So you have a small business, and you’re not alone. In recent times more and more people have been drawn into starting their own business. The allure of creating your own unique brand, being your own boss and providing a quality service or product to a loyal fan base is tempting, to say the least.
Niche markets are also growing as consumers and entrepreneurs come to terms with people’s need to support a brand they feel they belong to. Your brand is your biggest asset.
It’s not all sunshine and roses, however. The massive proliferation of small businesses also leads to much more competition, especially when vying for attention. Chances are there are many businesses much like yours, big and small.
This is the essence of why marketing is so important for small business owners. It’s not only about the number of customers you reach, but how, at what cost and why.
Let’s look more in depth at this is. We will also give you some suggestions on platforms and methods you can use as a small business owner to promote your brand.
So why is marketing so crucial?
Spreading the word of your brand
Let’s get the obvious out of the way first. Above all else, if people don’t know about you, they cannot make use of your services or product. It is important to utilize as many different media platforms as you can.
You also want people to know what products and services you offer. Think about it this way. Everyone knows about Coca-Cola. Someone can crave a Cola and go buy it. If they don’t “know” your product in the same way, why would they come to you?
Social media has made it easy to affordably reach consumers at any time, place and through a variety of platforms. Talking to customers individually is also so much easier.
To lift your sales, it’s not only about getting as many people as possible to notice your brand.
If you own a coffee shop and someone is craving a coffee, you should hope they see your coffee first and come knocking! This is also where targeted ads are so important. If you run a steakhouse, advertising on a vegan forum is obviously not a good idea. Target viewers who will turn into customers and watch your sales grow.
Many tools, of which Google AdSense is just one example have made it much more accessible to target the right audience.
Through unique marketing strategies that really express your brand, you can build a loyal customer base that sticks with you when times are tough. Your marketing strategy should include ways you can identify with your target audience on a personal level. Nowadays, people don’t just buy your product, they buy into your brand as well. Loyalty has become a commodity.
A big factor in brand loyalty is customer engagement. Would you stay friends with someone that ignores you, or doesn’t listen to you? Create a platform for people to engage with your business or other customers to create a “community” around your brand.
This is an area where small businesses actually have a one up on their big brothers. As a small business, you most likely have more time to engage individually with your customers. It could be this TLC that makes them come back.
Foster healthy competition
Getting the word out there about your products/services and pricing helps keep competitors honest as well. If people know about the other options out there, it’s much harder for other businesses (even large ones) to create a monopoly. If customers get overcharged, but they know of a cheaper supplier nearby, they can easily switch brands.
Increased brand reputation and prestige
People can sometimes be easy to tempt. If you have a good marketing strategy and good visibility to the public, more and more people will try you at some point or another. Providing a good service or product will not only make these customers return but might turn them into free marketing through word of mouth. Make sure good stories surrounding your business get out.
You can further build a reputation by taking part in the community. Get involved in any community charity projects, maybe even give some product away. The stereotype surrounding big businesses that “don’t care”, gives you the opportunity to show that you do.
How to market on a budget
We have provided some quick suggestions above on how you can effectively market without the need of a huge marketing budget. For a comprehensive list of marketing strategies on a budget, check out this great article.
The most important thing is that you use social media wisely. Look at what your competitors are doing and try to outdo them. Create conversations around your brand, and find ways to make people want to post about you.
We hope this article has proven to you how crucial marketing is for small business owners. Especially at the start of a small business’ life, it’s important to steadily grow your brand.
So what are you waiting for? Go spread the word!