What are your thoughts about your future employment in 2021 and beyond? The COVID-19 pandemic is still very much part of our every day lives and it has continued to cause most business owners and managers to wonder what marketing approach they should now take because of this crisis, especially with the likelihood that many stores will probably be closed for least for the next six weeks. I know that many businesses are afraid they will not survive the current situation, which is also the case across other countries in Europe.
Many of these entrepreneurs and managers know the difficulty in starting or growing a small business and eventually getting into an area of profitability. This situation feels genuine, like starting a new business because of the uncertainly everyone is experiencing.
It is still vital that the business owner needs to observe and understand the significance of using marketing as a priority and the primary tool for achieving those desired results. Many business owners still do not adequately access their business even in the good times to determine where their customers, and hence their revenue is generated.
From a business standpoint, we know that Marketing refers to any action or tool used to promote or sell goods or services. It involves the process of using persuasive communication to teach the public and providing detailed information about a specific product or service and why they should choose those promoted products or services over those of other competitors that appear similar in the market. Do you have a budget to market your business, the average amount suggested should be around 10 per cent of your turnover, or do you consider it a waste of time and money? To develop a sustainable and profitable business has not changed by the current situation. We still need to use the tools available to contact our established and potential customer base.
Importance of Marketing Your Small Business
For a small business to flourish and grow in a real and competitive economy, it must undertake marketing as its initial management process to identify the target customers, anticipate their desired demands, and go further by striving to satisfy all the customer requirements. This process attracts more customers while retaining existing consumers. At this time, many business owners will wonder “how does this help“? This information is essential to develop a marketing strategy for business growth and future sustenance, often feeling at a loss of what to do. The one part of this situation is that you have time to think and implement new ideas. Even in the current pandemic if your business is still generating cash-flow, you should continue promoting your business and taking advantage of the lower advertising costs available now. Marketing is an essential tool for the following reasons.
But what about those new ideas: –
- Look around your local business community to look at ways they have adapted.
- Use Google to search for other areas in the UK and Europe to see how similar businesses have generated extra income.
- Start to use your time to develop ways you can improve your sales. I tend to start with brainstorming techniques using your team’s skills and knowledge; if a tiny business, your family and friends, use Zoom to communicate with others outside your household.
- Mind mapping is also a useful technique to help generate new ideas. You can use a sheet of paper and pens to develop your ideas; I prefer because of my lack of artistic skills to use a free mind mapping software Gitmind.com, they have a range of templates to start you on the process.
These suggestions may help you in the current situation; we know that things will change hopefully within the next months. Your business needs to respond to any changes and ensure you are effectively marketing your business for the future. The steps below will give you food for thought.
Effective marketing elevates high consumer expectations of a product or service. This drive eventually attracts the consumers creating an outcome of a correlation between product performance and customer satisfaction. If the two matches, the customer is satisfied. During this crisis, companies, both large and small, have shown a different resolve to develop their customer relationships. Those that have demonstrated a positive approach to helping their customer base will benefit in the longer term.
Marketing Your Small Business Brand Recognition
The micro-business may not believe that Brand Image has any large part to play in their success. For example, the sole trader electrician may consider they do not need to market their business; the question is, where do you get your customers? Are you recognized as an expert in the local community, or are you continually needing to find new customers? Developing a Customer Journey map can help you produce the best marketing approach for your small company to build and enhance its brand image. What is the customer journey map? A customer journey map is a visual representation of every experience your customers have with you.
Is this just for the multi-national companies to do as part of their research and because they spend large sums on marketing, and this is part of the marketing process. As a small business, you can use some same techniques to understand your customers’ journey.
It would help if you had coloured pens and a sheet of Flip Chart Paper.
- Set clear objectives for the customer journey plan.
- Profile your customers and define their goals. (a questionnaire to your customers can give useful information)
- Highlight your target customer types. (you will have many customer types)
- List out all the touchpoints. (only use one customer type per sheet. Mapping the customer journey will give you all the points they interact with your business, directly, advertising, website, and social media interaction)
- Identify the elements you want your map to show.
- Determine the resources you have and the ones you will need.
- Take the customer journey yourself.
- Make the necessary changes.
This process can take some time to complete, but the reward is worth it because you have a better understanding of your customers, which will achieve higher performance with increased sales, and boosted profits.
Some small businesses have made good use of their Brand to move into other business niches; one example in my local area is a highly regarded Fruit and Vegetable business who would usually supply restaurants and hotels. In this pandemic, they have expanded their retail operation to private homes within a wide geographical area. They developed a shopping website and used this to assist other small businesses, such as bakeries, coffee suppliers to use their website under their recognized Brand. Therefore, the brand image improves in the minds of customers, employees, and the owners, thereby constructing a lasting client-base and making a mark in the economy.
Healthy Competitive Advantage
By using effective marketing and decision-making by business owners, the business faces smooth and healthy competition by coming up with creative promotional schemes that involve innovative designs and models and other effective customer relationship techniques. You see this with coffee shops offering free drinks when you have collected the required voucher numbers. It is about looking for ways to enhance your business in the community.
Effective marketing will improve the performance of the business, thereby facilitating its growth. It helps a firm expand from a local economy to a broader region or market. With steady growth, the company undertakes rapid market penetration, Product or service development, and healthy market development.
