Small Business Marketing Kit For Dummies book cover

Small Business Marketing Kit For Dummies

By: Barbara Findlay Schenck Published: 09-04-2012

Harness the power of marketing and watch your business grow

Having your own business isn't the same as having customers, and one is useless without the other. Whether your business is a resale store or a high-tech consulting firm, a law office or a home cleaning service, in today's competitive environment, strategic marketing is essential.

If you want your small business to grow, you need a marketing strategy that works. But how do you get people to notice your business without spending a fortune? Packed with savvy tips for low-cost, high-impact campaigns, this friendly guide is your road map to launching a great marketing campaign and taking advantage of the newest technologies and avenues for outreach.

  • Using social media as a marketing tool
  • Communicating with customers
  • Financing a marketing campaign
  • The companion CD includes tools and templates to give you a jump-start on putting your new skills to work

If you're looking to give your small business' marketing plan an edge over the competition, Small Business Marketing Kit For Dummies has you covered.

CD-ROM/DVD and other supplementary materials are not included as part of the e-book file, but are available for download after purchase.

Articles From Small Business Marketing Kit For Dummies

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54 results
54 results
Small Business Marketing Kit For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Cheat Sheet / Updated 03-27-2016

Marketing is the process through which you win and keep customers. Marketing covers all the steps that tailor your products, messages, distribution, online presence, sales presentations, customer service, and other business actions to match the desires of your most important small business asset: your customer. Following is an overview of information that every small business marketer needs to know.

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Plan Your Small Business Goals, Objectives, and Marketing Strategy

Step by Step / Updated 03-27-2016

Understanding how to set goals and objectives is key to developing a good marketing plan. Your marketing strategy should reflect the goals you want to achieve as a business. As a small business marketer, if you start with a goal, a marketing strategy, and a reasonable budget for achieving your desired outcome, chances are you’ll get where you want to go. Follow these steps:

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10 Steps to Creating a Marketing Plan for Your Small Business

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

A marketing plan powers your business and is at the heart of any good business plan. In 10 steps and on as little as a couple of pages, follow this template for writing a marketing plan that turns your marketing effort into a planned investment rather than a hopeful risk. State your business purpose. Define your market situation, focusing on issues that affect your customers, your product, and your competition. Set goals and objectives. Define your market and customer profile. Define your position, brand, and creative strategy. Set marketing strategies for your product, pricing, distribution, and promotion. Outline your communication tactics. Establish your budget. Blueprint your action plan. Define opportunities for long-term market development.

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Pulling Customers to Your Business Online

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Today’s marketers live in a world where pull marketing rules, especially online. Pull marketing involves developing consumer interest by providing entertaining or educational messages that pull attention toward your business, often via your website. In today’s screen-connected marketplace, pull marketing is interactive; it’s two-way communication that begins with information, usually referred to as content, that you originate and customers encounter through search engines, referrals, and social media. From there, customers take over by clicking a provided link, reaching out by phone or in person, and, best of all, passing your message on to others through online or off-line sharing. Pull marketing is also called inbound marketing and two-way communication. Push marketing involves pushing messages and products at customers by interrupting them and prompting them to take the action you’re promoting. Push marketing is one-way communication: You talk and your customer listens and, ideally, takes action. Most often, push marketing takes place through mass media advertising, direct mail, online banner ads, and cold calls to prospective customers. It’s also known as outbound marketing and one-way communication. Outbound marketers have to push their way in front of customers, interrupting them and hoping to seize their attention. Inbound marketers draw customer interest with valuable content that customers find, share, and act upon online.

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A Helicopter View of the Marketing Process

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Whether yours is a start-up or an existing business, whether your budget is large or small, whether your market is local or global, and whether you sell online or through a bricks-and-mortar location, your marketing follows the same nonstop cycle. Conduct research to gain knowledge about your customers, product, market area, and competitors. Tailor your product, pricing, packaging, and distribution strategies to address your customers’ needs, your market environment, and the competitive realities of your business. Create and project marketing messages to reach your prospective customers, inspire their interest, and move them toward buying decisions. Go for and close the sale — but don’t stop there. After you make the sale, begin the customer-service phase. Work to develop relationships and ensure high levels of customer satisfaction so that you convert the initial sale into repeat business, loyalty, and word-of-mouth advertising for your business. Interact with customers to gain insight into their wants and needs and their use of and opinions about your products and services. Combine customer knowledge with ongoing research about your market area and competitive environment, using your findings to fine-tune your product, pricing, packaging, distribution, promotional messages, sales, and service.

