A small business marketing plan works in two directions – inward and outward. The inward portion is understanding your market (e.g. geographic, demographic, product/service, etc.) and what it wants, and developing products and services to meet its wants and needs. The outward direction of marketing is positioning your company and its products and services in the consumer’s mind, distinguishing yourself from the competition, and creating demand through advertising, publicity, and other vehicles.
Your marketing strategy begins by learning about the market for your products or services. Where are they located? Are they wealthy or not? In what age group are most of them? Are the purchasing decisions made more often by men or women? Do they own homes or rent? How comfortable are they using the computer to shop or purchase? What’s more important to their purchase decision – price, quality, or service?
In short, you need to gather all the intelligence you can. Research your market to learn all about it. The inward portion of your marketing plan will be used to develop products and services that meet market demand. Basically, “find out what people want, so you can give it to them.”
Once you understand your market and know what products and services to sell, it’s time to develop the outward portion of your marketing strategy.
Based on your inward marketing and what you know about yourself, do you want to focus on one niche (e.g. high end or specialty), or do you want to offer a product mix at all price points? Depending on your personality and resources, you might want to specialize on one portion of the market or try to be “all things to all people.”
Think about how you want your customer to perceive you, and then create an advertising campaign to position yourself that way in their minds. Ask yourself how your competitors are viewed. Your company’s logo, store appearance, and even letterhead should all reinforce the position you’ve chosen to occupy. Strive for consistency in each impression you make.
Regardless of whether a customer hears one of your radio ads, sees a mailing from you, spots one of your trucks, sees a newspaper ad or television spot, or receives an estimate from you, there should be consistent elements that they immediately recognize, and those elements should all deliver the same message you’ve want to send about your business.