Marketing for Small Business Owners: How to get started

I’ve written before about the common mistakes small and medium businesses can make when it comes to marketing, and how to use it to help your enterprise stand out from the crowd.

That’s all very well for established companies, but what if you’re a relative newcomer to the business community? Would you have the first idea where to start with your marketing strategy, and how to make sure it will bring customers to your door?

The answers to these and lots of other questions can be found by exploring several key issues, but let’s get started with the most basic question of them all.

What is marketing?

The New York Times described marketing as “the art of telling stories so enthralling that people lose track of their wallets”, or to put it another way, it is the work any business does to promote a product, service or good.

So that’s TV, radio, print, email and online advertising: a very short sentence for a vast and complex ecosystem. Within it, there are two sectors: business to consumer (B2C), and business to business, known as B2B, and that’s what we’ll focus on here.

Creating a successful B2B marketing strategy starts with two things: knowing  what you’re selling and who you’re selling it to. That’s where the work begins and where I can help.

Defining your audience

This is a subject I’ve explored in a previous post but knowing your audience is one of the fundamental pillars of any marketing strategy. First, make a list of your ideal customer’s characteristics to create an audience persona.

Next, ask yourself what makes your business ideally positioned to meet their needs? You can use web analytics, customer surveys and questions posed on social media forums to understand what your ideal customer really wants from you and get to the bottom of three key questions:  

  • What keeps them up at night?
  • What industry information do they search on the web for, and where do they go for that data?
  • What kinds of problems are they trying to solve, and are you ideally placed to help?

Another thing to consider when defining your target audience is what does this customer offer you? Do they have a wealth of contacts or a network you can tap into that could help grow your business? 

Identifying the customers who won’t enhance your business will make your marketing strategy more efficient – and save a lot of stress in the long run. 

Finding your audience

So, you’ve matched your product or service with your ideal audience and customer, but how do you reach them? That’s where your marketing strategy, something I can help with, comes in.

First, make sure you have the resources you need to create an efficient marketing strategy that attracts lots of leads. That means ensuring there’s enough money, time, expertise and energy to develop an end-to-end campaign.

Next, craft and hone a brand message that will appeal to your (now clearly identified) target audience, demonstrating how your business can meet their specific need, making sure to use a consistent tone of voice, look and feel across the campaign, including branding, design and content.

Finally, focus your marketing on places where the research says your audience will be receptive: whether it’s SEO-optimised blogs or podcasts on your website, social media posts, video updates or e-mail newsletters.

Understanding what you’re selling

You could be forgiven for raising an eyebrow and scooting past this section, but bear with me, because this is another crucial part of your marketing strategy.  

Being able to persuade customers to buy your product or service goes far beyond the hard sell. You need a complete understanding of why what you’re offering fills a need, and how long that need is likely to exist.

Is the relationship you have with your customers purely transactional, or could there be more to it? Are they looking to deal with a business that is authentic, experienced and delivers on their promises?

Ask yourself, what are you really selling? The answer probably has little to do with something you can hold in your hand, but more likely an experience or emotion. Understanding that and putting it at the core of your marketing strategy will go a long way to helping your business succeed.

Know your price

The complicated relationship between value and cost has kept many a business owner up at night, but if you’re just starting a new venture, the prices you charge for your product or service are – unsurprisingly – a fundamental part of your marketing strategy.

Companies offering specialist services must deal with the concept of ‘perceived value’, ie: what a potential paying customer deems an appropriate amount for what they are buying.

Even if you’re offering a niche product or service, it’s invaluable to know where your competitors are and how much they are charging, so you can factor this data into your marketing. Your customers will be doing this research, and so should you.

To come up with a viable pricing strategy, many B2B operations take the pragmatic approach and ask the following questions: 

  • How much is the product worth to the customer? What problem does it solve, how costly is that problem?
  • How much can the customer afford to pay? This will dictate your target market as well as pricing approach.
  • What does it cost to produce and deliver the product or service? Ideally, this figure shouldn’t be higher than numbers one or two. If it is, a rethink will be needed.

This is where a deep understanding of your target audience and market will really pay off! All that data will help you identify the sweet spot for pricing your business, keeping your customers happy and you ahead of competitors.

If you’re still intimidated by the thought of launching your own marketing strategy, don’t worry, I can guide you every step of the way. Drop me a line and let’s talk about how I can help: https://www.agnesmarketing.co.uk/contact/