A micro-business needs to be promoted in order to survive and grow. Whether you plan on building a multi-million dollar enterprise or just generate a bit of extra cash, the more effective you are at promoting and marketing the micro-business, the more successful it is likely to be.
Firstly, be aware that you will have to spend money. It needn’t be a lot, but you will have to invest on both a one-off and ongoing basis.
So what marketing do you need? Think of it as five different potential approaches; Infrastructure, Reactive, Proactive, Awareness and Existing Customer Management. The first four are related to finding new customers and are discussed below. Existing Customer Management is about managing and developing existing customers and is discussed further in Managing Existing Customers.
Infrastructure. This is the minimum you need and could include business cards, envelopes, packaging, letterheads for invoices and a website. Identify what you need to make your business appear serious and professional.
Some of these items are explored further in Essential Marketing Materials.
Reactive. You want people actively searching for your product or service to find you. Reactive marketing is ensuring you are in the places they will look. Consider how people buy – do they use Yellow Pages or online? Do they use other directories or see adverts? Is it recommendations from other people? It may be a combination of things, or one in particular. Whatever it is, that’s where you need to be, first and foremost.
Search engine optimisation to help your website rank higher would be considered as a form of Reactive marketing.
Proactive. If sales from Reactive purchases do not generate enough sales, you’ll need to become proactive and seek potential customers. This might involve, for example, direct mail, advertising in the local newspaper, or doing the rounds of networking clubs. Think about where potential buyers are likely to be found and target that place. It’s important to understand the buying process when identifying the most appropriate forms of Proactive marketing and establishing what it needs to say. This topic is explored further in Customer Purchasing Processes.
Another example of Proactive marketing would be pay-per-click advertising using Google Adwords. Where search engine optimisation is Reactive and sits in the background ready for when prospective purchasers look, pay-per-click can be switched on and off at will, depending on whether it’s needed or not.
Awareness Advertising. This is also referred to as brand building activity. The aim is to increase the chances of your micro-business becoming part of a prospective customer’s ‘consideration list’. So when they’re next looking to purchase, they’ll consider you because they’ve heard of you.
Finding the Right Approach
Make sure you have your Infrastructure and Reactive items in place first before spending money on Proactive items. A little investment in proper materials at this stage can go a long way so don’t skimp on it. Many designers and printers offer business start-up packages providing everything you need for a fixed price. It’ll also look very professional.
Put your name, website address and telephone number on everything you produce so people can find you and include a flyer or basic leaflet with everything you sell. The leaflet should mention your full product range and how to get in touch.
Proactive advertising is like a tap as it can be turned on and off when required or as budget allows. If you use a measurement system and keep track of costs, you’ll be well placed to know how much proactive communication you need to do and the most effective forms to use. Measurement of activities is discussed further in Measuring Marketing.
Awareness advertising can be an important approach where customers prefer familiar names. In these situations a fair proportion of the marketing budget may have to be spent on brand and awareness advertising. In effect, it increases the chances of Reactive and Proactive marketing activities being successful as the potential customer is already aware of your organisation when they move into the buying cycle. Companies such as solicitors and accountants often use a brand building approach as their reputation and levels of awareness are crucial in the selection process.
Having decided on the broad types of advertising needed, read Choosing the Right Media to help you select the individual media your micro-business should use.