Cheat Sheet

Small Business Marketing For Dummies (UK Edition)

Small businesses are different from larger organizations. Without corporate megabucks to help you pull in the punters, your small business marketing needs to hit the spot effectively and efficiently. If you don’t have millions in the kitty to pay for whistles-and-bells marketing, never fear: This Cheat Sheet is here to help with some top tips.

The Parts of a Full Marketing Process for Small Businesses

Advertising. Marketing. Sales. Promotions. What are the differences? The following story has circulated the marketing world for decades and offers some good answers for what’s what in the field of small business marketing communications:

  • If the circus is coming to town and you paint a sign that says, ‘Circus Coming to Winlaton Windy Fields on Saturday,’ that’s advertising.

  • If you put the sign on the back of an elephant and walk it into town, that’s promotion.

  • If the elephant walks through the mayor’s flower bed, that’s publicity.

  • And if you get the mayor to laugh and talk about it on the local news, that’s public relations.

  • If the town’s residents go to the circus and you show them the many entertainment booths, explain how much fun they’ll have spending money there, and answer their questions – and they ultimately spend a lot of money at the circus – that’s sales.

Because marketing involves far more than marketing communications, here's a second part to the circus analogy that shows how the story may continue with research, product development and other components of the marketing process:

  • If, before painting the sign that says, ‘Circus Coming to Winlaton Windy Fields on Saturday’, you check community calendars to see whether conflicting events are scheduled, study who typically attends the circus and figure out what kinds of services and activities they prefer and how much they’re willing to pay for them, that’s market research.

  • If you invent elephant ear pastries for people to eat while they’re waiting for elephant rides, that’s product development.

  • If you create an offer that combines a circus ticket, an elephant ear, an elephant ride and an elephant photo, that’s packaging.

  • If you get a restaurant named Elephants to sell your elephant package, that’s distribution.

  • If you ask everyone who took an elephant ride to participate in a survey, that’s customer research.

  • If you follow up by sending each survey participant a thank you note, along with a two-for-one voucher to next year’s circus, that’s customer service.

  • And if you use the survey responses to develop new products, revise pricing and enhance distribution, you’ve started the marketing process all over again.

Using Taglines to Convey Your Brand in Small Business Marketing

In small business marketing terms, your tagline or slogan is a quick, memorable phrase that helps consumers link your name to your business brand and position. Your positioning statement describes the unique market niche and mind space you aim to occupy. Your tagline converts that statement to a line that matters to consumers. Bear in mind that:

  • A tagline should say something essential about who you are, what makes you special, and why the world should care. It should add value to your brand and illustrate the appeal of your organisation. Think of your tagline as a final exclamation that wraps up your 30-second elevator pitch.

  • Because taglines aren’t written in stone, you can easily update or replace them if your organisation or message undergoes a shift. Use your tagline to reflect a change in positioning, launch a marketing or brand-awareness campaign, forge a relationship with a new audience, define a new direction or highlight a key benefit or attribute.

A great tagline should be:

  • Original: Make it your own.

  • Believable: Keep it real.

  • Simple: Make it understandable.

  • Succinct: Get to the point.

  • Positive: Elevate their mood.

  • Specific: Make it relevant.

  • Unconventional: Break the mould.

  • Provocative: Make them think.

  • Conversational: Make it personable.

  • Persuasive: Sell the big idea.

  • Humorous: Tickle their funny bone.

  • Memorable: Make a lasting impression.

Not all taglines incorporate all 12 characteristics – obviously, a legal or accounting firm wouldn’t aim to convey humour – but this list can help during the tagline brainstorming process.

Developing Effective Small Business Marketing Communications

Whether delivered in person, through promotions or via traditional media, direct mail or e-mail, all small business marketing communications need to accomplish the same tasks:

  • Grab attention.

  • Impart information that the prospect wants to know.

  • Present offers that are sensitive to how and when the prospect wants to take action.

  • Affirm why the prospect would want to take action.

  • Offer a reason to take action.

  • Launch a relationship, which increasingly means fostering interaction and two-way communication between you and your customer.

Good communications convince prospects and nudge them into action without any apparent effort. They match the copy to the visuals and the message with the messenger so the consumer receives a single, inspiring idea.

Following Simple Advertising Rules in Your Small Business Marketing

The following rules apply to all ads you use in marketing your small business, regardless of the medium, the message, the mood or the creative direction:

  • Know your objective and stay on strategy.

  • Be honest.

  • Be specific.

  • Be original.

  • Be clear and concise.

  • Don’t overpromise or exaggerate.

  • Don’t be self-centred or, worse, arrogant.

  • Don’t hard-sell.

  • Don’t insult, discriminate or offend.

  • Don’t hand the task of ad creation over to a committee.

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