Small Business Marketing Tools to Get You Free Publicity

As far as small business marketing goes, free publicity is gold. It’s not just that you’re getting your company name to the public without having to pay for it; it’s that the news publicity – whether it’s in a magazine, newspaper, or online, weighs more heavily in your prospective customers minds. Even as skepticism reigns, people see information printed by news-type sources (whether in print or online) as being more truthful, more objective, than information that’s paid for by the company (advertising).

But simply sending out a press kit to your local news media won’t guarantee you that free publicity. The cardinal rule you have to follow is that your information must be newsworthy. One of the ways that news media keep their reputation as objective sources of information is that they are – they’re not going to print a thinly-veiled ad for your product or service as a news piece. But if you write a release that accomplishes both goals – offering the news media an interesting, informational story and letting potential customers get to know your product or service – that’s where free publicity really pays off.

To start, you need to develop a press kit as a standard component of your small business marketing materials. Your press kit should include:

Small business marketing press kit component 1: A letter to the editor of the newspaper (or magazine, or internet site) pitching your press release as a story idea. Many components of your press kit can be recycled, but the letter to the editor should change every time to send out a new press release.

Small business marketing press kit component 2: The press release. Your press release is where the journalist will look to find most of the information for her story. In the release, you should describe the news item (the launch of a new product that will revolutionize consumer’s lives, for example). Feel free to quote yourself and others in the press release expounding on the issue (that way the journalist won’t have to contact you or others for quotes when she’s writing the story).

Small business marketing press kit component 3: Your business card. Make it easy for the journalist to contact you.

Small business marketing press kit component 4: Your corporate bio. Journalists often like to add background information into their stories; make it easy by including a corporate bio that offers the important information about your business, including who founded it and when, location, and other interesting tidbits.

Small business marketing press kit component 5: Relevant photos. The keyword here is relevant: include photos of the topic your press release is about. If it’s a new product, offer some interesting photos. If it’s a new day care service, offer some pictures of the employees with the kids. Use photos that will make your story more compelling.

Small business marketing press kit component 6: Testimonials. It can be a great strategy to build quotations from current and past customers right into your press release. But even when you do that, don’t be shy about adding more.

Small business marketing press kit component 7: A data sheet for the relevant product or service. A data sheet with give the details about your product or service (that’s being covered in the press release). Relevant details include pricing, components, materials, size, weight, and part number – if applicable.

You should put all seven small business marketing components of your press kit into a folder – ideally one with your logo on the front to finish off the presentation.

Once you’ve created an appropriate small business marketing press kit, you can think about the kind of media outlets that you want to target. That small business marketing decision should be based on where your customers are – are they online, reading the local daily, or a national newsmagazine? Free publicity won’t mean much if it’s not picked up by your target audience – your prospective customers.

Once you’ve decided the media outlet that you want to target, find out who the managing editor is and send a personalized press kit to her. Or, if the publication is very large, send a personalized press kit to the journalist in charge of your area (for example, the Food journalist if your product is gourmet brownies or the Technology journalist if your product is computer software). You can also send out a press release for mass distribution using one of many online press release wires.

7 Steps to Creating a Successful Small Business Marketing Plan

Small business marketing is all about determining the needs of your target market and then providing solutions to meet those needs.

These 7 steps are aimed at entrepreneurs starting a small business and those who want to create a successful small business marketing plan for an existing business.
Most small business promotions focus on how great their products and services are. Instead, you should educate your target market consistently and start building a relationship that will establish your credibility and trust. It is important to develop a marketing mindset. “Think Marketing” your products and services all of the time. It is very important to consistently market your products and services. Don’t fall into the trap of stop and go marketing. Some small business owners only market when sales are down.

You can’t have a successful small business without having a successful small business marketing plan. Effective small business marketing is the way to growth and profits

If you’re a small business owner or you want to know how to start a small business in the future, this simple 7-step plan will help you understand your business and your target market.

How to Start a Small Business Marketing Plan: 7 Steps
Begin the process by answering these questions:

1) Who — Who specifically is your target market? Who is your ideal client? What research can you do to find out more about your target market?

2) What — What products and services do your ideal clients want and need? What does your product and service do for your ideal client? What problems does your product solve for your customer? What are the solutions that your ideal client is looking for? What is your area of specialty that will differentiate you in the marketplace? What are the industry trends? What type of message will your ideal client likely respond to? What are you ultimately selling? For example: Are you selling eye glasses or are you selling vision? What is your unique mix of products and services? What is your pricing strategy?

3) Where — Where is your ideal client? Where is your customer located geographically? Where will you position yourself so they can easily find you? Where are the best places to get your marketing message to them? Will you speak to groups, hold seminars, or write a blog, newsletters or articles?
4) When — How frequently does your target market need to hear your marketing message? When are they most likely to buy your products and services?

5) Why — Why are you in business? Why do customers or clients buy from you? Why should they choose your product or service over your competition?

6) How — How does your customer buy your product or service? How are you going to reach potential buyers for your services and products? How will you communicate your marketing message? How will you provide customers or clients with the information they need to make their buying decision?

7) Marketing Mindset – Practice mastering a Marketing Mindset and you will be on the path to a profitable small business.