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20 Marketing Truths for Small Businesses

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Marketing is the key to achieving customer interest, winning customer purchases, earning customer satisfaction and loyalty, and keeping your small business in business. Following is the least you need to know as you plan your small business marketing program: On marketing: Marketing isn’t about talking to your customers; it’s about talking with them. Marketing relies on two-way communication between your business and your buyers. On customers: As a business owner, you don’t work for yourself; you work for your customers. On products: Customers expect your business to offer products that are competitive on price, quality, and speed, and they expect you to be exemplary in at least one of those three areas. On competition: One of the biggest obstacles to the purchase — and therefore your biggest phantom competition — is your customer’s inclination to do nothing at all. On commitment: Dedicate time or money, or both, if you want to market your business from where it is to where you want it to be. On your business image: Most of the time, your business makes its first impression when you’re nowhere to be found. In your stead is your website, Facebook page, voice mail message, ad or direct mailer, business sign, or some customer’s online review or rating. Be sure those impressions align so people form the opinion you want them to have. On brands: A brand isn’t a logo; a logo is a symbol that identifies a brand. A brand is a set of beliefs in the customer’s mind; a promise customers believe. Consistency builds brands, and brands build business. On features versus benefits: When you describe a feature of your product or service, you’re talking to yourself. When you describe a benefit your product or service delivers, you’re talking to your prospect. Consumers don’t buy features — they buy benefits and solutions. On hiring professionals: Getting help is a sign of success. It means you’ve decided to invest in your business image and message. On getting online: If you’re in business — any business — your customers or those who influence your customers are online. If your business isn’t online, it’s past time to establish a web presence. On social media: Enter social media networks to build relationships and interact with consumers, not to place promotional messages that intrude, annoy, and harm more than they help your business and brand. On blogs and digital content: A blog is the hub of an online information-distribution strategy that draws customers into interactive relationships. On print ads: Four out of five people read only the headline of print ads. On broadcast ads: In all media and especially on radio and TV, it takes reach to achieve awareness; it takes frequency to change minds. On direct mail: TV ads win awards and build awareness. Social media wins buzz and launches relationships. Direct mail that takes a compelling offer straight to genuine prospects wins customers and return-on-investment contests. On brochures: The only good brochure is one that moves those in your target audience one step closer to a buying decision. On public relations: Do the right thing and then use publicity and other nonpaid communication opportunities to talk about it. On networking: In person, you have about 20 seconds to introduce yourself and make others want to know more. Online you have about 20 words. On customers and loyalty: The number of people you reach doesn’t matter. What’s important is how many qualified prospects you reach and how you move those people through the steps necessary to win their business, repeat purchases, and loyalty. On marketing plans: Marketers with marketing plans market best.

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The Small Business Marketing Cycle

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Especially for a small or start-up business, marketing is a nonstop cycle designed to win and keep customers. To build a strong business, every successful marketing program follows the same marketing cycle that begins with customer knowledge and goes around to customer service before it begins all over again. Along the way, the marketing cycle involves product development, pricing, packaging, distribution, advertising and promotion, and all the steps involved in making the sale and serving the customer well. The process is exactly the same whether yours is a start-up or an existing business, whether your budget is large or small, whether your market is local or global, and whether you sell through the Internet, via direct mail, or through a bricks-and-mortar location. Just start at the top of the wheel and circle around clockwise in a never-ending process. As you loop around the marketing wheel, here are the marketing actions you take: Conduct research to gain knowledge about your customers, product, market area, and competitors. Tailor your product, pricing, packaging, and distribution strategies to address your customers’ needs, your market environment, and your competitive realities. Create and project marketing messages to reach your prospective customers, inspire their interest, and move them toward buying decisions. Go for and close the sale — but don’t stop there. After you make the sale, begin the customer service phase. Work to develop relationships and ensure high levels of customer satisfaction so that you convert the initial sale into repeat business, loyalty, and word-of-mouth advertising for your business. Interact with customers to gain insight about their wants and needs and their use of and opinions about your products and services. Combine customer knowledge with ongoing research about your market area and competitive environment. Then use your findings to fine-tune your product, pricing, packaging, distribution, promotional messages, sales, and service. And so the marketing process goes around and around. Successful marketing has no shortcuts — you can’t just jump to the sale. To build a successful business, you need to follow every step in the marketing cycle.

