Most small businesses are built to meet the needs of the communities around them. Many have built a small yet dedicated customer base. But with the easy availability of online shopping and big retailers around them, small businesses can find it challenging to get their message across and attract more customers. Most of the available marketing channels such as online marketing, billboards, TV & radio spots, etc can be expensive to use and complex to navigate. And in seeking high-tech and sophisticated solutions, we seem to have forgotten some simple and easy to community marketing channels. With the holiday season around the corner, these community marketing strategies can be very economical and help small business owners grow their sales and profits considerably.
Partner With Non-Competing Businesses

Study your neighboring businesses and your customer. What else could they be shopping for? If you are the neighborhood convenience store, it is highly probable that your customers are frequenting the nearby salon or garage. Identify some possible partners who are not your competitors and reach out to them. Form a working relationship and create a joint or cross-promotional marketing plan. You can access better advertising platforms working together than on your own, like local TV time or billboards. Pool your resources.

Partner With the Local Newspaper or Newsletter

Almost every city has a local newspaper or newsletter. Partner with them and place informational spots. These spots are very economic. They are delivered to the people who are often your customers. Use this local connection to spread awareness about your business and the service you offer.  More often than not, people prefer to shop within their communities for daily necessities and services. The local newspaper or Newsletter can be a simple way to create a lasting connection.

Hold a Raffle or a Contest

Customers love contests and freebies. Have you noticed how quickly the “samples” vanish? So design a few promotions around raffles and contests. Proactively engage your customers. Try to make the contests unique. For example, you could host an eating contest (hot dogs, noodles, pizza, burgers, etc.) or hold a beauty contests. Contests like this will attract customers and increase customer recall. You might even get mentioned in the local news or newspaper creating even more free publicity.

Adopt a Local Charity or Educational Institution

Charitable activities can add a great deal of publicity to a small business. Partner up with a local charity and support their efforts through donations or labor. You can also check out local educational institutions such as schools and community colleges. See what you can do to help. It could be help a soup kitchen drive or the middle school fund drive. Promote the collaboration to their network and yours so that it creates a win-win. This positive collaboration will help you create a lot of goodwill that will translate to increased customer loyalty and profits.

Keep your Website Relevant

Big or small, almost every business has a website these days. The trouble is that they are often cluttered and out of date. A website can be a great tool for promoting a business, if used wisely. You need to make sure that the website is current and reflects not only what is currently happening at the store, but also any future events or promotions. This will keep the website relevant and help promote the business.

Don't forget to make sure that your customers have a fun, positive experience. Business owners, especially small and medium ones, often do not adequately plan ahead. So if there is increased customer traffic, they are not prepared to deal with it leaving customers harried and unhappy. Plan ahead, hire a few extra hands, and make sure that every customer who comes in feels appreciated and taken care of. These are the experiences that a customer will remember, return for, and recommend.

Do you have suggestions that can be added to this list? If so, comment below!


 
 
 
 
If you are wonder how to start advertising your business using Google AdWords, the below infographic could show you how. This information can help you to make right decisions while arranging the first steps in your advertising campaign. It shows the first issues you will face and provide decisions.
 
 
Being able to leverage social media for success in business may seem daunting if the goal or path is not clear. Hence,  below is a roadmap that can guide you towards achieving social media success. In the weeks to come I will be posting resources that will be educational & provide more guidance. 
Social Media Roadmap
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A comprehensive and well designed marketing plan is critical for the success of any business. Following up on my earlier post, below are some resources and links for Part 1: Overview Of Strategy.

PART 1: OVERVIEW OF STRATEGY

A.   MISSION: (A business’s Mission Statement is a constant reminder to its employees of why the business exists and what its founders envisioned when they put their efforts, reputation, experience & fortune at risk to breathe life into their dreams. A business that has lost sight of its Mission Statement has started its slippery slope to failure.  
For help: How to Write Your Mission Statement; Top 10 Company Mission Statements; 5 Tips for a Useful Mission Statement) 

 



B.   VISION: A vision statement for a business focuses on what they intend to be. It is simply a description of the “what,” meaning, what the business intends to become. 
For help: Best Examples of a Vision Statement; Corporate Vision Statements; DEFINING YOUR COMPANY'S VISION)

 

C.    VALUES: A value statement is an expression of a company's or individual's core beliefs. 

For help: What Is a Value Statement?; Make Your Values Mean Something; Develop Your Value Statements for Your Strategic Framework)



Overview Of Strategy
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A marketing plan should not be something you put together at the last minute as an afterthought. After having worked with numerous small businesses and Managers, I have realized that in the larger scheme of things from a small business owner's perspective, while marketing is an important part of success, it is not often high on the to-do list. Allocating funds for rest, utilities, labor, day to day operations, often takes precedence over marketing. Most SMB owners don't know enough to develop a good marketing plan. So, even if they want to do it right, they may not have the requisite expertise to do it in the way that it will have any positive impact on their bottom line. 
Developing an effective marketing plan does not happen by accident. A lot of thought and effort goes into it. An effective marketing plan has to be comprehensive, integrated with the day to day operations and takes a 360 perspective of the business. It is also important to remember that any marketing plan is a living document, something which will need to be adjusted based on the changing market scenario. 
Below, are, what I believe the key components of an effective marketing plan. It is also available in PDF form for you to download and develop it.

MARKETING PLAN TEMPLATE


PART 1: OVERVIEW OF STRATEGY
  • MISSION
  • VISION
  • VALUES

PART 2: GOALS & TARGETS
  • MARKETING GOALS
  • RESEARCH
  • BRANDING
  • NICHE MARKETS
  • SALES TARGETS

PART 3: MARKET ANALYSIS
  • TARGET MARKETS
  • DEMOGRAPHICS
  • COMPETITION
  • MARKET TRENDS
  • P.E.S.T. ANALYSIS
  • S.W.O.T. ANALYSIS

PART 4: MARKETING STRATEGY
  • PRODUCT DESIGN
  • PRICING STRATEGY
  • CATALOGS
  • ADVERTISING
  • PUBLICITY
  • ONLINE MARKETING
  • PROMOTIONS
  • TRADE SHOWS
  • SALES TEAMS

PART 5: MARKETING BUDGET
  • ASSUMPTIONS 
  • PROJECTIONS

Over the coming weeks, I will elaborate and provide links to resources for some of the sub-headings so that you can get more help in developing a comprehensive, living & effective marketing plan. Please do contact me if you need any kind of help customizing the given marketing plan to your specific needs.
Marketing Plan Template
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File Type: pdf
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