The fundamental five Ps of marketing are the best place to start looking for gaps in your small business marketing plan.
• Product. Your product--which also includes the service offered in service businesses--should solve an urgent need or pain for the customer. Your product needs the right features: It should be easy to use, visually interesting, and well-packaged. If you own a catering business, the team delivering the service as well as the food, are all considered the “product.” Make sure they have matching uniforms and are trained in how to speak to the customers, and ensure the food is nicely plated and properly served. Presentation is everything.
• Place. For local businesses, place matters. Often store-front businesses pay for prime locations so they can have the needed foot traffic. Doing your research is important. You want to be located on a highly coveted corridor, in a location that provides you easy access to the target customer. A residential cleaning company might open shop in a neighborhood instead of a business district. However, if you’re focused on corporate clients, then a commercial district is where you want to be. Not having the right location is a reason that many small businesses fail.
• Promotion. Write this down! Without proper promotion to attract your target customer, you won’t grow your revenue. Good promotion starts with a budget and marketing plan. Today, social media provides small businesses low-cost opportunities for marketing. If your customer is hanging out on Facebook and Twitter, you need to be there too, building a relationship that you will eventually be able to turn into commerce.
• Price. When pricing your product you must know four things: your cost, what the competition is charging, the standard markup or profit margin in your industry, and the value to the customer. Ask yourself this key question: “What will it cost the customer to not have what I’m offering?” If you can’t determine a perceived value, then you need to redesign or reposition your product. And don’t compete on price. A customer who’s deciding solely based on price is not a long-term customer and will switch to a neighboring business for just a few cents less.
• Profit. Profit is how we keep score in business. Specifically, it’s the difference between your cost of goods or services and the price you’re charging the customer. It allows you to grow the business, pay employees, and donate a few times a year to your favorite charities. Be sure you understand the margins typical for your industry. If you’re a food business, you would average a 20 percent margin, while a clothing retailer averages 50 percent. There are no hard rules on this, if you run your business efficiently, there’s no limit to your financial success.