Getting started with small business marketing can be overwhelming. There is a constant flow of new tactics surfacing, making it difficult to understand which strategies work for your industry and product or service. Even more so, it’s not easy to find a budget-friendly and effective marketing strategy.
In any business, having the right marketing strategy is essential. However, most small business owners do not have an ample budget to allocate towards marketing. We’ve laid out a beginner’s guide to small business marketing that fits well in a limited budget and can still be a profitable strategy to make sure your business is on the right track.
We’ll cover the fundamentals of small business marketing, the types of marketing that you can implement, and why it’s important to start marketing your business effectively right now.
What is Marketing?
Marketing is a business practice aimed to promote and sell products or services. In marketing, your business is constantly communicating the value of your offers through a variety of channels such as emails, blogs, or paid advertisements. Effective marketing ties the needs of customers and why your product can satisfy those needs.
Every successful marketing strategy requires consistent communication with consumers. Consumers are exposed to anywhere from 4,000 to 10,000 ads per day — your marketing strategy should define how you’ll stand out in a sea of competition.
The Four P’s of Marketing
At its core, marketing seeks to match a company product or service to customers that are interested in buying. To successfully bridge this relationship, the Four P’s of marketing give businesses the necessary factors to identify the customer’s desires, how their product meets those needs, and how to interact with those customers. The Four P’s include product, price, place, and promotion.
A product is a tangible or intangible entity that is designed for consumer use. It can be an idea, physical good, or service. A product is marketed as a solution to satisfy a consumer’s need or desire.
A business can market a product by illustrating its features, benefits, and functions. They can tell a story through the product or directly dictate how the product satisfies the needs of the consumer and why they should purchase it.
Price is the amount a customer must pay to acquire a product. Pricing reflects all your business activities, from developing products to the maintenance of your business’ website.
Pricing communicates a product’s value to the market. The market then decides whether your product is worth their time and investment.
A good pricing strategy could shape the way you implement your marketing. The two most common pricing strategies are:
- Competitor-based pricing – Price determined by competitor’s pricing.
- Value-based pricing – Price determined by the product’s perceived worth.
With a competitor-based pricing strategy, your product will be marketed as a higher-cost or lower-cost alternative to its competitors. To market your offerings through this pricing strategy, you can emulate most of the marketing done by competitors and only adjust the price. The disadvantage with this approach, though, is that it may demean the true value of your product if you are trying to beat the competition by continuously lowering prices.
On the other hand, a value-based pricing strategy relies on data from your target customers to determine their willingness to pay for your product. This approach is solely focused on value — not information about competitor pricing or costs to produce the product. The value your customer receives with your product determines the price. It communicates the value your product provides to the target customer rather than how it’s better or more affordable than a competitor’s product.
Place is used to describe the market coverage for a given product. This determines how much of the total target market your marketing campaigns should cover. A small business with a limited budget may only want to focus on a specific market area instead of thinning out the budget to reach every area. This approach is called concentrated marketing.
In a concentrated small business marketing strategy, you first identify a target market and create marketing campaigns that focus on their specific needs and desires. The purpose is to capture a large portion of the market share in a relatively small market section.
Take the marketing technique behind mechanical keyboards for computers. They have similar functions as a regular computer keyboard would have but are marketed towards computer coders, programmers, and gamers. This smaller population of keyboard users is willing to pay a higher price because of the perceived value of mechanical keyboards.
Promotion marketing aims to encourage short-term purchases, influence trial and quantity of purchase, and report back measurable data in volume, share, and profit.
This type of marketing persuades consumers to act on a deal that the product is offering. A few of the most common ways to communicate promotions include coupons, sweepstakes, and rebates. Having a promotion is a great way to identify buyers in your target market. This initiates an opportunity to create a long-lasting relationship with the customer — one that would have been difficult to start without a promotion.
Three Types of Small Business Marketing
There are numerous types of marketing that can help your business clearly communicate the value of your products or services. The three most commonly used include content marketing, partnership marketing, and direct marketing.
Type #1: Content Marketing
Content marketing is the creation and distribution of physical or digital content designed to entertain, educate, and deliver value to consumers. A smart content marketing strategy can help generate new leads by capturing consumer interest and building trust. In essence, this tactic helps answer consumer questions about why they should do business with you instead of competitors.
Videos, articles, and eBooks are common marketing formats that are economical and consumer-friendly. Content marketing can be effective even with a limited budget as businesses can target a small market segment and earn a reputation as an expert in that field. This long-term strategy can yield big rewards so long as the brand is consistent in producing valuable content.
Type #2: Partnership Marketing
Partnership marketing occurs when a business collaborates with an organization or person that targets a similar market. One notable advantage is your marketing efforts become more cost-effective and efficient. As a small business owner, gathering the required resources to gain traction in marketing can take a long time. By partnering with another business, you can essentially double the efforts while reducing the costs.
For example, a local hairdresser can market their services in a tanning salon with flyers or business cards. Likewise, the hairdresser can promote the tanning salon’s products in their store-front. This creates a win-win situation for both parties.
Type #3: Direct Marketing
Direct marketing is the process of selecting pre-qualified consumers and directly communicating an offer through various mediums. Instead of investing resources into marketing to a large pool of consumers, direct marketing can help select people that have a high potential of being interested in your offer. Small businesses can reach a particular target market to build quality customer relationships and loyalty in an existing customer base, even with a modest budget.
Common channels that can be used to implement direct marketing strategies include:
Direct mail offers marketers a way to target customers by demographics, age, profession, and even buying patterns. With the list of potential customers generated, businesses can send catalogs, advertisements, and other marketing material through mail to homes and offices. When used properly, direct mail can be an effective small business marketing method to generate sales.
Email marketing is an inexpensive and sustainable way to get your message across a target market. This tactic also provides an opportunity to partner with other companies that target a similar market. Either party can promote the other business’s products to offer their customers more value, bringing in more revenue opportunities.
Telemarketing is best characterized by businesses utilizing a contact list of customers and reaching out to them by phone. Although telemarketing is often criticized for disturbing customers, it can yield new business opportunities when following ethical practices.
There are three main categories of telemarketing: lead generation, outbound, and inbound. Lead generation is calling individuals to gather information to provide a better customer experience. Outbound calls are made to existing customers and prospective individuals who have shown interest in the company’s offer, and inbound calls are incoming calls from individuals requesting more information on the offer.
The Importance of Small Business Marketing
As a small business owner, there is an endless list of tasks that require your constant attention. Among your list of priority to-do’s should be creating a comprehensive marketing strategy to target your defined audience. The most notable benefit of marketing early on is the potential to generate a pipeline full of interested leads.
In today’s age, it’s difficult to acquire a first customer — let alone an entire customer base. A 2019 Mailchimp report found that 64 percent of pre-launch businesses had not yet acquired their first customer and 28 percent of post-launch businesses were in the same boat. Progress and growth hang in limbo without a thorough plan defining how consumers will hear about the brand or business. This is precisely why it’s crucial to launch your marketing efforts early in developing your business plan.
Strong marketing can make your small business name known and engage an attractive customer base. It’ll help your business’s overall potential and build a great reputation that can catch the attention of investors in the future. Marketing is a tool that will help your business succeed through the unforeseeable future.
Being able to run marketing campaigns doesn’t require a large budget. Strategies such as email marketing, content marketing, and partnership marketing can have very little to no financial investment — great for startups or small businesses.
When implementing affordable small business marketing strategies, you can garner customers and generate sales to reinvest in your marketing efforts to grow your business over time.
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