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Strategic marketing a must

June 08, 2011
  • Poor
Poor

Q: We have spent a lot of money advertising our neighborhood retail store without very good sales results. This includes newspapers and radio. Where do we go from here?



A: Marketing your business includes much more than advertising and sales. While these are important parts of marketing, there is a horde of other tools and tactics. These tools help enhance your business' attractiveness and visibility. Using these resources, in addition to careful research and planning, help yield a successful marketing strategy.

The key is to think of marketing not as a single action but a combination of steps designed to identify, attract and retain profitable customers, and to differentiate your business from the competition. It encompasses everything from your company name, logo and service lines to advertisements, public relations, presence at trade shows and community involvement.

Marketing strategies need to be tailored to your business and target customer base. To prepare yourself for marketing, create a detailed profile of your ideal prospects. As you create your marketing message, aim it at them and list the benefits they will receive. Be certain your marketing message highlights any special knowledge and expertise you offer.

Additionally:

 Look for ways to make the buying process easier for your customers. What roadblocks can you remove? Simplify things, eliminate potential interruptions in the sales process and make decision making as painless as possible for your customers.

 Put your marketing budget in proper perspective. You might, for example, think of marketing as your "ace in the hole" rather than merely a business cost. Try to set a budget and a pace that let you market continuously. Customers' memories are short, and they are bombarded with thousands of marketing messages and images daily. Your efforts must be ongoing or people will quickly forget.

 Match your marketing to your primary market. If it's a local market, then that's the area in which you should focus. Broadly focused newspaper or radio advertising, for example, might be the wrong choice. Instead, consider marketing neighborhood by neighborhood.

A good place to find marketing help is the American Marketing Association's Web site, www.marketingpower.com. There you will find valuable business guidance in the areas of research, Internet marketing, advertising, public relations, customer service tips and more.

To learn more about marketing your small business, contact SCORE, America's free and confidential source of small-business mentoring and coaching. SCORE is a nonprofit association of more than 12,000 business experts who volunteer as mentors. Locally, call 301-766-2043 or register for mentoring at hagerstown.score.org.



Robert A. "Bob" Poor is a local small-business owner/operator. He is a small-business counselor and a regular contributor to the Ask SCORE column. Questions may be emailed to him at r.poor@myactv.net or sent by mail in care of The Herald-Mail, P.O. Box 439, Hagerstown, MD 21741, ATTN: Ask SCORE column.

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