Cost Effective Small Business Marketing Strategies and Tips

This is the final article in a 6 part series on Cost Effective Small Business Marketing Strategies. In the previous article, I discussed Marketing Tactics and Key Marketing Elements. In this article, I will discuss Important Marketing Plan Elements and Successful Marketing Attitudes.
Pulling it All Together: Important Marketing Plan Elements
My article on Writing a Winning Marketing Plan provides you a successful structure to work with toward achieving a well balanced plan. In this section I will discuss the important concepts and elements of a successful Marketing Plan.
-- Develop a Good Meme: A meme is a simple way to communicate a main idea or theme or benefit of your business. It is an instantly recognizable transmission of what a company is all about. It is more than a Logo. A Meme is representation of the Company Identity (i.e. Logo) and its Key Benefit or Advantage. It can be a Symbol or Words. Something that not only helps brand a Company's Identity but helps the audience translate it instantly into the Company's Chief Benefit or Advantage. Memes are highly effective when used on Websites, Company letterhead, the back of a Biz Card, brochures, circulars - in other words, it needs to be in all Your Marketing materials.
-- Theme: You need a good Theme to go with a Meme, such as "ABC Biz Success Solutions". I use "Biz Success" as the main theme for ABC Business Consulting because ultimately that is why clients hire us. I use this theme in other areas of the business as well, such as: "ABC Biz Success Guide" or "ABC Biz Success Articles". Both the Meme and Theme working together effectively identify and brand your business. They help you standout in a mass of competitors. Memes and Themes are only effective when they are used prolifically.
Note: Another reason we chose "ABC" Business Consulting as the company name is the company will be listed close to first in alphabetical listings and directories. Choose your Company Name carefully - think it through. It should say what you do as a business and be easily remembered. We also chose this name as it would be a good domain name for the website to effectively compete in one of the most competitive keyword areas. Think your Company Name, Domain Name, Meme and Theme through carefully - it can be your most effective marketing element!
-- Branding: An accepted Brand Name = Credibility. It builds confidence and word of mouth sales. Credibility and confidence set you apart from the competitive pack. A good Company Name, Theme and Meme are essential components of successful Branding. Branding builds familiarity through repetition. A Brand most importantly builds customer trust. It keeps the customer and prospect thinking about your company; consistent and constant awareness of the business and what you stand for. Consistent Marketing creates and sustains a Brand, especially if done through many layers and platforms of media.
-- Positioning: This is the goal of every Marketing Plan, finding that Niche. To come up with your Niche, you need a good Market Plan Process. As part of that process, you will analyze your strengths, weaknesses, the competition and the different Market Trends. The goal is to differentiate yourself enough so your offering is unique to a niche market with little competition. Your Market Positioning is the process of differentiating yourself through location, price, quality, product offering, services, selection, convenience, promotion and a host of other market positioning (differentiation) factors. Can you achieve a Niche that has little or no competition? Probably not but you sure can differentiate yourself. See how important Positioning is?
All of your Marketing Materials & Promotions should highlight your differentiation. Give your target niche a reason to see you differently compared to the competition. Your Market Positioning is the major key in your Company's success. By success, I mean high profit margins. Differentiation = Profits.
Note: Before putting a Marketing Plan into Action, it needs to go through the Strategic Planning Process to determine what risks are associated with the Marketing Plan and if those risks have been adequately minimized through the Positioning Strategy. Strategic Analysis helps you determine if your Marketing Plan can effectively compete in its Positioning Strategy, as well as, the other components of a Marketing Plan. Moreover, a Strategic Plan maps out the Marketing Plan and puts it into Action with Milestones and checkpoints along the way. Please see my Article on Strategic Planning for more information on developing a successful Strategic & Sales Plan.
-- Quality: I have talked a lot about Quality in this article. Remember, after Confidence, Quality is the second most reason a prospect considers a particular business. Quality is what the Customer gets out of the product or service experience with your Company. Quality is what will separate you from your competition; it will enhance your viral, word-of-mouth advertising; and it helps define your positioning niche. Quality and service really work hand in hand - it's the quality of service which keeps customers coming back and prospects interested. Your Marketing should reflect this! Fast service, Cheap Prices and a Wide Selection will not matter, nor make up for, Poor Quality.
-- Location: Depending on the type of business you have, Location can be a must and be well advertised and marketed. Physical location is becoming less important with the reliance of the internet. Either way, whether you have a location dependent business or not, it is important to have a strong presence on the Web. All your Marketing Materials and Programs should be built around a Web Strategy, and prospects should be able to easily find your business through the internet. Your website should further instill confidence in the prospect to visit your business.
