Marketing for a small business is a very interesting beast, isn't it? When you mention the term marketing these days, people immediately seem to think Google advertising, websites and internet marketing, but marketing is so much more!
I believe that most small business owners find themselves in a precarious position where they know they need to do more marketing, but they're so busy meeting the needs of their existing customer base that they just don't have the time or money to do so.
But first, let's ensure that we're on the same wavelength. In the book Principles of Marketing, Philip Kotler, Gary Armstrong, Veronica Wong and John Saunders suggest that marketing is the process by which companies determine what products or services may be of interest to customers, and the strategy to use in sales, communications and business development.
I am a firm believer that marketing starts ‘at home'. That is, with your own day to day dealings with customers as well as your staff (assuming you have staff, of course!). This is by far the cheapest form of marketing there is! I know I am known as that “happy go lucky guy” so, yes, I guess it comes naturally to me, but being in a good mood and making people around you feel good about themselves actually does help your business! At the very least people don't leave saying they'll never deal with you because you're rude!
In today's business environment and with all these young Gen Y people in the workforce, we also can't use the traditional dictatorial style of management anymore. Do you want your staff to relay a positive image about your business? Then make sure you treat them in a positive way. The culture in a business has become so important, and staff can make or break your business!
We have so many free ways of marketing our businesses at our disposal. Simply talking to our clients, asking them questions about our businesses and products, creating Facebook fan pages and providing strategic status updates can all have a significant impact.
Why would someone need your product or service? Most likely it is something that people can do themselves, but why would they? You offer a product that is much more professional and will get much better results. Let's take websites, for example: Sure you can build your own and do your own internet marketing, but would it be as good as what a professional internet marketing company could do for you, for example? Sure you could do it “for free”, but I doubt you'd do it as well and if you add up the time you take to build it, upload it (assuming you figured out how), publish it (assuming you figured out how), you'd probably have been better off to get someone professional to do it.
In the same way would you not be better off having a professional marketing company take care of your marketing for you? There are many reputable companies who specialise in small business marketing, combining diverse industry knowledge and marketing expertise to offer you the flexibility, control and convenience that best suits your needs.
We hope to have some of these companies present some great marketing tips at some of our SAbona Business Network (SBN) events soon.
But in the meantime, don't delay: Start your internal marketing campaign ‘at home', with the staff and customers that you interact with on a day to day basis. Make the people around you feel good about themselves. The chances are you'll benefit in many ways; not only through marketing your business!
Philip Scott is the chief executive officer of SAbona and co-ordinator of the SAbona Business Network.