Marketing enables a business to develop brand loyalty which involves repeat purchases from satisfied customers, and further recommendations from existing customers to family and friends or other dissatisfied consumers using other products or services.
Marketing helps a small business achieve some of its main objectives of doing business which include
- Increase in profits
- Increase in the market share
- Increased sales
- Improved brand image
- Enhanced brand quality
- Developed brand equity.
Optimum Utilization of Resources
Due to proper and effective marketing, the small business gets a higher demand for its goods or services. From the increase in demand, the firm also achieves an increase in production and distribution processes further allowing it to make optimum use of all its resources for example,
- Manpower Resources, from managerial to employees
- Capital Resources
- Physical Resources such as machinery, equipment, and tools.
With the growth of the micro-company because of marketing activity. Some of the profits should be spent on essential activities that add efficiency and value in the business. These activities include
- Research and development
- Upgrade of Technology including machines and equipment
- Training and development of personnel improving higher efficiency in the organization of the business.
Without strong and effective marketing, it is relatively easy for any small business to fall quickly and disappear or continue its operations in the background. When you become a respected business in the local economy, marketing will increase a business’s overall success and potential.
Effective Small Businesses marketing ideas
Any small business or start-up company can have some of the best products or services at excellent and competitive prices. The same business must still stand out there for people to know about it before any goods or services they offer. Therefore, it is essential to have a strong marketing plan that will create awareness of a particular brand, hence significantly increasing clientele and sales.
Determine Brand Identity
These refer to the visible elements of a particular brand such as colour, logo, and design, to identify a brand. Having a consistent brand identity helps build a positive brand image, bringing in more sales and making the Product more successful.
Before the sale of a product or service, the company first must identify a group of potential customers with which the business will engage. This group must include some specific customers to whom the company will direct its marketing efforts. The target market is essentially one which part of the total demand for goods or services.
Design a Logo
A logo is a critical component of a brand since its visual and memorable. It communicates professionalism, builds trust, gives a company its identity, and creates a strong first impression. It leads the audience to the company. If you want a designer to develop a logo, you can use Fiverr.com with many excellent designers to build your logo. If you have an artistic flare use Canva.com who have a range of templates to use to create your own template
Every small company must adopt a practice of managing the release and spread of information regarding its products or services between itself and the public. Your customers can advertise by simple word of mouth within the community. The small business can release information through any media, including print, broadcast, or Digital media. Managing this process helps spread the news about a product or service in the general market.
Importance of Advertising in The Marketing of a Small Business
Marketing for small business requires extensive advertising and marketing. The two might seem the same but are two separate entities. While marketing has the sole intent of creating a market for the products or services and increasing sales and profitability. Building the company’s or businesses reputation mainly focuses on six significant aspects, also known as the six Ps, which include Product, price, place, people, and the promotional method. On the other hand, while advertising seeks public attention on that specific good or service and goes a long way in marketing a small business.
The following are a few reasons why advertising is of extreme importance to every small business.
- It helps in the introduction of new business to the market, highlighting the products or services.
- It helps a new business to quickly breakthrough and penetrate a new market.
- Advertising helps create awareness of a new business, its products, or services.
- This allows the public and different consumers to differentiate between companies, providing differences in their products and services.
- It helps a small business convince consumers to buy its products or services.
- It helps draw more customers to new business and its products and retaining existing customers.
Marketing Your Small Business Using Social Media
Digital marketing is the fastest growing platform in the world at this present age and time. This innovation in advertising technology has rendered old tactics obsolete. Digital marketing has embraced social media in marketing, creating new opportunities and reaching more diverse markets quicker and effectively. The only lingering questions in the minds of small business owners with the use of social media in marketing their products and services are,
Where will customers listen? What content can effectively engage customers?
Marketing using social media is a way for new and small businesses to interact with customers on a social and personal style. This is achieved mainly through websites, blogs, email marketing using conversion tools, and social media accounts such as Facebook and Twitter.
The relevance of Social Media in Marketing
Social media is where family and friends meet to share stories and catch up on the latest entertainment trends and sometimes get the latest breaking news and events that shape up the world today. Small businesses and brands can get in touch with prospective customers. They may not know anything about them and can instantly engage them in relevant topics concerning their products and services.
Benefits of Social Media Marketing
- Most customers prefer an online experience where they can view products and services using mobile and other digital devices at any time and from anywhere in the world.
- Social media has created a new avenue for new and small businesses to reach many customers cheaper and faster, reducing the budget on the cost of marketing for small businesses.
- Small and new businesses can get customer insights regarding their products and services faster and efficiently since the platform holds a two-way communication methodology.
- Social media helps small businesses attract customers easily using colour and graphics in videos and pictures in their advertisements.
- Online marketing for small businesses and new businesses by opening a Facebook Business Page. Increasing web traffic towards them, thereby marketing and advertising using Facebook advertising and controlling expenditure by the Facebook ads manager, an easy campaign tool for their products and services.
- Facebook has just launched the Facebook Shop, which will allow business page owners to open a shop to sell a range of physical products. There will be fees payable for the use of card payments. Most of the Business Page owners will now have access to the Facebook Shop, do not waste the opportunity to open your Shop; however, ensure this is an extension of your business strategy and not your only marketing outlet,