Small Business Marketing – The Power of a Market Review

Conducting a market review is one of the most important steps in the small business marketing process as it provides together with a business review the information you need to create a dynamic marketing plan. All big businesses conduct these reviews as they know it can save time and money for their business.

A market review does not have to be complicated and a lot will depend on what information you can source. The important factor regarding a market review is to understand the key elements of your market and how these elements can affect your business now and in the future.

The key elements you need to look at when conducting a market review for your small business include:

Size of Market
Your market is simply the overall industry in which you compete. For example if you sell juice then you compete in the Beverage Market. If you sell holidays as a travel agent then you compete in the Tourism Market. Analyzing the size of your market can tell you whether it is growing or declining, help you to identify growth opportunities and for a new small business can determine if the market is large enough to compete in and operate a profitable business. There are many sources you can use to gather information on the size of your market and these include trade magazines, industry associations, search engines and local government websites and resources.

Market Segment Analysis

Segmentation is a process that looks at the total market and then divides the products or services into broad groups that have similar characteristics. In the examples above, whilst the total market is beverages, the segment that is the most important to a juice manufacturer is the Juice Segment. Looking at the total beverage market today throughout the world the leading soft drink manufacturers have entered many of the market segments such as bottled water to expand their business. Market segment analysis also helps you to determine where your small business marketing efforts should be concentrated.

Distribution Channel Analysis
A distribution channel is the way in which your product or service is made available to your customers so they can purchase it. Examples are supermarkets, personal selling (face to face selling), distributors and the internet. Analyzing the sales of each distribution channel in your market enables you to identify which channels are the most important for you to compete in to grow your business.

Market Trends
A trend is any significant change to your market that your business may need to respond to. Examples of market trends include changes to the economy, changing customer demographics, social and global factors (to name a few). If you conduct business in the USA at the moment or are intending to compete in the USA then the concerns about a possible recession and how it could affect your small business needs to be identified so action plans can be put in place to minimize the impact.

Market Seasonality
If a product or service is seasonal it means that the majority of the sales occur at one or a few times a year. Tax accountants obviously have increased sales when the end of the financial year occurs and tax returns and other government reporting are required. Understanding market seasonality factors can lead to your small business maximizing sales through this period and also may highlight opportunities to spread your sales throughout the year.

Competitor Analysis
Your key competitors need to be analyzed in order for you to identify their key strengths and weaknesses and how they compare to your own small business. Reviewing this area means that you can be smarter with your marketing efforts and be proactive against their weaknesses and of course defend against their strengths. One tip that all big businesses do is to have a competitor file with examples of their marketing activities, products or services.

Big businesses know the value of reviewing the market in which they compete and you can to. Remember you can start slowly and just review one section at a time and then put in place activities or make business decisions based on the review to grow your small business.

© Marketing for Business Success Pty Ltd 2008

Top 6 Tips for Small Business Looking To Embrace Social Media Marketing

For small businesses, social media marketing is essential. It can be the difference between having a successful enterprise or a struggling trade. This is due to the large potential that social media marketing presents.

Unlike multinational organisations, small sized businesses do not have huge marketing budgets to conduct sufficient market research. As a result, social media offers the opportunity for small businesses to directly communicate with customers and discuss all aspects of the business. Businesses can gain vital information relating to their services, and in return, market products and see where improvements can be made.

However, using social media marketing is not as simple as logging into Facebook or Twitter and posting comments. Utilising these websites from a business prospective requires a careful balance of time and strategy. Here are six tips for small businesses looking to embrace social media marketing.

Plan an effective strategy– Before you create a website that bundles all social media websites that you’re planning to sign up to, outline key targets and the ways needed to employ them. Decide which social media websites to use, who within the company will carry it out and what method will be used to assess the progress of the campaign.

Locate your customers– Conduct market research to establish which social media websites your customers predominantly use. For potential customers, search keywords and topics relating to your business to find out relevant blogs and forums to join and communicate.

Time management – As social media marketing can be very time consuming, it is important to find enough time during the business day to communicate with customers and build effective relationships. Customers who see regular activity or have their queries and questions answered are more likely to follow the business and recommend their services. Remember though; don’t just market your business, listen to what your customers have to say.

Be the specialist– Pass on useful information and give solutions that will help customers. This will not only show you’re an expert in your industry, but it will also help build a rapport between you and your customers.

Integrate personality – The best way to maintain relationships is to write honestly and openly. Customers are more willing to communicate with people they like as opposed to business representatives. Another way of incorporating personality is to display a ‘human’ picture and not just the business logo. You should use the same personality when you create a website for your business, so people will recognise the brand.

Offer incentives– Make online customers feel as though they are valuable by offering exclusive discounts and promotions. This will help sustain interest and ensure customers feel integrated in the business.

By implementing these tips, small businesses can effectively promote and expand their online brand, and in the long run, gain more customer awareness. Well planned social media marketing will leave customers talking and consequently; they will be more likely to buy into the brand. Ultimately the key to success is hard work. Posting comments now and again, will only lead to customers disregarding the business, whereas, active weekly posts will result in an online presence that customers can trust and depend on.

Small Business Marketing FAQs

What is a small business? The government has introduced certain criteria including the number of employees, annual receipts, affiliates and other applicable factors to identify a small business. It can be quickly determined by using SBA’s NAICS (North American Industry Classification System) Lookup. Enter the business description; NAICS will locate the business type in the resulting table.

What is marketing? Marketing refers to the commercial processes involved in promoting, selling and distributing a product or service.

What does marketing involve? Marketing is an organizing tool. The four basic aspects of marketing include the four Ps such as product, price, promote and provide. It involves market research, formulating strategy and selling based on two important principles. The first principle states that all company policies and activities should be directed toward satisfying customer needs. The second is that profitable sales volume is more important than maximum sales volume.

What is marketing strategy? Marketing strategy is the summary of the marketing goals. It is the formulation of the methods used to achieve the marketing objective.

What are the major constraints for small business marketing? The major constraints for small business marketing include budget limitations, lack of adequate resources and tough competition.

What are the important collateral marketing materials? Collateral marketing materials consist of printed marketing materials. They include brochures, business cards and news letters.

What is the importance of advertising in small business marketing? Advertising plays an important role in small business marketing. It helps to influence people with attractive marketing materials such as banners, sign boards, magazine and directory ads as well as trade booth displays.

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