And Small Business Objectives Met?
The South African’s Marketing Association's definition of marketing is:
the process of planning and executing the conception, pricing, promotion and distribution of ideas, goods, and services to create exchanges that satisfy individual and organisational (small business) objectives.
You see in the above definition that the process of marketing begins with discovering what product customers want to buy. Providing the features and quality customers want is a critical first step in small business marketing. You'll be facing an uphill battle if you provide something you want to produce and then try to convince someone to buy it.
The small business marketing process then continues with setting a price letting potential customers know about your product, and making it available to them.
What activities are included in small business marketing?
Small business marketing activities are numerous and varied because they basically include everything needed to get a product or service off the drawing board and into the hands of the customer.
The field of small business marketing includes activities such as designing the product so it will be desirable to customers (using tools such as marketing research and pricing); promoting the product so people will know about it (using tools such as public relations, advertising, marketing communications); and exchanging it with the customer (through sales & distribution.) Small business needs market focus.
Do not forget the power of internet. If you do not have a website yet, create one. Submit your small business website to directories (especially to local directories in your area). Small business forums also will list your small business services for a nominal fee or sometimes for free.
It is important to note that the field of small business marketing includes sales, but it also includes many functions besides sales. Many people mistakenly think that marketing and sales are the same-they are not.
How does marketing fit into your small business?
Another way to describe marketing activities is to consider the big picture of how they fit in with the other small business functional areas.
Products are created through production efforts.
Capital and operating funds are managed and tracked in the accounting finance area of the small business.
The focus of the human resources area is employees and the policies concerning small business and its staff members.
- Through marketing efforts, decisions are made and strategies are implemented concerning small business strategies on:
- what products (goods, services or ideas) are to be offered
- to whom (the target market), and
- how (how to inform potential customers of the offering, how to make the transaction, etc.) small business policy implementation
Oftentimes, a small business marketing approach relies upon the coordination of several small business areas to be successful. For example,
- The product might need some tweaking by the small business products manager who produces the product to respond to customer complaints.
- The small business human resource manager might be asked to develop compensation plans that reward sales people who build significant relationships that have tremendous potential but are slow to close.
- Special payment plans might need to be implemented by the small business accounting manager to accommodate a variety of customer needs.
As a result, small business marketing usually crosses more departmental boundaries than other small business functions do out of necessity. So, small business marketing requires the orchestration of everyone who plays a part in the common goal of pleasing the customer.
For a small business owner who has no employees, this means that she needs to mentally tear down the walls between varied small business functional sections and think holistically when it comes to small business marketing strategies.
In Summary - These are the fundamentals of a true small business marketing mindset:
- Producing what the customer wants should be the focus of small business operations and planning.
- Creating profitable sales volume, not just sales volume, is a necessary goal to maintain the small business.
- Coordinating between marketing activities and all other functions within a small business that affect marketing efforts.