A key measure of success for any business venture is its ability to generate revenue, therefore whatever type of business you own, marketing is likely on the forefront of your business plan. Creating a multi-faceted marketing plan that clearly defines how your business will reach its customers through various marketing strategies will help set your service or product apart from the competition.
There are plenty of ways to promote your business. From free grassroots efforts to paid advertising, finding the right mix of marketing strategies and tactics that work for your business can be achieved with market research and planning. By performing market research using tools like Reference USA, opens a new window, and creating and distributing surveys or conducting focus groups, you can gather information about your target audience, and determine the level of demand for your product or service in your community. This information will arm you with the data needed to develop a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis for your business. In addition, conducting marketing research can help you fine-tune which marketing messages will most effectively sell your product to your customers, and help you determine what types of marketing tactics are likely to be most successful for your business.
After conducting marketing research and developing your marketing plan, you’ll need to think about developing your branded marketing materials. There is a wide variety of marketing materials to consider creating and using in order to effectively promote your business, from simple solutions like business cards, brochures, and promotional items, to more complex tools such as developing a website or an app. The most important aspects of branding are to develop and use a standard “look” for your marketing materials and logo, as well as developing a clear, concise branding message and using that message consistently.
Considering the many ways consumers will interact with your business online is also essential. Establishing a free Google My Business (GMB), opens a new window account, utilizing social media, harnessing free and paid online media services or using Google Analytics, opens a new window in order to fully maximize your search engine optimization (SEO) are just the tip of the iceberg when considering the many options available to expand the online visibility of your business.
Developing a comprehensive public relations program can be both highly beneficial and cost-effective. Public relations efforts focus on creating awareness for your business. A sampling of public relations strategies to consider, include: developing and implementing a social media strategy, building relationships with key media and positioning yourself as an expert in your area of business (if applicable), writing a bylined article for a trade magazine, blogging, and developing promotional events.
Some additional marketing tactics that you may consider implementing include: direct mail, email marketing, paid advertising (in both print and online media outlets), developing contests or a frequent buyer program, offering coupons, sponsoring a local event that would reach your target audience, and networking at business functions or meetings such as local Chamber of Commerce events. Many of these tactics can be done on a shoestring budget, but depending on your level of expertise and budget, adding a marketing expert to your staff or hiring a freelancer or consultant may be worth considering.
The library has a wide variety of materials on marketing topics, including marketing research and planning, social media, sales, video marketing, website design, SEO, content marketing and other strategies. Check out the list below to see what resources are available free at the library to help you develop a marketing plan for your business. And as always, please contact a Reference Librarian, opens a new window if you have questions about using or locating any of our business resources.