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Ten Steps to a Great Small Business Marketing Plan

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

A great marketing plan is focused on your target audience, market environment, and competitive situation. When creating a marketing plan, be clear about the image and message you want to convey. Choose engaging marketing tactics that pull customers to your business, your products, and your cash register. State your business purpose Write your business purpose, such as: To fuel the success of small business leaders and entrepreneurs by providing big-time marketing advice and tools scaled to fit the clocks, calendars, budgets, and pressing realities of small businesses in today’s customer-empowered, screen-connected world. Analyze your market situation Describe the changes, problems, and opportunities that your business currently faces: Your customers: Are they undergoing economic or lifestyle changes that affect their buying decisions? Are they using new communication or purchasing channels that require adjustments in how you reach and serve them? Are their numbers growing or declining in your current market area? Your competition: How much direct and indirect competition do you face? Are new businesses competing for your customers’ dollars or threatening your business? Have competitors closed, leaving a hole that you can fill? Your market environment: Do you foresee economic changes that will affect your business? What about building or road changes that may alter buying patterns or access to your business? Will your company be affected by regional or industry events that can boost business if you promote around them? If your business is weather-reliant, are forecasts in your favor? Set goals and objectives Before planning your marketing strategies, establish what you aim to achieve. For example, win three new major clients or increase revenues by 10 percent. Put your goal and objectives in writing and then stick with them for the duration of the marketing-plan period. Each time a marketing opportunity arises, ask, “Will this opportunity help us meet our goal? Does this opportunity support one or more of our objectives?” If the answer to either question is no, quickly pass on the opportunity. Define your market Define your market in terms of geographics (where target customers live), demographics (who your customers are in factual terms such as age, gender, religion, ethnicity, marital status, income level, education, and household size), and psychographics (how your customers live, including their attitudes, behavioral patterns, beliefs, and values), then: Develop marketing tactics that appeal to your target market. Create advertising messages that align with the unique interests and emotions of existing and prospective customers. Select effective communication vehicles. Weigh marketing opportunities based on their ability to reach those who match your customer profile. Advance your position, brand, and creative strategy Define your company’s position and brand statements and creative strategy: Your position is the available and meaningful niche that only your business can fill in your target consumer’s mind. Your brand is the set of characteristics, attributes, and implied promises that people remember and trust to be true about your business. Your creative strategy is the formula you follow to uphold your position and brand in all your marketing communications. Set your marketing strategies In your marketing plan, detail the strategies you’ll follow, including: Product strategies: How will you add, alter, or promote products to develop customers and sales? Will you introduce products, revise products, or shift emphasis to a certain product or package of products?. Distribution strategies: Will you alter the means by which you get your product to customers? Will you partner with other businesses or open outlets for off-premise sales? Will your website play an expanded role in getting your message or product to customers? Pricing strategies: Over the marketing-plan period, will you adjust the pricing strategy of your business — by, for instance, moving up from low-cost pricing or adding more affordable alternatives to your current premium-price position? Will you announce new prices or payment options, a frequent buyer pricing schedule, quantity discounts, rebates, or other pricing offers? Promotion strategies: How will you use advertising, online communications, public relations, and promotions to support your marketing strategies? Outline your tactics The next section of your marketing plan details the tactics you’ll employ to implement your strategies. For example, if one of your strategies is to introduce a new product, the sequence of tactics may look like this: Select an ad agency and develop product identity and ads. Establish a direct-mail program and direct-mail list. Create sales literature and product landing pages. Develop a publicity plan. Place ads. Implement social media and blogger outreach programs. Send direct mailers. Generate industry and regional-market publicity. Train your staff. Unveil the product at a special event. Track results. Adjust communications prior to a second wave of communications. Establish your budget Your plan needs to define how much your business will devote to its marketing program. Start at zero and include costs for ad creation, media placements, direct mail, website and new page designs, trade show fees, displays, packaging, and other marketing tactics. If you require additional staffing to implement your plan, incorporate those costs into your budget. Then add a contingency of 10 percent to cover unanticipated costs. Most businesses invest a combination of marketing dollars and marketing hours to achieve success. The more time you invest — in networking, social media, and one-to-one outreach — the fewer dollars you’ll likely need to budget. Blueprint your action plan One easy way to prepare this blueprint is to create an action agenda in calendar form. Begin by entering all key events that affect your marketing plan, such as trade shows, community events, and major buying season launch dates. Then use the calendar to detail the marketing actions your plan requires, along with the budget for each action, the deadline, and the responsible party. Think long term In the final section of your marketing plan, list growth opportunities to research over the coming year for possible action in future marketing-plan periods, such as: New or expanded business locations to serve more consumers New geographic market areas outside your current market area New customers different from those in your current customer base New products or product packages that will inspire additional purchases New pricing strategies New distribution channels New customer-service programs Mergers, business acquisitions, recruitment of key executives, and formation of new business alliances Choose one to three opportunities to explore and commit to producing an analysis before development of next year’s marketing plan begins.

