Marketing for growth
One of the many challenges of owning a business is marketing. Without a successful marketing plan, chances are that your business will stagnate and over time, you will see a decline in sales. When sales begin declining, it may be too late to start a new marketing campaign to revive your business. That means that you must have a plan in place when you begin your business and one that is flexible over time. To determine your best options for marketing you must have some basic knowledge including:
- Your customer base – you need to know who and where your customers are and what attracts them. Age groups, where they live and what draws them to your products.
- How your customers get information – if your base of customers are television watchers, you may need to advertise on television. If they are active on the Internet, you need to pursue online marketing.
- Your budget – needless to say, your budget will play a role in your marketing plans. Whether you plan to market online or offline, you will still need to know how much you are willing to spend in terms of money and time.
What can you spend?
The first determination to make when creating your marketing plan is how much you can spend. However, do not get fooled into thinking this is only what you can spend in terms of money. Remember, your personal time is valuable as well as time does equal money when you are a business owner. This means you may even want to consider outsourcing your marketing efforts to someone who has (a) time and (b) expertise in marketing.
When it is sensible to outsource
If you have the financial resources to outsource your marketing efforts, it may be worth considering. Someone who has a good grasp of online marketing may be hired for far less than what it would cost in terms of time. In fact, if you have to take away from other aspects of your business for marketing purposes, outsourcing may be exactly what you need. Just use some caution when doing this so that you hire a person who will use ethical marketing techniques, someone who understands your products or services and someone who you have a good professional rapport with.
Whether you have a product or service, web marketing can be very effective. There are a number of ways to implement a web based marketing plan including:
- Here at Hubpages – create useful and relevant hubs and highlight your products or services. While you should avoid being overly promotional (and stay within the terms of service) you can establish yourself as an expert in your field.
- Learn about Facebook – create a Facebook page that displays samples of your work if you are providing a service. If you are providing a product, develop a page of images that relate to your products and make that page active. Check into the advertising options that Facebook offers.
- Learn about Twitter – when marketing through Twitter, it is important that you have relevant information to share. This can be done by sharing your hubs, links to your Facebook page and offering “special” deals to followers. Find out what terms people are using to find products or services you are offering and use these keywords as hashtags when you share posts.
- Online press releases – check out some of the free sites that offer press releases. These sites generally allow you to write your own release and submit to their sites. Make sure they are targeting the right geographical areas.
- Find complementary products – find other business owners who are offering products or services that make good “go-withs” to what you offer. Work out an agreement with them to cross advertise their goods and services on your website, blog or Facebook page.
Face to face marketing
For some businesses, face to face marketing works far better than online marketing. Depending on your products or services, you may need a more hands-on approach to your marketing plan. Here are some low-cost ways that you can gain new customers without spending a fortune.
- Flea markets – flea markets do not lend themselves well to a service based business but often do lend themselves well to product based businesses. Set up a table at your local flea markets and offer your products. Make sure that you have plenty of business cards on hand to pass out to people who simply stop by and browse.
- Trade shows – check magazines, newspapers and online publications for local trade shows that may present a good opportunity for you to advertise your company. Oftentimes, these shows are held on weekends and may provide you an opportunity to hand out business cards, network with other small business owners and get your name out in public. While you may not make any immediate sales, this is a good method of gaining publicity for little cost.
- Community groups – regardless of whether you offer products or services, you may find that your community groups offer you opportunities that you might not have considered. For example, if your local community organizations conduct events like pancake breakfasts, you can offer to be a sponsor. For a small amount of money, they will often “broadcast” your name to the attendees. Another option is to see if they sponsor events where the attendees may have a use for your products or services and attend those events. This also provides opportunities for networking.
- Public access television – if your community offers a public access channel, consider working with someone you know and do an interview or do a product display. You may then get free time on the channel to share information with those who may be watching. If you do this, make sure that you publish a press release in your local newspaper.
These are just a few ways that you can explore to promote your business on a shoestring. While some people may need to hire salespeople or buy large blocks of advertising, some business ventures lend themselves well to these lower-cost marketing options.