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Marketing: How to Win Customer

The number one priority of any small business should be the customer.  To be successful a business must be able to attract, satisfy and keep customers coming back. 

The term marketing implies many different things to many people.  However, marketing is defined as the activities associated with researching prospective and current customers and selling products and services. 

To win and retain customers, you need to fully understand who they are, what they want in the way of goods and services and how you can best satisfy their needs.  Marketing is just as much about researching customers as it is about selling. 

 

The Marketing Approach

Marketing is all about the customer and achieving a profitable sales volume.  Good marketing engages four key principles:

  1. Determine customer needs through market research
  2. Identify your competitive advantages and develop a marketing strategy
  3. Select specific markets to serve by target marketing
  4. Determine how to satisfy customer needs by identifying a marketing mix.

 

Market Research

Successful marketing requires timely and relevant market information. An inexpensive research program, based on questionnaires given to current or prospective customers, can often uncover dissatisfaction or possible new products or services.

Market research will also identify trends that affect sales and profitability. Population shifts, legal developments, and the local economic situation should be monitored to quickly identify problems and opportunities. It is also important to keep up with competitors' market strategies.
Doing basic market research is not that difficult.  The following resources will be helpful:

Type of Assistance
How to Find
Learn about demographics in your area
 

Marketing Strategy

A marketing strategy identifies customer groups which a particular business can better serve than its target competitors, and tailors product offerings, prices, distribution, promotional efforts, and services toward those segments. Ideally, the strategy should address unmet customer needs that offer adequate potential profitability. A good strategy helps a business focus on the target markets it can serve best.

Type of Assistance
How to Find
Develop a marketing plan
 

Target Marketing

Owners of small businesses usually have limited resources to spend on marketing. Concentrating their efforts on one or a few key market segments - target marketing - gets the most return from small investments. There are two methods used to segment a market:

  1. Geographical segmentation: Specializing in serving the needs of customers in a particular geographical area. For example, a neighborhood convenience store may send advertisements only to people living within one-half mile of the store.
  2. Customer segmentation: Identifying those people most likely to buy the product or service and targeting those groups.
Type of Assistance
How to Find
Learn how to target market
 

Managing the Market Mix

A good marketing strategy involves four key components which are combined (mixed) into an overall marketing plan.  The components are: Products and Services; Promotion;
Distribution and Pricing.

Products and Services: Product strategies may include concentrating on a narrow product line, developing a highly specialized product or service, or providing a product-service package containing unusually high-quality service.

Promotion: Promotion strategies include advertising and direct customer interaction. Good salesmanship is essential for small businesses because of their limited ability to spend on advertising. Good telephone book advertising is also important. Direct mail is an effective, low-cost medium available to small business.

Price: The right price is crucial for maximizing total revenue. Generally, higher prices mean lower volume and vice-versa; however, small businesses can often command higher prices because of their personalized service.

Distribution: The manufacturer and wholesaler must decide how to distribute their products. Working through established distributors or manufacturers' agents is generally easiest for small manufacturers. Small retailers should consider cost and traffic flow in site selection, especially since advertising and rent can be reciprocal: a low-cost, low-traffic location means spending more on advertising to build traffic.

Type of Assistance
How to Find
Develop a marketing mix plan for your business