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Nine Marketing Foundations for Small Business: Part 2

By Anne-Marie Watson
Published July 2, 2011

Part 2 of a two part article continued:        Read Part 1: Nine Marketing Foundations for Small Business

5. Set up a budget

All businesses, including even the smallest, need a certain amount of cash upfront and ongoing, to survive. While there are many marketing and operational actions that cost nothing, all businesses should budget at the very least for some marketing costs in addition to their normal start-up costs. This varies considerably amongst companies but legal and accounting fees, salaries, and other admin costs plus any production and logistic costs, will need to be included in the business plan.

Sometimes marketing is the overlooked area for allocation of funds because, owners think they can do it all for free or at least cheaply. Avoid establishing a no-frills look business image unless it is part of your planned positioning by making sure adequate funds are set aside for brand development and promotion as well.

6. Know your customers

Knowing what your customer is like is one of the things business owners sometimes find hardest because unless they have been involved with their typical target audience, it will take some time and research. Customers are becoming increasingly fragmented in their needs and desires, with high expectations for customisation of products and services they purchase. Consumer power is unprecedented in the demands and expectations required of brands, especially business brands these days.

To offer any products or services that appeal to your target customers, they need to be tailored to meet their needs. Likewise, your communications should also be carefully designed to build a connection with your potential customers. To do this, you will need to know quite a bit about who they are and what their needs, attitudes, behaviours and habits are first.

7. Keep an up-to-date Database

To keep track of different customers and their purchase history, and interactions with your business, it is logical that you will need a database. For it to remain effective however, it should be maintained regularly to keep it up-to-date. Any promotional efforts the business undertakes that rely on this database will be undermined unless the database is up-to-date and clean. This will usually mean an investment in some type of CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software, whether off-the-shelf or customized. Small businesses may opt for something like ACT! , Goldmine or Saleforce.com. Most new CRM products are starting to build in a way of capturing social media interactions to some degree, so a comprehensive picture of all customer touchpoints are captured. This is the benchmark ideal worth searching for in any database that is reviewed for potential purchase.

8. Marketing Calendar

For many business owners, this is a ‘no-brainer' – a website is a necessity in today's world. Surprisingly, there are still many businesses which remain unconvinced. In nearly all but a few cases this view seems short-sighted and bound to result in lost business opportunities. 

9. Get a website

For many business owners, this is a ‘no-brainer' – a website is a necessity in today's world. Surprisingly, there are still many businesses which remain unconvinced. In nearly all but a few cases this view seems short-sighted and bound to result in lost business opportunities.

All the current data about c ustomer online shopping and purchase information searches just reinforces this position. The world relies increasingly more and more on technology for information and speed of information provision. Not to even offer this as an option to your customers today seems like agreeing that the world is flat.

How does your business rate?

The chances are that if you aren't doing just one or two of these business basics, you may still be doing OK but probably missing out on some easy opportunities. However, there are other key steps listed here that are so critical that it may mean the difference between achieving business success or failure. Things such as having sufficient customer demand, a well-thought out business plan and an effective USP have been the basis of failure for many businesses, both big and small. Ignore them at your peril!

…

Read Part 1

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