Marketing is all about satisfying customer needs
The following represents a comprehensive list of marketing ideas; use it to help better understand customer needs and ways to satisfy those needs.
General Thoughts Concerning Small Business Marketing Plans
- Never let a day pass without engaging in at least one marketing activity.
- Determine a percentage of gross income to spend annually on marketing.
- Set specific marketing goals every year; review and adjust quarterly.
- Maintain a tickler file of ideas for later use.
- Carry business cards with you —all day, every day. (Keep extra cards in your car.)
- Create a personal name tag or pin with your company name and logo on it and wear it at high visibility meetings. (These can be ordered from any office supply store)
Target Market Research
We’ve discussed Target Marketing in previous blogs. Here are a few more small business marketing research suggestions.
- Stay alert to trends that might impact your target market, product, or promotion strategy.
- Read market research studies about your profession, industry, product, and target market groups, etc.
- Collect competitors’ ads and literature; study them for information about strategy, product features, benefits, etc.
- Ask clients why they hired you and solicit suggestions for improvement.
- Ask former clients why they left you.
- Identify a new market.
- Join a list-serve (eMail list) related to your profession.
- Subscribe to an Internet newsgroup or a list-serve that serves your target market.
Product or new services development should be driven by your market research. Customer-centric product development is the holy grail of marketing. (A good, rich and successful model is Steve Jobs and Apple product development – IPOD(s)/ ITUNES/IPHONE)
- Create a new service, technique, or product.
- Offer a simpler/cheaper/smaller version of your (or existing) product or service.
- Offer a fancier/more expensive/faster/bigger version of your (or existing) product or service.
- Update your services.
Education, Resources, and Information
- Establish a marketing and public relations advisory and referral team composed of your colleagues and/or neighboring business owners (Mastermind); share ideas and referrals and discuss community issues.
- Meet quarterly for breakfast.
- Create a suggestion box for employees. (If you are a company of one, you still need a suggestion box. Once a week change hats, and read what insights ‘employee-you’ has to offer ‘employer-you’
- Attend marketing seminars.
- Read marketing books.
- Subscribe to marketing newsletters or other publications.
- Subscribe to a marketing list-serve on the Internet.
- Subscribe to marketing Usenet newsgroup on the Internet.
- Train your staff, clients, and colleagues to promote referrals.
- Hold a monthly marketing meeting with employees or associates to discuss strategy and status and solicit marketing ideas.
- Join an association or organization related to your profession.
- Get a marketing intern to take you on as a client; it will give the intern experience and you some free marketing help.
- Maintain a consultant card file (database) for finding designers, writers, and other marketing professionals.
- As soon as budgets available hire a marketing consultant (mentor) to brainstorm with.
- During vacations or business trips take some time for a creative journey around the city or county to observe and learn from marketing techniques used there.
As a retired SBDC counselor, I know where to find business-related information — both online and IRL. In this case some of my marketing source is a SBA publication (National Women’s Business Center, Washington, D.C., 4/97). The balance is just years of experience. For individual business support with any aspect of your business contact the nearest SBA-sponsored Small Business Development Center.