Small business marketing can be a challenge, but it doesn’t need to be daunting

With the right planning and strategy, you can market your small business effectively without breaking the bank. Marketing is about much more than placing advertisements; it’s about creating a brand identity and reaching your target audience in an appealing way. You don’t need to have a marketing degree or list of industry contacts to do this successfully — just the willingness to plan, strategize, and implement.

We all know that launching any new venture requires a lot of hard work, but many small business owners overlook the importance of marketing as part of that process. Although it might feel like an added expense at first glance (and it almost certainly will come at an upfront cost), marketing is one of the most important investments you can make in your company from day one.

Start with the end in mind

Marketing is a long-term investment. When you’re first starting out and cash flow may be tight, it’s important to keep in mind that marketing is something that will continue to pay dividends long after your initial investment has been spent. You don’t need to overhaul your entire marketing strategy if things shift or your business grows (or shrinks) in size — but you do need to be strategic about your efforts and intentional about your brand.

Marketing is about more than promoting a product — it’s about creating an identity for a company, a brand, and a product. So before you put any money into marketing, it’s important to ask yourself some key questions. What is your company mission? What do you want your company to stand for? What do you want your customers to feel when they interact with your brand?

Know who your target audience is

The first step to marketing your small business is knowing who your audience is. Once you know who you want to reach, you can strategize how to reach them. Start by breaking down your potential customers into segments. This can be based on demographic, psychographic, or any other type of segmentation that makes sense for your business, but it’s important to get specific here.

If you’re selling dresses, a general “women” audience will likely be too broad to be effective. Instead, you might break down your potential customers into segments like “fashionistas,” “mothers,” “aspiring entrepreneurs,” etc. Once you have your segments defined, you can focus your marketing efforts on the niche that will most likely help you meet your business goals.

Create a marketing plan

With your customer segments defined, it’s time to create a marketing plan. A marketing plan outlines your goals and how you plan to meet them, and can range from a simple checklist to a detailed marketing calendar. It’s important to set specific goals for your marketing efforts that are both measurable and attainable. For example, “increase website traffic” may be a good goal, but it’s not something that you can specifically measure.

Instead, you might set a goal of growing your email subscriber list by 10 percent each month. A marketing plan should also outline how you plan to achieve your goals. You may want to consider creating a marketing budget to help you stay organized. You don’t need to break the bank when first starting out, but having a budget can help you stay focused on what activities give you the most ROI.

Build a brand that resonates

Branding is essential to marketing. It’s the way that customers will identify with your company, and it’s how they’ll choose to do business with you. You can have the most amazing products or services, but if your branding doesn’t resonate with your audience, they likely won’t see the value.

When it comes to branding, less is more. You want to be memorable and catchy, but you don’t want to be too complex or confusing. Consider the colors and images that you use in your branding efforts, and use them consistently. This will help your customers identify your brand more easily and make it easier for them to remember your company.

Don’t skimp on ads — smart advertising matters

Advertising can seem daunting when you’re first starting out, but it’s essential to reaching your audience. Whether you’re investing in social media, radio ads, traditional print ads, or some other form of paid advertising, it’s important not to skimp on quality. Your ads should be designed to engage your audience and convey who you are as a brand. If this is not something you feel you can maximize on your own, you may want to consider hiring a marketing agency such as ParkWest Solutions to help you with ad budget, placement, and ultimately, results.

Of course, you also want to make sure you’re investing in the right types of ads. If you know your audience is mostly located in a particular region, radio ads may be your best bet. If you know your audience is mostly comprised of people under 35, social media ads may be more effective. Demographic is important; it's important to conduct research on who your products and services are really catered to.

Try digital marketing first

While traditional marketing is important, it’s also important to think outside the box when it comes to reaching your audience. One of the best ways to do this is with digital marketing. Digital marketing includes everything from blogging and social media to email marketing and paid search engine ads. These channels have become essential to modern marketing efforts thanks to the ability to precisely target specific audiences with personalized content.

That doesn’t mean that you can ignore traditional forms of marketing — but it does mean that you can prioritize digital marketing in the early days of your business to reach your audience more effectively. You may want to consider hiring a marketing agency such as ParkWest Solutions to help you strategize the best digital marketing strategy and get you off the ground.

Establish partnerships and collaborate

Another great way to reach your audience is to collaborate with other brands. This can be an excellent way to build relationships with other businesses and reach new audiences. For example, if you have a food truck, partnering with a restaurant that shares your target audience can be a great way to reach new customers.

If you have a firm, you can also look into partnering with other businesses in your industry to share advice and insights. You can also consider joining marketing groups or organizations like the Small Business Association to network with other small business owners and learn from other businesses.

Marketing should be taken into consideration from the start

Marketing is essential to the success of any business, but it shouldn’t be the first thing you think about when you launch your company. Instead, it should be part of your company plan from the very beginning. Create a marketing plan early on, and outline how and when you plan to invest in marketing. This will help you understand the costs involved, and will also give you a timeline to follow so you don’t get caught up in the buzz of launching your business and forget about marketing completely.

You can also use your marketing efforts to gauge interest in your company and your products. This can be helpful in determining the best way to move forward with your business, and can help you avoid overspending on your marketing efforts until you know what is necessary for success. Whether you're a new business that's just starting out, or an established company that needs some marketing guidance, ParkWest Solutions may be a good fit. Reach out to us at [phone] or send us a message either on our Contact form or email at [email].