Marketing Strategies For Small Local Business – Marketing and promotion is essential for all enterprises. One size does not fit all, and what is good for one company may be disastrous for the next. All businesses need to have customers, or else they will go out of business. Marketing certainly doesn’t have to be expensive, but it should be a conscious and a continuous activity. This start-up “Q&A” addresses some of the more common promotion questions new business owners ask.
Answer: Brochures can be an effective means of advertising. However, the biggest mistake small business owners make before the business is established is to print their brochures. During the first months of operation, particular services and products are often refined. Phone numbers or addresses may change due to unexpected business relocation. Prices subject to change to reflect supplier and component expenses. If a brochure is to be considered an effective means of promotion, it is best to wait until the “kinks” of the new venture are worked out before spending money on printing.
Marketing Strategies For Small Local Business
The quality of the brochure is also an important consideration. Rarely is a Xerox piece of paper a good idea in marketing. A poor quality brochure reflects the quality of the company and sends the wrong message to the customer. One approach for the new microenterprise is to use a word processing template and a quality laser printer to develop informative fact sheets about your products and services. Print in small quantities on quality stock paper. Changes to pricing, website addresses, monthly specials, and other business related activities can be made immediately and without throwing expensive brochures in the trash.
Strategic Business Planning
Answer: In many cases, heavy reliance on print and formal advertising may not be the best strategy for all small enterprises. Display-type ads can certainly be cost-effective, but the placement of these ads may be a more important consideration. Buying column space in a newspaper can attract the reader’s attention only if the person needs your product or service at that moment. A radio spot on a popular local drive-time show usually interrupts the listener’s schedule, and the person may not be able to focus on your ad.
A better strategy is called “listing”. The listing puts your company information where buyers are most likely to be looking for what your company has to offer. The Yellow Pages, the local “thrift nickel,” or even brochures and business cards placed in specialty and related stores around town are good avenues. For example, if someone needs a plumber at 3:00 in the morning, the customer doesn’t click on the TV and wait for a plumbing commercial to play. Instead, he’ll open the local Yellow Pages and look for a 24-hour plumber.
Someone looking for lawn mowing service can look for business cards at a local mower repair shop or hardware store. A mechanic may place a small print ad in the local “auto re-sales”. These avenues are inexpensive and are easily evaluated to determine whether they produce results. For example, the flyer or brochure may offer a 10% discount if the person mentions seeing it or brings it to your company at the time of service.
Answer: Today, many companies have a website or at least a blog where they post contact and warranty information, hours of operation, specials and sale/discontinuance items, and general information about the company. A website can certainly lend credibility. For example, a photographer without samples of their work online will be at a disadvantage when editors or prospective brides are looking for someone to take photos.
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But, does the site require a local plumber or lawn mowing service? The decision is usually based on defining the role that the Internet plays in your business. For those who do not want to pay a website developer, many low cost on-line blog services exist and are easily mastered by those without extensive computer skills. A blog page allows the business owner to describe products or services, attach files containing information such as warranties, assembly or servicing instructions. The blog also allows for easy updates and opportunities to upload photos of the artisan’s work, customer recommendations and endorsements, and add-on products (such as a pair of matching earrings with a ring you purchased from your jewelry company).
Beyond the website, one simple task that pays big dividends is answering e-mail daily. Too many companies miss out on opportunities to satisfy customers by neglecting e-mail. Also, occasionally “pushing” e-mail to your customers’ desktops is a good way to let them know what new products or seasonal services are being offered. Avoid spamming, but keep in touch! Often a subtle e-mail prompt reminds buyers that they need their gutters cleaned for the winter, their oil changed before vacation, or their deck repaired before the next barbecue!
If you sell on a web-based auction site, a good strategy is to list your site in the auction description with the tag line: “If you’d like to see more items like this, please visit my website at www.morestuff.” Visit .com”. Note that some auction sites reject these messages. Online auction sites host eBay “stores” and this is the most cost-effective way of being online without the cost of setting up and maintaining the site. means. Amazon.com also sponsors specialty shops and auctions and may be suitable for specialized retail businesses. Craigslist can certainly be an effective listing and selling medium for the right products and services, And there’s no sales fee.
Answer: A business owner will find that it is much cheaper to keep satisfied customers than it is to find new ones. Satisfied customers tell their friends and acquaintances. Of course, dissatisfied customers tell even more people! Word-of-mouth travels fast. The last restaurant you tried was probably recommended by a friend! Companies that provide good customer service will keep repeat customers and attract new ones. Furthermore, many people will pay premium prices for work that they know will be done well and will be guaranteed.
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The key elements of quality customer service cannot be overlooked. It takes a lot of effort to develop a reputation for quality. Firstly, the people doing the work should be technically knowledgeable and efficient. For example, making a boat is easy enough; Making a boat that floats is hard. Second, customer service is related to accessibility. A customer should be able to contact the company easily. At least four means of connection should be well informed to include phone number, e-mail address, website and retail address.
Third, the product or service should be convenient to buy. Once again, multiple means of access are important depending on the specific business. retail locations, print and online catalogs; Internet auction sites all play a role, while several forms of payment seal the deal and include accepting cash, checks, PayPal and credit cards.
Finally, it is important to easily understand the guarantee of the product or service. This includes detailed written warranties, oral interpretation of guarantees at the time of sale, as well as the terms of sale printed on invoices and work orders. There are certainly times when customers are wrong but avoiding conflicts and a bad reputation is key to survival, especially in a small town or tight neighborhood.
Answer: Coupons can be quite effective for introducing new customers to your products or services and raising quick cash. The downside is that customers who use coupons are easily distracted by another competitor’s coupon the next week. As with all strategies, there are “trade-offs”.
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A low-cost image has worked wonders for retailers like Wal-Mart and K-Mart, but a new business owner must know the true cost of production. Selling for less than the cost of production will expedite the placement of your “going out of business” sign. A better overall strategy may be to have prices that reflect actual costs and quality customer service that guarantees return customers. Since it costs an average of 80% more to find new customers than to retain old ones, customer service may be your best bet, along with marketing strategies that bring in buyers in the first place.
Answer: Networking and word-of-mouth publicity are keys to small business survival, and the approaches are nearly limitless. As mentioned earlier, providing good customer service is one way to get word of mouth referrals. Another strategy is to develop a relationship map. This is simply a list of all the people the business owner knows who can tell about the business. Family members, suppliers, current customers should be included. Once the list is complete, ask the individuals on the list to assist. Suppliers may be willing to place brochures or business cards of your company on their counters. Or, your suppliers may promote your business to their customers externally. Family members may give you their business and tell their friends. Your church or bowling league can mention your company in their next newsletters and encourage people to patronize your company.
Networking is not a passive activity. Identify people and be clear about how much you would appreciate what they do for you. Be active in your community and neighborhood. People come together over shared interests. If people go to church together, they belong to the same service.
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