Effective Small Business Marketing For Beginners

Effective small business marketing is the lifeblood of any small business. An unsettling high percentage of small businesses fold within the first year of operation with most of the first year survivors closing shop by the end of the third year.

One of the major reasons that small businesses fail is a cash flow crisis. Effective small business marketing is one of the few business tools available to a small business owner that GENERATES cash.

Effective small business marketing starts with being able to write a simple and practical marketing plan, specifically for your business. This marketing plan then forms the basis of all your marketing efforts and acts as a reference point when you have to decide between two or more courses of action.

The result of following a well constructed marketing plan is that all your different marketing efforts form part of a co-ordinated strategy aimed at attaining your predetermined goal. That is in stark contrast to the marketing efforts of most small businesses and immediately puts you ahead of the pack.

Effective small business marketing naturally comes with some challenges – and advantages. Challenges might include a lack of marketing savvy, a limited marketing budget, time constraints especially if you are a one person business and so on. Anyone who has run a small business should recognise the danger of spending too much time working in the business rather than on the business.

There are many advantages however in marketing a small business as opposed to a corporate giant. These include a lack of a hierarchy of decision makers, no red tape to fight through to get anything done, direct contact with your target market and many more.

Effective small business marketing should and can be the cornerstone of every small business. Your simple yet effective marketing plan is the map that will guide you out of the woods towards a profitable business, irrespective of the market segment you operate in.

Small Business Marketing – The Power of a Market Review

Conducting a market review is one of the most important steps in the small business marketing process as it provides together with a business review the information you need to create a dynamic marketing plan. All big businesses conduct these reviews as they know it can save time and money for their business.

A market review does not have to be complicated and a lot will depend on what information you can source. The important factor regarding a market review is to understand the key elements of your market and how these elements can affect your business now and in the future.

The key elements you need to look at when conducting a market review for your small business include:

Size of Market
Your market is simply the overall industry in which you compete. For example if you sell juice then you compete in the Beverage Market. If you sell holidays as a travel agent then you compete in the Tourism Market. Analyzing the size of your market can tell you whether it is growing or declining, help you to identify growth opportunities and for a new small business can determine if the market is large enough to compete in and operate a profitable business. There are many sources you can use to gather information on the size of your market and these include trade magazines, industry associations, search engines and local government websites and resources.

Market Segment Analysis

Segmentation is a process that looks at the total market and then divides the products or services into broad groups that have similar characteristics. In the examples above, whilst the total market is beverages, the segment that is the most important to a juice manufacturer is the Juice Segment. Looking at the total beverage market today throughout the world the leading soft drink manufacturers have entered many of the market segments such as bottled water to expand their business. Market segment analysis also helps you to determine where your small business marketing efforts should be concentrated.

Distribution Channel Analysis
A distribution channel is the way in which your product or service is made available to your customers so they can purchase it. Examples are supermarkets, personal selling (face to face selling), distributors and the internet. Analyzing the sales of each distribution channel in your market enables you to identify which channels are the most important for you to compete in to grow your business.

Market Trends
A trend is any significant change to your market that your business may need to respond to. Examples of market trends include changes to the economy, changing customer demographics, social and global factors (to name a few). If you conduct business in the USA at the moment or are intending to compete in the USA then the concerns about a possible recession and how it could affect your small business needs to be identified so action plans can be put in place to minimize the impact.

Market Seasonality
If a product or service is seasonal it means that the majority of the sales occur at one or a few times a year. Tax accountants obviously have increased sales when the end of the financial year occurs and tax returns and other government reporting are required. Understanding market seasonality factors can lead to your small business maximizing sales through this period and also may highlight opportunities to spread your sales throughout the year.

Competitor Analysis
Your key competitors need to be analyzed in order for you to identify their key strengths and weaknesses and how they compare to your own small business. Reviewing this area means that you can be smarter with your marketing efforts and be proactive against their weaknesses and of course defend against their strengths. One tip that all big businesses do is to have a competitor file with examples of their marketing activities, products or services.

Big businesses know the value of reviewing the market in which they compete and you can to. Remember you can start slowly and just review one section at a time and then put in place activities or make business decisions based on the review to grow your small business.

© Marketing for Business Success Pty Ltd 2008

Some Resources For Finding a Business Broker

Before we talk about resources for finding a business broker, let us first understand who is a business broker. Business broker resembles very much to the real estate agent. The job of the business broker is to bridge the gap between the buyer of the business and the seller of the business. If you wisely choose the right business broker, you can save a lot of money in the business transactions taking place through him. Here are some resources for finding a business broker for you.

Ask the People Whom You Already Know For Referrals:
Whenever we look for something that is new to us and we are not familiar with it, we try to gather information from the people we already know, and have faith in them that they would not misguide us. Same procedure we can apply when we look for the resources for finding a business broker. Take the advice of your business associates, accountants, lawyer and other associations of the industry to get the names of business brokers. If a reliable person gives the reference of any business broker then there is no harm in considering him for hiring his services.

IBBA:
Another very good resource for finding a business broker is the International Business Brokers Association or IBBA. This is an institute of business brokers working on non-profit basis. There are approximately one thousand three hundred members of this association.

Go Through the Advertisements in Newspapers:
One very good resource for finding a business broker is newspaper. Look for the advertisements under the business opportunities. You should check local, regional and national all types of newspapers for this purpose. You will observe several businesses for sell in these advertisements. Although, these advertisements are intended to attract prospective buyers yet you can check them to find out the names of the people who are managing these deals.

Yellow Pages:
Another resource for finding a business broker is to look in the yellow pages. However, do not get confused with the real estate agents and look specifically for the brokers who have experience in the selling of businesses. Any broker who just lists the name of your business on the multiple listing services is of no use to you. These kinds of brokers do not give required time to make such business deals.

Sign an Agreement After You Have Selected the Business Broker:
After your search for finding a business broker ends and you succeed in finding the right business broker, sign an agreement with him. State clearly in the agreement that what type of marketing strategy the business broker will adopt to sell your business. Do not forget to mention that any such advertisement must not carry the name of your business.

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