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Ten Ways to Attract New Customers to Your Online Small Business

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Attracting customers to your online business involves a sophisticated e-commerce marketing plan that protects your online reputation and brand while attracting customers you want. An online business must be easily findable through online search engines, while also exploiting social media. Become findable online More often than not, people form first impressions by what they learn about you online, which is why you need to commit to becoming findable online and to developing search results that consistently lead to accurate, trustworthy information about you and your business. Improve your online presence Start by evaluating the current state of your online presence, and then decide what changes you want to achieve. If web searches don’t deliver results for your business — whether people are searching for your business in particular or for businesses of your type in your market area in general — set a goal to develop an online presence so you appear prominently in future search results. If your business has a strong online presence but search results lead to outdated, irrelevant, or inaccurate information, set a goal to boost credibility by creating a website and online profiles that you control. If you have a good online presence with credible results, set a goal to deepen relationships with those in your target audience by increasing online participation and interaction. No matter what goal you’re reaching for, don’t make sales your primary aim online. Selling repels people rather than attracts them to your business, especially on social media sites. Create a single domain name and social identity Use a single business name whenever possible. But if others have already claimed your business name as a domain name or on social networks, or if your name is too long to work as a social network name (for example, Twitter limits names to 15 characters), you need a strategy. If you can’t use the same name everywhere, take these steps: Decide on no more than two names under which you’ll present your business. Include the name under which your business was established and marketed and a second name you can use when your long-standing name isn’t available or appropriate, because it’s either too long or too difficult to spell. Claim one name or the other as your domain name and across all social media channels you may ever want to use. Develop a strategy that links your names together. Use your long-standing name as a prominent keyword in all descriptions for your online name, and use your online name as a prominent keyword in all descriptions for your long-standing name. Perfect your online introduction Online, you have about 20 words (160 characters on Twitter) to introduce your business and make others want to learn more. Follow this advice for getting the most from your brief introduction: Pack your introduction with keywords that people searching for businesses or products like yours are apt to use. Tell what your business does and for whom, along with what makes it trustworthy, distinct, and likable. Deliver a sense of the kind of information people can count on you to deliver, as well as the tone — whether humorous, serious, controversial, authoritative, whatever — your messages will convey. If you’re the primary player in your business, help people locate you by your personal or business name by incorporating both into your description. Introduce yourself consistently across online channels so people on any site get a similar sense of your business and its brand image even though the length, tone, and wording of your introduction will vary to fit the requirements of each online channel. Stake an online home base To be credible online, you need a site you control and can update, that’s findable by a search for your business name. Your own website, with a domain name that includes your business name, is the gold standard for online home bases. Your own blog is a good alternative as are business pages on Facebook and Google+. Build an online media center Creating an online media center can help you increase your media coverage, establish your business as a leader in its market area or industry, and serve as a valuable resource for opinions, presentations, and advice. Include easily accessible, high-quality, reproducible information, photos, and videos that present your business, your owners and business principles, recent media appearances and coverage, contact information including social media links, and an invitation welcoming requests for interviews, presentations, and guest editorials or posts. Get active across social media Right now, if you haven’t already done so, claim your name on every social network you may ever want to use, even if you don’t plan to use the network quite yet. Sites like Check Usernames, KnowEm, and NameChk allow you to see whether user names are available across social media networks. If the one you want isn’t taken, grab it. Then figure out which networks your customers use and make those sites your starting points, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+. For retailers, Pinterest is essential, as is foursquare, Yelp and TripAdvisor, Develop a content-sharing program Businesses that pull people to their online pages do so with useful, relevant, consistently presented information not sales spiels. Commit to a content-sharing or posting schedule that ensures that you’re consistently visible online, with perhaps a couple of blog posts a week, a couple of Twitter posts a day, and a Facebook entry every couple of days. Involve your staff to help you share the burden — and the enthusiasm. Monitor your online reputation You must be tuned in to what’s being said online so you can thank people for good words, or respond to concerns, criticisms, or inaccurate comments, should they arise. Social networks make monitoring easy by offering you the option of requesting alerts whenever your user name is mentioned. Opt in. Also set up requests for free online-mention alerts through sites like Google Alerts, Bing Alerts (going through your Windows Live ID account), and Social Mention, directing responses to a single RSS aggregator like Google Reader so you can open that one resource and see alerts for all your mentions in one place. Get and stay active online Post content others want to see. Repost and share content you see and want to pass on to your social media audience. Post polls and questionnaires to generate involvement and to get opinions. Above all else, interact. Follow people you find interesting and whose content you find useful. Follow people who follow you. Subscribe to blogs in your business and interest areas. Comment on page and blog posts. Comment on comments people post on your pages. Join groups. Ask and answer questions. Add your expertise to online conversations. Become a resource. Become a thought leader. Become known and well-regarded in your business community and within your target audience. Watch your online presence, your search results, and your business success expand as a result.

