Your business may be the best in its class, but without customers, your reputation doesn’t matter. Even if you manage to attract customers, can you retain them while winning new ones? Customer retention and expansion are important factors when you want your small business to become successful and remain that way. That’s where marketing comes in. According to the American Marketing Association, “Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.” Sounds a bit intimidating, doesn’t it?
But fear not. You don’t have to close up shop for three years while you study for your marketing degree at Harvard or put your home in hock to pay for a marketing department. Below are a few options you can use to increase your marketing effectiveness:
1. Hire a consultant. You’ll find plenty of former corporate marketing gurus who have been downsized or just got tired of the corporate rat race and decided to start their own businesses. Like you, they are entrepreneurs, and their success depends on providing value to their clients.
2. Hire freelancers. No matter which marketing method you plan to use, whether it’s direct mail, digital, Internet eCommerce or all of the above and more, there are freelancers available who have the expertise and are willing to take on single assignments. Again, many are corporate refugees and many are just skilled artists, designers and even idea people whose goal is to make a living by providing excellent service.
3. Outsource your marketing. This is the best option in my opinion, but it may also be the most expensive option. By putting your marketing function into the hands of a full-service outsourcer, you have access to the same expertise your larger competitors have, including performance tracking and analytics. An outsourcer can also provide you with a holistic, rather than a piecemeal approach, not to mention the benefit of knowing what will work best for your particular business.
4. Do it yourself or hire a friend or in-law. Often the cheapest and most common alternative, but the only guarantee here is that you will get what you pay for.
No matter how successful your business, you need to keep the customers you have and attract new ones. As an entrepreneur, you must spend the great majority of your time running the business and making sure the highest quality products and services are being provided. Effective marketing is a key component of success, but implementing a marketing campaign can pose many challenges for the uninitiated. By selecting the right approach for your marketing efforts, you’ll be one step closer to the success you so richly deserve.