It is often said that in business you have to spend money to make money. This may be true, but paying your hard-earned cash to market your business doesn’t necessarily mean spending a fortune on advertising, says Standard Bank.
“Marketing your business and getting customers through the door is about defining who your customers are and then developing plans to attract them to buy your products or use your services rather than those of a competitor,” says Clive Pintusewitz, head of Small Enterprises at Standard Bank.
“To many business owners, marketing means advertising, which in turn means a big budget,” he says. “However marketing is much broader than this. It can bring major benefits to a company, and should be seen as an investment in the future. As such, it needs to be part of a strategic, measureable plan.”
Do a marketing plan
The following should be considered when marketing your business, says Pintusewitz:
- Know who you are selling to. Identify your target markets before you begin planning.
- Define what customers need from you and what they expect you to give them.
- Examine what your customers buy and how this fits their lifestyles. Match the benefits you provide with your customers’ needs.
- Know what sets you apart from your competitors, and use what is unique to your business to promote it.
- Put all this information on paper, along with various marketing ideas.
- Examine the advantages and disadvantages of the ideas and refine the marketing channels or tools you would like to use.
The above will provide a business owner with a strategy, that could see him or her distributing leaflets on 10 different occasions, or using ads in the local paper over a period of several months to keep visibility high, or sending SMSs to customers to promote products or services.
Establish your USP
What makes a business unique is called its unique selling proposition (USP).
When combined with the benefits of its products or services, this forms a powerful platform for marketing a business. People want to know how a product can save them time, money or solve everyday problems that impact them.
“Your USP needs to attract your target market. It could be something small like offering customers a guarantee on items that they buy, or, if you provide a service, a flat rate rather than a higher after hours call out fee,” says Pintusewitz.
It doesn’t have to cost a fortune
Instead of big budget advertising, you can also effectively promote your business through community newspapers, school newsletters, classified ads and even putting free material on social media platforms.
If you write well, you can also pen your own advertisements. The key points to consider when compiling an ad are contained in the ‘AIDA' formula:
- A- is for attention. The ad needs to attract attention
- I- is for interest. It must be interesting to readers
- D- is for desire. It must meet a customer need
- A- is for action. It must have a call to action, so ensure that you include your telephone number and website address
The objective of marketing is to attract customers, so it is important to measure the results it brings in. To be profitable, marketing efforts should cost less than the money they bring in from sales.
Keep customers coming back
“It is also key to convert new customers into regulars,” Pintusewitz says. “This means ensuring that they get the service and products they need, and are constantly kept up to date with what you have to offer.”
“Build up a data base of names and contact details so that you can send SMSs or e-mails to your best customers to provide them with regular updates about your products or services. Show them you are interested in them and they will keep coming back. Being indifferent to their needs could see them becoming part of the 63% of customers who never return to a businesses,” says Pintusewitz.