-- Referrals: Ask for them before, during and after the sale, as well as, bi-annually thereafter. Referrals are your best prospects and are exponential in numbers when a Referral System is effectively merged with your Marketing Strategy. Have a Referral Program throughout your company so your Employees will be incentivized to provide them.
-- Testimonials: One Word, Powerful! Your Marketing Materials should include testimonials with a picture if possible. Your website should have video and audio testimonials. Testimonials will close sales for you. Use them!
-- Credibility: This should come across all your Marketing Materials. The reason a prospect buys is because a bond of trust has been built, and credibility goes a long way toward building that trust. So what makes you credible? Publicity, Articles, Newsletters, Testimonials, Referrals, Magazine Ads. Quality, good Service and Consistency go a long way too! Word of mouth or viral advertising builds bukoo Credibility as well. Being involved in your Community is an excellent means of building a solid, credible reputation. The biggest one? Honesty. Be honest with your customers and your credibility (and sales) will soar!
-- Reputation: Very closely linked to Credibility. A good reputation comes over time through consistent credibility. One bad experience can increase twenty fold or more so be sure to have a good Customer Service Program in place to support your reputation building Marketing Plan. You earn a good reputation by doing the right things over a long period of time. A good reputation instills Confidence in the prospect - the number one reason a prospect turns into a customer. Doing everything right earns you a good reputation. Not that you have to be perfect - mistakes will always happen. It is what you do after a mistake happens that really determines your reputation. The nice thing about Reputation is it doesn't cost you a dime - just Effort! Effort which needs to be built company wide, from the Company President down through all the employees.
-- Payment Plans: Payment Plans should be built into your Marketing Strategy as it removes risk, adds credibility and builds confidence. Use it and advertise it!
-- Understanding your Competitors: This is a really crucial component of a Good Marketing Strategy. Knowing what your Competitors offer; who they target; what their customer experience is like; and how they operate are really important in segmenting Your Niche. Learn what they are doing right and differentiate yourself on where they are failing or lacking. Marketing Segmentation cannot be well established without knowing your Competitors. The end result of good Competitive Analysis is establishing Competitive Advantage and carving out a Market Niche through that advantage. Your profitability hinges on how well you know your Competitors.
-- Be a Green Company: Being an environmentally friendly company can buy you earth conscious customers and support a great cause at the same time. Customers will pay nearly 40% more to patronize an environment friendly company. However, it is important to practice what you preach - don't support a cause if you aren't 100% sold or committed to it.
Successful Marketing Attitudes
Marketing is the transposition of an attitude which you hope customers want to jump on and join. Some successful attitude elements to include in your Marketing efforts:
-- Passion: Passion and belief in yourself, your business and your products attracts customers. It should be reflected in all your Marketing materials.
-- Give it Away: Be generous with your knowledge by giving prospects free information and expert advice. It will come back to you threefold in publicity and referrals.
-- Be Fast: We are a highly competitive, instantaneous society. You better be fast in responding to prospects and customers alike because your competitors sure will be!
-- Clean Company Image: Keep your company looking good; have an updated website and run a Professional, orderly organization. Attract instead of detract!
-- Telephone Skills: You and your employees should be happy to hear from prospects and customers. Be friendly, happy and engaged. They should feel important.
-- Value Keys:
-- Value is more important than Price.
-- Enhance your perceived value. It is the value that your customer thinks he or she is getting.
-- Offset a prospect's anticipated price with your value offering: i.e. benefits, quality, presentation, reputation, experience, credibility, the green factor, etc.
-- Be in Tune with your Customers: Be engaged and sensitive to your customer's needs as they change over time. Listen to your customers! They are telling you what your Marketing Strategy should be moving toward. Be proactive and fix issues before they become major. Be easy to conduct business with.
-- Be Flexible: Work with your customers and the changing trends. Meet your customers more than halfway. Understand that flexibility relates directly to Service, Quality, Price, Value, Selection, Payment Plans, and Location - all those important Marketing components. Be flexible to your customers' needs.
And Finally, Understand that Marketing is Psychology
Understand some customers are Logical and other Emotional. Based on their psychology, you tailor your presentation and communications. Make it easy for a prospect to unconsciously buy into your offering. Some like images, a painted picture. Others like numbers and proof. Some like a little of both. I like to sell positive benefits that make a prospect feel good, no matter if he or she is left or right brain dominate. Remember, passion and belief sells - fill your prospects with confidence. The confident unconscious state sells the conscious mind way before the sale occurs. You master this psychological transference in your Marketing and Sales Program, you will be profitable. Bone up on your Psychology skills!