Marketing tips for small businesses

Effectively promote your business to create happy customers and encourage sales

Running a profitable business requires motivation, organisation, industry knowledge and skills and experience. However, even if you have all of these attributes, without effective marketing, nobody will know your business exists.

The following guidance details how you can ensure you are promoting your business correctly.

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.

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 a reality.

See nibusinessinfo’s guide on how to write a marketing plan.

Define your brand

Your brand embodies everything about your company and how you wish to be seen by customers, ie professional, trustworthy and approachable. Once you’ve got a brand, you should use it consistently across all marketing and communications, from your business cards and website to the way in which you talk to customers.

See nibusinessinfo’s guide on branding: the basics.

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?

The answer will usually involve a combination of a few methods, but this will depend on your business objectives and your market. 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.

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.

Always measure your results

Marketing can cost your business money and time, so it’s important to measure which 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, if 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.