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How Small Business Marketing Differs from Big Business Marketing

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

An effective marketing strategy for a small business or startup follows the same basic marketing cycle as a big business, but for the small business marketer, the similarities stop there. Budgets, staffing, creative approaches, and communication techniques vary hugely between an international mega-marketer like, say, Coca-Cola, and a comparatively micro-budget marketer like, well, you. Dollar differences in small business marketing As a small business marketer, you already know one difference between your marketing program and those of the corporate behemoths that loom over you in all directions: The big guys have the big budgets. They talk about a couple hundred thousand dollars as a discretionary line-item issue. You talk about a couple hundred dollars as an amount worthy of careful consideration. So any marketing advice you decide to follow needs to be scaled to your budget, and not to the million-dollar jackpots big businesses use as their marketing budgets. Staffing differences for small business marketers Look at the organization chart of any major corporation. Nearly always, you find a marketing vice president. Under that position you see a bunch of other professionals, including advertising directors, sales managers, online and social-media marketing managers, research directors, customer service specialists, and so on. In contrast, strong small businesses blend marketing with the leadership function. The small business organization chart often puts responsibility for marketing in the very top box, the one with the owner’s name, which likely puts you in the essential role of overseeing marketing as a hands-on task. Creative differences between small and big business marketing The top-name marketers routinely spend six figures to create ads with the sole purpose of building name recognition and market preference for their brands, often without a single word about a specific product or price. Small businesses take a dramatically different approach. They want to develop name recognition just like the biggest advertisers, but their ads have to do double duty. You know firsthand that each and every small business marketing investment has to deliver immediate and measurable market action. Each effort has to stir enough purchasing activity to offset the marketing cost involved. The balancing act is to create marketing communications that build a clear brand identity while also inspiring the necessary consumer action to deliver inquiries, generate leads, and prompt sales — now.

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