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Marketing tips for small businesses

Running a profitable business requires equal amounts of motivation and organisation, as well as industry knowledge, skills and experience. But even if you have these attributes in abundance, without effective marketing, nobody will know your business exists. Read on to find out how to go about promoting your business and measure your results.

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1. Always do your market research

At the basis of any marketing activity should be a solid understanding of your market, including the size, main competitors, who your customers are and their buying and decision-making habits.

Members of the Forum can download a free guide to carrying out market research.

2. Write a marketing plan

A marketing plan includes a market analysis, your business objectives and what actions you intend to use to achieve them. This can help you to see the bigger picture, set realistic targets and ensure that your plan becomes reality.

Forum members can also download a free guide to marketing to help you draft a plan. 

3. Define your brand

More than just your logo, your brand embodies everything about your company and how you wish to be seen by customers, i.e. professional, trustworthy and approachable. Once you've got a brand, you should use it consistently across all your marketing and communications, from your business cards and website to the way in which you talk to customers. Read more about branding for small business.

4. Choose the right methods of promotion

Marketing can be daunting for most small business owners. Should you focus on free but time-consuming promotional techniques like PR and social media, or should you pay for advertising and leaflet drops, or employ telesales staff?

There are numerous options available to you, and the answer will usually involve a combination of a few methods, but this will depend on your business objectives and your market. Think, where do your customers find out information about the products and services they buy?

Your market research should tell you this and you should use this information to make sure that you have a presence where they are.

5. Invest in marketing skills

If you don't have any marketing experience, be sure to employ someone who does – either a member of staff or an external consultant – or invest in training for you and your staff.

6. Always measure your results

Marketing can cost your business money and time, so it's important to measure which marketing campaigns result in leads and sales and those which don't.

This will help you to make informed decisions when planning any future marketing activities. Small business marketing doesn't need to be difficult or expensive and, done well, it can result in increased sales and happier customers.

However, successful marketing does require you to research, plan and measure everything you do.

If you need support in marketing and growing your business, find out how membership of the Forum can help you - call us on 0845 130 1722.