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Thursday, February 21, 2013

How To Market Your Small Business With A Budget Of $1,000 A Month

We all are aware that small businesses don't have large marketing budgets. In fact, every dollar counts more than ever especially as a start up. When considering how to market a small business, look for ways that allow you to do "more with less".

There is no definitive "best way" though. Your market will judge the best way by the response you get.

Whatever you decide to do I would recommend....

(i) BE CLEAR ON YOUR MESSAGE & MARKET

Before you commit any money, be sure of the message you want to convey. You're servicing both business and consumer - will your message be different for each? What problem do you solve; what is the result they will achieve by buying your service?

(ii) ADVERTISE FOR A LEAD, NOT A SALE

If you go for the sale straight off - you either get it or you don't. If you can evoke a response to enquire, or to request more information, or a free report or "a something" and capture the contact details of your prospects - then you can market to them over a period of time, building a relationship and building value.

(iii) LOOK TO OTHER INDUSTRIES

Often, business owners have an unconscious compulsion to market their services in EXACTLY THE SAME WAY as their competitors. Look outside of your own industry and see what others are doing. How can you adapt and adopt some of their strategies to make you stand out in your own industry?

(iv) TEST! TEST! TEST!

Start small, track and measure your response. Based on the response you can decide to scale it, tweak it, or drop it.

What follows is a more specific strategy and plan for marketing that allows you to "do more with less"....

TASTE, TRENDS AND TECHNOLOGY

What does your research indicate is the trend in your field? Will it stay the way you are currently offering supplies and services or will it change? This item covers the developments you expect for the next few years. Evan a 'perfect' business can become obsolete overnight due to future developments. Specify a 5 year forecast of your field in your area.

SALES REVENUE FORECAST

Have you developed these targets? This section shows your estimates of future sales revenue for your business. Your strategic plan, needs to spell out the specific actions you will take to achieve your forecast sales revenues.

DIFFERENTIATE YOUR BUSINESS FROM THE COMPETITION

How does your business differ from the competition's strong and weak points. Again, remember to carefully look at your business from the customer's perspective. If you're not sure how your pricing policies compare to the competition, here are some guidelines. Most people associate high prices with high quality and extra service, while they associate low prices with low or average quality and minimum service. Make sure you provide extra quality and service if your prices are higher than your competition or make sure that your prices are lower if your quality is average and your service is minimum.

DECIDE HOW TO REACH CUSTOMERS

Once you describe your target customer, it's easier to create a list of possible ways to reach that person. One of your jobs as a businessperson is to decide which of all the possible methods of communication will give you the most exposure for the least cost in money or time.

EVALUATE THE RISKS FACING YOUR BUSINESS

COMPETITION: Most businesses have competition. How will your business differ in significant and positive ways from your competition? If your competition is strong, don't minimize that fact, but figure out ways you will adjust to or use that strength. For example, if you plan to open a restaurant next to an extremely popular one, part of your strategy might be to cater to the overflow. Another might be to open on days or evenings when the other restaurant is closed.

PIONEERING: If you anticipate no direct competition, your business probably involves selling a new product or service, or one that is new to your area. How will you avoid going broke trying to develop a market?

CYCLES AND TRENDS: Many businesses have cycles of growth and decline often based on outside factors such as taste, trends or technology. What is your forecast of the cycles and trends in your business? For example, if your forecast tells you that the new electronic product you plan to manufacture may decline in three years when the market is saturated, can you earn enough money in the meantime to make the venture worthwhile?

SLOW TIMES: Every business experiences ups and downs. Is your business small and simple enough, or capitalized adequately enough, to ride out slow times? Or do you have some other strategy, such as staying open long hours in the busy season and closing during times of the year when business is ?

OWNERS EXPERTISE: Nobody knows everything. How do you plan to compensate for the knowledge you're short on?

Write your risk analysis by first thinking of the main dangers your business faces. This shouldn't be hard, as you have probably been concerned about them for some time. Some of these may be on the list set out above; others will be unique to your business. Once you have identified the principal risks facing your business, write out a plan to counter each. But don't bog yourself down worrying about all sorts of unlikely disasters

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