Marketing in a small business



Planning your marketing helps you to create consistency and more effective advertising. A marketing orientation effects your whole organization and provides strategies for growing customer value and profitability.

There are several different approaches to marketing in a small business:

Lacking Resources

The small business often does not have the capital or expertise to be proactive about marketing. In this situation, they are often at the mercy and reactive to the visits from sales personnel of individual mediums. On a rainy Friday afternoon Jill a sales rep from the local radio station will drop by and try to sell you some air time promising a very special deal. And if the price is right you just might just get the check book out. Think of your customers as if they were a good friend of yours as if every time you go to talk to them you start where the last conversation left off. The customer needs to be nurtured and a consistent company image and message say’s hey we care about you, where not trying to make a fast buck.

Marketing is not demand dependent

Then there are the small businesses who decide that marketing is only linked to demand and sales. The slow times are an indication that spending some money on advertising might result in an increase in demand. The newspaper advertisement is sent out with the large task of creating immediate sales. How often it doesn’t work, which only seems to reconfirm the small business owner’s distrust of marketing.

You can afford to work smarter when you are busy

Time and work pressures simply limit activities that are seen as non-essential. When this occurs the business manager is fooled into thinking that because they are busy they are successful and the business is performing well. However, when resources are fully allocated to processing functional aspects of a business to the detriment of others, cracks begin to appear. A business with a marketing orientation acts to satisfy the customer at all levels of its operations. In the case of a small business meeting immediate demand can cause changes in service levels and reallocation of resources away from long term performance generating activities like marketing. This hits home hard when demand decreases, usually loyal customers leave for better service, and the organization re-addresses customer generation strategies.

Treasure customer satisfaction

The most common resistance to using marketing activities we hear is that our company has plenty of customers. Now suppose a competitor enters your market. Wouldn’t your company be in a much better position to defend its share of the market if it had a developed a well known and liked brand?

Perhaps over time you grow away from the needs of the market and begin to lose customers as a result. A marketing orientation would mean that you never lose touch with existing and potential customers.

Have you identified the most profitable customers for your business? Could there be different groups of customers that you are not reaching who would be interested in paying more for your service? Are their products and services that you are yet to identify that could compliment or replace some of your existing products and services. Sometimes small improvements have huge effects on the profitability of a business.

My argument is that customer generating activities should be ongoing in times of increased demand and in times of decreased demand. They may be different in their execution; obviously you may want to reconfirm market awareness and brand values instead of generating immediate action from the marketplace if you are busy.

A marketing orientation

A marketing orientation comes from an understanding that you can influence the marketplace in which you operate. It is within your power to decide how your business will perform in the future. It is your responsibility to serve your customers in the best way possible. It is critical that you understand the moves of your competitors and take action to stake your position. It is good practice to understand your business environment and the changes within it. Most of all it is essential that you paint a picture of your business in the future and plot a course for the realization of this outcome.

An organization without any planning is kicked around the marketplace by customers and competitors. It is at the mercy of the environment and walks blindly into negative trends. It stands for nothing, has no values and identity and exists to serve the selfish needs of its owner.

Many business owners do not want to plan because their ideas and activities are then laid out on the table for critical evaluation. They are afraid that someone may find something wrong with them. They are right, someone may find something wrong and ideas and activities may change as a result of planning. However, this a lot better alternative than taking an idea or business beyond the point of no return and finding you can no longer afford to pay your employees or bills.

It is usually in an extreme situation that we take action. Success comes to those who choose a path of action before the situation decides for them. Take action now.

By Hayden Breese