6 Smart Marketing Strategies for Small Businesses
Of all the challenges associated with running a successful small business, one of the most difficult demands lies in the development and implementation of marketing strategies that can be shown to actually increase sales and revenue. And with the downward economy forcing more and more businesses to trim their budgets, the ability to effectively manage marketing dollars can mean the difference between failure and success. Here are six smart marketing strategies for small businesses which, if implemented properly, should lead to a healthier bottom line.
1. Hone in on Your Target Market:
No business can effectively sell a product or service to a market not clearly defined. Since marketing is the effective delivery of information to a targeted market in a way that will cause those within that market to want your product or service, the ability to effectively identify and reach that market is crucial. If your main demographic is tech savvy and turns to online sources for information, you will need to establish an effective web presence to reach them, with an interactive site that incorporates the tech tools that they use to converse, namely Facebook, and Twitter. Unfortunately for many companies, pouring money into such offline strategies as newspaper and radio ads, or direct mailings to attempt to reach an online demographic -- although totally ineffective -- is still a common practice because it is inexpensive and has the feel of real advertising. The irony is that even if one of these strategies did lead someone to your website, they would quickly flee from a company that uses such antiquated methods to drum up business.
2. Analyze, Then Strategize:
Before throwing more money into new marketing strategies it's critical to make sure that the current ones are hitting their targets as cost-effectively as possible. Only by conducting a thorough unbiased analysis of existing marketing strategies can those that are under performing be identified and cut from the marketing budget. The analysis needs to be as impartial as possible to eliminate the urge to continually tweaking those tried and true strategies that may have had their place in the past but are now just plain outmoded.
3. Contemplation Before Reallocation:
Being that the end result of the marketing analysis will be the freeing up of funds to be reapportioned within the marketing budget, two clear choices remain, namely, is it best to put the majority of those funds back into the marketing strategies that survived fiscal scrutiny for now, but may not stand the test of an ever changing economic climate? Or is it better to allocate at least some of the budget to the newer, more forward thinking strategies that come with learning curves and may present a formidable risk in terms of achieving long-term success?
4. Be Online and Offline Minded:
There's no denying that many strong and stubborn brick-bound businesses came from a long line of hard working ancestors whose blood, sweat, and tears provided just the right amount of magic in the mortar. But as endearing as those methods may have been, they just can't keep up with the modern means by which businesses launch and promote their products and services. Clearly, along with solid budget strategies, some budgetary attention must be given so that these more effective means for marketing products in this day and age can be pursued. In other words, it's time to be honest as to whether the Yellow Page Ads, the monthly mailers, and the bright shiny billboards are hitting their target markets or feeding an antiquated notion that because they look like advertisements and act like advertisements, then they must be advertisements, and are therefore effective.
5. Adopt New Technological Strategies:
Regardless of how well you feel your current strategies are doing, be aware that continued success in taking on the competition will only come from embracing new technologies. The advantage of these new technologies like SEO, Social Media, and Pay-Per-Click is that the companies that provide these services also provide sophisticated tracking packages to give you a detailed, quantifiable analysis of just how effective their strategies are in actually bringing you new business -- something that the more outmoded advertising methods could only guess at via the statistical analysis of inadequate population samples. Using these high tech tracking methods, companies can tell you how many people landed on your website, clicked the magic button and converted into actual buyers of your product or service.
6. Give New Strategies Time to Work or Fail:
When implementing a new marketing strategy-- unless it's Pay-Per-Click, which gives you quantifiable results right away, it's best to allow at least 90 days to fully ascertain the effectiveness or failure of a given strategy. During this 90 day period, data driven adjustments can be made to make sure that the marketing strategy being implemented has the best chance to be as cost-effective as possible.
About the Author: Carla Sanchez is a freelance writer for Omniture. Omniture is the world leader at target marketing and website tracking. Software that enables you to better understand your customers and increase your sales.
Photo credit: artbystevejohnson