Marketing Strategy

Question: What are the critical elements in generating a marketing strategy for a small business

Answer: Product, Price, Physical Distribution, and Promotion are the 4Ps of marketing. Every decision you make that is customer focused has its beginning in these four fundamentals of marketing.

Product/service strategy – the most fundamental of all business decisions is what product or service to offer. Many times the passion of the entrepreneur allows them to go down a path of offering some products or an array of services to find that their buyers have something else in mind. As you launch a business, you have to be true to yourself. You need to offer products and services that you are excited about and provide real value to your targeted customers. You will find some buyers who are as excited as you and others that turn to another source. As long as you understand why those that are drawn to you, buy, you can build on that population to create a revenue stream. Small business owners may decide on a product strategy that focuses on a narrow product line or servicing a niche market.

Price strategy– pricing is one of the most difficult marketing decision. There are three basic pricing strategies: luxury, middle of the road, low cost. The pricing model you adopt depends on your target market and how they calculate the value. Pricing needs to take into account the costs associated with offering the product and service as well as the competitive landscape. Constantly monitoring competitive pricing will provide you with a roadmap of future pricing strategies.

How your customers buy and the quality of the delivered offering play into pricing. The most important element in developing your pricing strategy is to clearly define your differentiators. That is how people buy.

Place or distribution strategy – how you get your product or service in the hands of the ultimate consumer. If your initial portal for customer interaction is your website, then it is one part of your channels of distribution. You have to determine in your growth strategy if selling direct is still viable or do you need to find intermediaries or distributors. Be careful to research all prospective intermediaries involved in your supply chain before making a final decision.

Promotional strategy – use of advertising, sales and promotional activities increases awareness of who you are, what you do and what your offer is to prospective buyers. The big mistake small business owners make is they spend too much on marketing that produces no tangible returns.

Today you have traditional approaches such as advertising, signage, print, radio, TV, trade shows and direct mail, as well as digital media via social media to promote your small business.

Murray Newlands, a contributor to Inc., shared his best marketing strategies that can be applied to small businesses on Cape Cod.

1.  Partner with allies.  Marketing partnerships have some benefits to push a marketing campaign. For starters, when you collaborate with someone else, you tend to deliver better content. On top of that, marketing partnerships are cheaper to create, see success more quickly, and expose your brand to a new audience. If you own a bookstore, you can partner with a restaurant so that customers of one can benefit by shopping at the other.

2.  Embrace user generated content. According to a survey of 839 millennials (smart blogs), they spend 5.4 hours a day with content created by their peers. Get your customers, to generate content for your website and Facebook page.

3.  Help customers solve a problem and let them interact. As perfectly stated on HubSpot, “You’re in business because you provide solutions.” Some of the ways you can help customers solve a problem are by creating how-to-content; offering exclusives that make their lives easier; listening/responding to them; or creating apps/tools.

4.  Experiment with new channels and platforms.  Don’t hesitate to try out new channels and platforms to promote your brand. As a plumbing contractor, try Pinterest of Snapchat. Social media is where the American buying public lives today. But don’t forget more traditional platforms, like direct mail and the daily newspaper.

5.  Have some fun. You probably never heard of Dollar Shave Club until the company released that humorous YouTube video. The company continues to have its way with the shaving industry. Who do you know that is having fun with their marketing campaigns you wouldn’t expect are getting in on the action? Emulate them.

6.  Don’t forget about existing customers. I know it is important to obtain new customers if you want your business to grow. But don’t forget about the customers you already have.

You need to be thinking strategically about everything you do and building a strategic culture with your business.  What tactics do you use to breathe life into your marketing?

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