The business environment is dynamic and highly competitive. Staying afloat and remaining profitable have become more complicated. The number of new business entrances and the number of collapsing ones have increased in the recent years. The principal reason for success in some quarters is attributed to excellent management and effective marketing. The effectiveness and competence of managers make a tremendous difference to a company’s success because managers mentor, motivate, and supervise employees in order to ensure organizational objectives are met. Marketing, on the other hand, is responsible for the promotion of not only company products, but also its image. Without effective marketing strategies, a business stands no chance at all. Small, emerging, and established sucess of businesses is almost solely dependent on marketing. This paper analyses various marketing strategies open to small businesses and their possible outcomes.
Small businesses drive the economies of many states around the world today. This is due to the tax collections from these businesses as well as employment opportunities created by them. Conrad in his book, Guerilla Marketing: Easy and inexpensive strategies for making Easy profits for Small business, states that small businesses face major competition from large businesses making them vulnerable to failure or down fall (2007). However, successful marketing strategies would greatly improve the sales of the business as well as the profits or revenue of the business. Everyone in the business should be part of the marketing process, be it the CEO or the storekeeper.
Small businesses can join various trade organizations available in their country. The businesses should actively involve themselves in the activities of the trade associations. The active participation in these associations builds the business network since there is consistent and frequent interactions that build long lasting relationships. Trade associations are not only a marketing strategy for business but they also create an avenue where new ideas are born as well as training opportunities for the small business owners.
Online marketing, one of the latest marketing strategies for all business, is also a marketing strategy that is applied by small business (Diamond, 2008). This strategy is effective for small businesses since they are cost effective. Small business can create websites with contents that attract online users hence positioning the business as a source of valuable knowledge. Creating these contents does not increase the marketing costs. A successful online marketing strategy will help small businesses attract new customers and reduce marketing costs since the business is able to develop high impact strategies with limited budget and resources.
Small businesses may also offer gifts to their existing customers as well as to the prospects (Henderson, 2007). The gifts could be in form of calendars, pens, mugs, and other small gifts. However, different types of customers should be treated differently in terms of giving gifts. For example, corporate customers can be given diaries or other gifts whereas other customers can be given small gifts. Gifts create a feeling of appreciation to the existing customers as well acting as wooing strategy for the prospects.
Outsourcing is also a marketing strategy that can be applied by small businesses. Outsourcing as “…a practice used by companies to cut down costs by transferring portions or specific line of work to outsiders” (Maher, Stickney & Weil, 2008) This will ensure that the business focuses on its existing customers and also concentrate more on coming up with excellent marketing gimmicks. The outsourced business could also become a customer to the business hence a two way win.
Small business may also involve themselves in social affairs also known as corporate social responsibilities. Although the businesses may be making small profits, involvement in social responsibilities will greatly improve the image of the business. For example, giving donations to a children’s home a business may set an annual target of donating a children’s home. This improves its image, hence attracting more customers. Public relations can also be improved by engaging in sporting activities. The business owner and its employees can join a marathon making the community aware that business is part of the community. The business may also buy uniforms for the local football team.
Entering business competition is a recent marketing strategy used by small businesses. Business awards strengthen the reputation of a small business because most awards are viewed by consumers as calibration marks of quality, and a show of excellence and commitment in operations. Many competitions are free to enter.
Today, many organizations offer awards to small and established businesses for various achievements such as meeting set quality standards, recording a minimum profit quota, setting new standards in business operating process, and meeting environmental conservation targets. Upon winning the award, the business may boast the reward on its website, and also send out a press release and get the name of the business in the paper.
Small business may also join forces with other businesses to increase their promotions and advertising efforts. This is mainly applicable for businesses aiming at the same target market. For example, catering businesses putting together a catering service promotion can afford a bigger ad space at a lower price.
Small businesses should ensure that relationship between the business and the clients are maintained. Relationships between clients are better maintained through conversations. The conversations could be through online forums, calls, websites, blogs, and even social networks. A maintained relationship will lead to a repeat sale.
Small businesses should aim at building loyal customers or champions. Businesses can always count on loyal customers to boost their revenues even during economic downturns that may rock their operations. It is only loyal customers who are least affected by price wars, therefore, a small businesses should do its best to create a group of loyal customers if it is to beat stiff competition from established firms. Champions or loyalists believe in the business. The relationship between the business and business champions should be highly nurtured.
Small businesses should also ensure that they are strategically placed. The business should be located close to its supplier but more important to its customers. This way the business ensures that frequent sales can be made. For instance, having chain store close to train stations.
Seminars can also be arranged for business customers. The business may arrange seminars for its customers and invite public speakers to talk on different issues, for example, inviting a government official to talk on taxation policies. The seminars create an avenue for the business to market its products.
Businesses should also ensure that whatever is promised to customers is delivered. Do not overpromise and underdeliver. A disappointed customer will spread the word of poor customer service to prospects. As much as a business tries to acquire new customers, the existing ones should always be made happy.
Business owners should also attend events, for example, annual trade shows, annual taxpayers’ conferences and even church services. Through attending these events, the owner is able to create a range of networks as well as market the business.
Conrad, J. (2007). Guerilla Marketing: Easy and inexpensive strategies for making Easy profits for Small business. London: Sage.
Diamond, S. (2008). Web marketing for small businesses: 7 steps to explosive business growth. Naperville, Ill.: Sourcebooks, Inc.
Henderson, J. P. (2007). The small business self-starter handbook: how to manage pitfalls of small business start up. New York: IUniverse.
Maher, M., Stickney, C. P., & Weil, R. L. (2008). Managerial accounting: an introduction to concepts, methods, and uses (10th ed.). Mason, OH: Thomson/South-Western.