Why Marketing Is Crucial For Small Businesses

I believe marketing is crucial to the success of small businesses. With half of small businesses not surviving beyond 5 years, I think small businesses cannot afford not to have a marketing strategy for their business. I don’t think you need to spend lots of money on marketing, but I do think that if your business is to not just survive, but be profitable, then you have to do the basics.

Marketing is crucial for small biz

That’s a pretty bold statement, I know, but wait, I can back it up… Give me a few minutes of your time, and let’s see if you agree.

So why exactly is marketing so important for small businesses?

Well, firstly let’s look at what marketing is.

The official definition from The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) is:

“Marketing is the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably.”

That’s quite a mouthful, so let me help break it down, and put it in plain English. Firstly, let’s look at the Oxford dictionary definition of the key words:

process” – A series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular end

identifying” – Establish or indicate who or what (someone or something) is

anticipating” – Regard as probable, expect or predict

satisfying” – Meet the expectations, needs, or desires of (someone)

requirements” – A thing that is needed or wanted

profitably” – In a way that yields profit or financial gain

So put another way:

Marketing is a series of steps that you take to understand and predict what your customers want and need, and then now that you understand what they want and need, you can meet their expectations, and give them what they want, whilst making money for your business.

That sounds like a win/ win to me!

So why do so many small business owners feel “icky” about marketing to their customers?

Hopefully now you can see that marketing isn’t something to be avoided, but is something to be embraced if you want to run a profitable business, whilst satisfying the needs of your customers.

OK, so now that we’ve established what marketing is, and we know that marketing is a good and important part of our business, let’s look at an example of marketing in real life.

Well, let’s start by going back to the definition.

“Marketing is the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably.”

Marketing Strategy

So what we need first is a process, a series of steps or what I call a Marketing Strategy. A marketing strategy is essentially a plan that will help you achieve your marketing goals.

So let’s say that you’re a wedding photographer based in London, and your goal is to have 6 weddings booked a month in the next 3 months, and you’re currently only booking 2 a month.

Your marketing strategy will outline how you go from 2 to 6 clients a month.

Identify

In order to do this, you need to understand your target audience, which in this case is couples getting married in London in the next 3 months. You need to be able to answer questions like:

  • What kinds of images are you looking for?
  • What photos are most important to you?
  • How many people are in your wedding party and how many guests will you have?
  • Who are the most important people in your wedding and are there any special relationships to be aware of?
  • What is the most anticipated moment of your wedding day?

The answers to these questions will help you identify your target audience, and exactly what product and services they want. I just want to give a word of caution here, your target audience won’t be ALL couples getting married in London in the next 3 months. These questions will help you sift through the crowd to find your ideal customer.

As an example, let’s say your style of wedding photography is modern and fun, and you get approached by a couple that are after a more traditional, formal style. You’ll know that they are not a good fit for you, and you won’t waste their time and yours.

One thing I want to pull out to you guys is that in this “identify” section you’re dealing with what your customer knows he or she wants. This is different to the next section.

OK, so you’ve now identified your target audience, and you’ve identified what products and services they need, so it’s that overlap of what they want and need and the products and customized services that you offer that is the sweet spot.

Anticipate

Let’s move on to anticipating:

So this stage of the marketing process is about having a smart strategy that will anticipate the needs of your target customer. This means that your product or service is specifically targeted to your customer, the language you use in describing your product or service is language that resonates with your customer. Don’t forget that although the customers are actually buying a physical product or a service, what they’re actually buying are solutions to their problems.

An excellent description I read of anticipating your customer’s needs can be found here:

Anticipating customer needs, as opposed to identifying them, means finding out what your customers desire when they themselves can’t name those desires. This central marketing process depends upon careful listening and observation, because a customer can never tell you that they are passionate about something they’ve never seen, touched or even heard of.

So in the case of the wedding photographer, you would want to be a good listener, and take the time to identify and anticipate your customer’s needs. This might be as simple as recommending to the bride and groom that they designate a member of the bridal party to help co-ordinate the photos so that they don’t have to worry about that on the day. Or you might have some recommendations for florists or make up artists that you know provide excellent service.

Satisfy

This is third step in the marketing process and is the part where you get your customers to fall in love with your product or service, come back for more, and then tell their friends all about you.

So if we take our example of the wedding photographer, some ways that he or she can satisfy their customers is by really taking care of them and going the extra mile. Examples of this might be:

  • On the day, being peaceful, confident, efficient and cheerful and helping everyone relax and have fun
  • Getting the photos back to the couple earlier than they expected
  • Delivering beautiful, excellent quality photos
  • Gifting the bridal couple with a honeymoon package (suntan lotion, candles, packing checklist etc).

You also need a plan for how to stay in touch with your customers. You know the saying “out of site = out of mind.” Well, that’s true in marketing as well.

So if you’re a wedding photographer and looking for repeat business, you could offer a discount to existing customers for an anniversary portrait or a family portrait of their growing family.

You would also want to ask for testimonials that you can use on your website, and in your promotional material.

OK, so we’ve looked at exactly what marketing is, and I’ve given you some practical examples of how you can use marketing to help your small business be profitable, and have happy, loyal customers.

If you want to take that next step, and develop your marketing strategy, get in touch. I’d love to help you.