Start a Business

A Marketing Plan for Small Business

Marketing by definition encompasses many things and the word is often confused with or considered a synonym for, the word advertising. Advertising, like sales or sales training is simply a subsection of marketing. Marketing is the activity and process for creating, communicating, and delivering a product or service that has value for the end user – your customer. When completed, your marketing plan will direct sales techniques and provide the process for communicating the values, image and message of your small business. It is used to identify the customer, satisfy the customer, and keep the customer. So where should you begin?

With Market Research. You have to know who the target customer of your business is. Without that, how could you plan advertising or even stock your shelves with the right products? Then as a result of identifying your target customer, analyse your competitive status. For example, if you are going to sell a specific product to a certain customer and another business is currently providing a similar product, what is your competitive advantage that turns the customer to you? Is it price? Better service? Both? How will you effectively communicate that to your prospect?

This research is critical not only before the start of a business, but is necessary to stay on top of that research on a regular basis. Large companies such as Wal-Mart and Costco shop each other on a constant basis. They have people going into each other's stores and to record prices and everything else relative to competition. They are then taking that back to the marketing department to determine how to compete and the marketing strategies are then developed.

If your start-up business has either a store or a sales office, marketing includes the first impression you'll have on customers. Keep in mind that this is the first thing your customer sees, hears and smells. This includes everything from overall cleanliness, keeping your sidewalks and windows clean and ensuring staff remain professional with language, clothing, etc.

When it comes to your business signage remember the job of a sign is to direct. It needs to catch attention, have a clear message, and has to be thought through in terms of the speed of travel as people pass your sign. If its going to primarily be seen by people driving by, just give them clear points to remember your message. An in-store sign can obviously have more detail.

We started a business years ago selling houses in an area where streets hadn't yet been paved. Before the show homes were built people came to a trailer via a gravel road. Since the trailer was a compromise to start with we were determined to make a good impression when they arrived. So we overspent on signage. We overspent on brochures. We overspent on the pictures and renderings of the houses inside the trailer. They soon forgot that they were in a trailer and started to embrace the product that we were selling. We outsold our competitors with completed show homes by 2 to 1!

Knowing what sets your new business apart from the competition, making sure you'll create a great first impression and establishing a clear message are essential to the success of your overall marketing efforts. For more marketing expertise and analogies, visit


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