With these 7 steps, you can take action towards starting a small business marketing plan that targets new customers. “Marketing is about testing and evaluating your return on investment. But it’s primarily about helping people get what they want.” Master these small business marketing steps and you will be on the path to more profit and success as a business owner.

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

Internet and Small Business

Technology has played an imperative role in business operations. The advent of internet has given a new methodology to conduct business faster in a cost effective way in a limited time and space.

Internet is wrapped up with thousands of interconnected networks connected worldwide. The deployment of Internet in business has given rise to perform business worldwide to unlimited audience and it is one of the best methods for globalizing business. Internet is a powerful tool for winning a business strategy that assists companies to compete with their competitors and to improve customer satisfaction and hence internet business model has been formulated to assist companies to choose the right model at the right time.

Internet business is simply not designing websites to promote the products it has its unique process to automate. Internet business helps manufacturers to understand the customer’s wants and needs by understanding their behavior when they visit company websites or research any relevant information and this in-turn helps manufacturers and marketers to produce customize and personalize product.

Internet business has changed the marketing practices of company to the great extent and hence marketers need to be more and more proactive and creative to reach and convince their audience to buy products.

Today many companies have also set up extranets with their suppliers to facilitate information exchange, transactions and payments. Internet business has given birth to e-commerce which is more and more specific when compared to internet business or e-business. The term e-commerce encourages companies to sell their products or services through internet. To be more precise about internet business; it is simply performing business using internet for worldwide audience in order to globalize business.

Advantages of Internet Business – Internet Business has its unique advantages

There is no need of physical location and hence you don’t need to have your own or rent place for starting up business as how traditional business requires.

Of course you need location that is DOMAIN NAME for website registration and its very cheap you can get for about $5 to $25 with free web hosting service.

You need website for selling your product or service. If you know programming and designing you can always do it on your own or you can hire a web developer and/or designer based on your requirement or even you can become an affiliate of some site which needs no website since your merchant will provide you website.

You can advertise your products or services for free in most of the websites say free classified advertisement site.

Since internet works on the principle of 24×7 you can reach your customer at any time.

Internet business is not geographic specific and hence you can reach global audience.

Disadvantages of Internet Business -Of course, internet has major advantages but it has some disadvantages too.

Through internet it is very difficult for the user to recognize what is genuine and what is not because users will not have the ‘Touch and feel’ of some product before they buy.

Internet makes you feel isolate and hence it separates manufacturer and customer, and this ultimately end-up in lack of trust between two parties.

It is also difficult for the user to choose the product as there may be many products with different varieties advertise through internet.

Business Models:

Every Business needs model to run its business and operations. When it comes to internet it is not that companies have design or built their own models Most of the companies sustain with the following business models through internet.

Products

Professional Services

Information Business

Internet profession

E-Publishing

E-Advertising

Let’s understand the above six proven internet business model.

Products: This Internet business model includes stuffs like electronic goods, books, computer hardware and software, household, jewelry, etc. Companies may already use direct marketing to market its product.

Adopting this model is most inexpensive method to communicate universally, and consumers can look into the product through company’s website or online catalogue as it cost only the fraction of what printed catalogue cost and the duplication is achieved virtually. The vital part is to note that internet is not the business strategy. However, it helps business to formulate strategy more effectively and efficiently. These are none other than the Internet or Online retailer.

Professional/Specialized Services: This model includes Professional services such as accountants, consultants, architects etc. The use of technology has encouraged service business to devise innovative strategies to support the very nature of the business.

Service industry advertise its services electronically that is through internet and since internet reaches global audience by breaking the geographic barriers and hence today service sectors enjoy massive profit and growth since internet has out-performed the traditional advertising and it directly reaches its prospective audience.

Information business: This E-business model is for those who gather, create and sell knowledge. Internet has given a new room for this kind of business. Today people use internet for many reasons and information search through internet ranks top. Many netpreneur today adopted this business methodology and has created a success because there is lot of scope for business in this digital era and information business is one such businesses which grows with a full pace.

Internet Careers: Many people have started making careers in internet itself. This business model includes graphic artist, web designers and developers, software programmers, computer and software trainers through online, Internet marketing professionals etc. This is considered as fastest growing business and many people have started business model.

Electronic Publishing: Today people can find free news, magazines, and newsletters in the digital format. In this business model any factual written material can be published in digital format and uploaded in the website. Online or Electronic publishing is exploding since its too cost effective when compared to the printed version of newspapers, magazines, newsletters etc. There are many innovative ways that a company can generate revenue from this business model.

E-Advertising: Electronic advertising, the business model which grows constantly and is expected to out-perform the traditional advertising methods. From this business model companies can simply sell advertising space on the web which in turn generates a mutual understanding to both the parties (advertisers and publishers).

Advertisers get revenue by posting advertisement in their website and publishers gets traffic to his website and/or brand awareness of his (publishers) product through advertisement. This is really a big business and one can monetize his/her website (if available) by just selling the website space.

The above mentioned internet business model has been adopted by many companies and have created a history in this digital era. Thus internet has become the right source and a powerful tool for the businesses to create a new and innovative business strategy in order to sustain the market.

Different authors have defined Internet business models in a different manner but the actual proposition and meaning is same. To see the different internet business model terms have a look at this article. Read Here

As a Wannabe internet business you have to analyze which internet business model is best for you or where you actually fit in the whole scenario.