How To Develop Effective, Affordable Marketing Strategies For Small and Medium-Sized Businesses That Drive Growth, pt. 1

by Eddie Reeves on March 8, 2010

If you want to develop effective, efficient and affordable marketing strategies to help take your small or medium-sized businesses to new levels of growth and success, read on:

What is marketing?

Marketing means many different things to business people. To small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) it often means advertising, sales,  networking or an expensive website with bells and whistles that the owner doesn’t understand nor need.

In virtually every case, it means expense — sometimes substantial expense.

I continue to be amazed at how much so many small and medium-sized businesses — the very entities that are the lifeblood of the economy — struggle with marketing themselves effectively. When I engage with them as consultant or coach, i invariably find that they have all kinds of misconceptions about what marketing is, what it can help them do, and how to implement it in a way that gets maximum results for minimum cost.

Let’s spend the next couple of posts helping cut through some of the marketing fog that has left so many entrepreneurs blind.

Peter F. Drucker, the father of modern business management, said that the purpose of any business is to create and keep a customer.  That’s marketing, folks.

What marketing is really all about is simple, though not necessarily easy:  It means is understanding all there is to know about your business’ capabilities, customers, competitors, and the overall market, then figuring out how to present yourself to the right person, at the right time, with the right offer, at the right price to get that customer to choose to do business with you.

Marketing is useful if – and only if – it fuels business growth. This point seems self-evident, but trust me, business people lose site of it all the time.

Having people know you exist only adds value if they are ready to buy, understand your offer, and accept your value proposition. You need clear messages to convey what that is.

You must evolve a strategy to grow your business. Even if you want to remain the same size, you need to be ready when the market changes, or your competitors will take business from you.

At first, you may get business by word of mouth. Telling all your business contacts, friends, family, golf partners, and church members will often provide a few clients. Then, if youdeliver good results they may give you some referrals. You start to network and get some leads from that activity—maybe. But to achieve real growth you need to plan for it.

You need a more holistic Go-to-Market strategy.

This means asking:

• Who am I?
• What unique product or service can I reliably provide?
• Who are my target customers for this product/service?
• What exact benefit will they derive from this product/service?
• Why should they get it from me?

Then it requires knowing:

• What’s happening in my market?
• What’s happening in my business?
• What resources do I have?
• What is my pricing policy?
• How do I best communicate with my target market?

You need to review your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT), and create a way to deal with them. You need marketing action plans to make the most of the opportunities you have, and you need to develop materials that support your marketing activities.

More on that in the next post.  Stay tuned …

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