How important is marketing to your new business?
“Marketing brings money into the business,” says Gene Fairbrother, the lead micro-business consultant for NASE’s Business 101 program. “The driving force for every revenue dollar is marketing.”
- Build awareness about your new business
- Create an image for your new business
- Deliver messages about you, your products and your services
- Develop a customer base
Marketing isn’t just placing an ad in a newspaper or launching a website or putting a banner sign in your store’s window. It’s all of those things—and more.
“Advertising is part of marketing. But marketing is also customer service. It’s knowing who your customers are,” says Fairbrother. “Marketing brings it all together.”
Marketing can cost thousands of dollars or very little, depending on how you choose to market your business. And spending more money doesn’t necessarily equate to more results.
Identify your target customers
The more you know about your ideal customers the better you’ll be able reach them. Answer questions such as:
- Is your ideal customer an individual or another business?
- What products and services does your customer currently buy? Where do they shop?
- What problems does your customer face and how do your products or services solve those problems?
- Which newspapers, magazines or blogs does your customer read?
- Which websites do they visit?
Know your marketing options
Before you can decide how, when and where to market your business, you have to understand the tools at your disposal.
Here’s a quick list of a few marketing tools you can deploy:
- Print advertising—newspaper, magazine and local newsletters
- Online media—e-newsletters, search engine ads and websites
- Social media—blogs, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn
- Direct mail—postcards, newsletters, coupons and sales letters
- Trade shows—local as well as national
- Broadcast—radio and television (don’t overlook local cable channels)
- Signage—in your store, on your vehicle, on billboards
- Promotional products—mugs, pens, magnets and other items that promote your business
- Word of mouth—get satisfied customers to tell their friends (and remember to ask your customers for referrals)
- Networking—at the Chamber of Commerce, at trade and industry organizations, even at social events
The most effective marketing uses a variety of these vehicles.
Don’t overlook free PR
Many new business owners depend on advertising and other expensive marketing tactics while ignoring some of the free, most effective alternatives, like public relations.
For example, instead of buying ad space in a magazine, perhaps you could write a short article for free and present it to the magazine’s editor. Include your credit line at the end of the article. That credit line might state your business name and website address. Presto! You get the attention of readers without spending a dime.
The same goes for radio or television. Instead of buying a
costly advertising spot, offer yourself as a guest on a local talk program to discuss your area of expertise. You reach the same audience—for free.
And don’t forget trade shows or conferences. Rather than purchase expensive booth space at the show, deliver a dynamic keynote address or give a workshop for attendees.
The NASE can help
Find more marketing information and ideas in these NASE articles: To print, click here to download the full Startup Kit.