Marketing for Small Businesses

What's it about?

See also Entrepreneurship & Innovation and Business & Marketing Strategies Retreat.

Small businesses don't have the money or the resources for performing extensive market surveys, analyzing market sectors or conducting high profile advertising campaigns.

So how do you find customers?

This workshop covers alternative, highly targeted (and inexpensive) techniques for finding prospects, and how to turn them into loyal and profitable customers. We also brainstorm specific approaches the may benefit your business now.

Deciding who your customers are. Having a clear idea of who your ideal customer is, and understanding what your customers want, what problems they wish to solve, and what concerns them.

USP. What can you offer your customer that benefits them the most? It is not always the uniqueness of your product, but perhaps the way you sell it (extended warranty? reliability of service? adaptability? etc.)

Your Elevator Pitch. Too often, a small business will try to present their product or service using a standard Powerpoint presentation that simply bores the prospective buyer. Your presentation must be short and to the point, based entirely on the prime benefit(s) to the customer.

Your Competitors. How are your competitors succeeding or failing? You can learn from your competitors, especially when they are doing well. Some competitors can even (wholesale) become customers or collaborative partners.

Finding Customers. Advertising is expensive and wasteful. There are far better, far more direct ways to find customers. Small businesses especially usually depend on a few good quality customers rather than volume. (Nevertheless, the approaches and techniques we discuss applies equally well for high-volume e-commerce products.) In my own business, I tend to ignore retail companies that sell low price items to the general public. This course may be suitable for them with only a few adaptations, but the low profitability doesn't warrant the effort to target these companies.

Similarly, your own business needs to be fairly selective about who you sell to. Satisfying a customer properly takes a lot of effort. Make sure you choose the right customers, who won't waste your time, who will be profitable and who will buy from you regularly over time.

Some of the techniques covered include: networking, seminars and articles, direct mail (and other 'direct' approaches), affiliates and alliances, referrals, PR, 'viral' marketing, and working with trade resellers.

Customer Service. Although not traditionally associated with marketing, how you satisfy your customer is probably your most powerful marketing tool. Dissatisfied customers, in particular, are a valuable source of feedback. You must encourage customers to complain! And reward them. It is also important to avoid upsetting a customer. Through word of mouth, a dissatisfied customer will spread bad publicity to four times more people than a satisfied customer will recommend your company.

Branding. Branding for a small business is quite different from that of a corporate, despite a few important overlaps. We discuss the alternative concept of authority (or expertise). By becoming an authority in your field, you develop a personal brand as a result of your natural expertise and knowledge.

Who benefits the most?

Business Owners and Sales & Marketing Directors, along with key members of the sales & marketing team.

What are the outcomes?

A clear understanding of what you are actually selling and who your customers really are. Some practical approaches to finding new customers and very focused ideas on how to create value out of your existing customers.

Course Duration

2 days (ideally a week apart, so that you can begin to apply the techniques, have time to think about your business and its elevator pitch, and to gather information about customers and competitors). This could be followed up about a month or two later with a Marketing Strategy retreat (1-2 days) to focus on practical campaigns.