If the idea of marketing your small business falls somewhere between flossing your teeth and cleaning the toilet, you’re not alone. As entrepreneurial as any small business owner has to be, there’s something about sales and marketing that can be intimidating for even the most ambitious business person.
And while marketing is obviously a “big deal”, many times the marketing of a small business is put on the back burner somewhere after buying a new coffee pot for your office and coming up with some cool business cards.
Yeah, those business cards count as marketing – sort of. But it’s no exaggeration to say that how you go about marketing your business will make or break it, which means that marketing your small business calls for more than just a passing thought.
Research, Research, Research
The best place to start with small business marketing is perhaps the easiest. Research – and lots of it!
You can start by looking into your competition and finding out what they’re doing to get the word out about their business. Pay special attention to those businesses that seem to be industry leaders in your market space.
What are they doing that’s contributing to their success? How are they increasing brand recognition for their business? What are the things that are most appealing about their website, sales collateral, and other advertising?
Take notes as you go. Call the company and ask for literature. Cruise their websites for ideas.
The best part? This part of your marketing plan can be from your desk with a nice cup of coffee from that new coffee maker!
A Little Reality?
It’s easy to get carried away with big ideas for small business marketing. Now more than ever, there are a lot of cool ways to get the word out about your business. From Flash-enabled websites to high-end, professionally designed logos, you could easily spend thousands and thousands of dollars marketing your small business.
But you do want to give it some thought – a lot of it, in fact!
Small business marketing is kind of like shopping for a house. It’s a good idea to identify your budget first so you don’t fall in love with something you can’t afford!
Sit down in the early days of your business and decide how much you can afford to spend marketing your small business. At this stage in the game, it will be difficult to do this too far in advance, so just figure out a budget for the first 3-6 months. Hopefully the small business marketing strategies you choose will be so successful you’ll have even more to spend later.
But for now, let’s just get your business off the ground!
Divide and Conquer
Now that you have a “big picture” number in mind, it’s time to divide it up. You might start with the obvious, like business cards if your business is the kind that needs them, or internet advertising if that is more suited to your type of business.
From there, you can prioritize the things you “have to have” versus the things you’d “like to have”, and make compromises accordingly.
You know that old saying, “The only sure thing in life is that things will continue to change”? Well, it was never truer than for a small business. In the beginning you’ll likely have all kinds of ideas about how things will turn out and about what will work best. But it’s next to impossible to foresee at the outset the future of any small business.
So remember, slow and steady wins the race. Take things a day at a time, review the results from your existing small business marketing measures, and be willing to make adjustments as you go.
With a little luck – and a good small business marketing plan – you’ll have even more money to spend as your business grows!