Three biggest factors in small business success

Most small business owners make key errors in marketing their business.

You might think you’re doing a great job attracting customers, and you might be correct. Your current customers keep coming back, and your sales remain steady. But if you really want to drive incremental revenue, you will want to learn more about marketing strategies.

In my work with Michigan State University Extension, owning a marketing business and in previous roles at Fortune 500 companies, I have seen it all. I’ve seen the good, the bad and the non-existent. I have worked in various marketing roles for the past 20-plus years. My work also includes consulting with small business owners trying to solve everyday marketing issues. You too can have effective marketing by following three simple concepts.

First, have a product people actually want. I realize that this sounds, well, simple. But, this is the foundation of marketing. Say, for example, you own a hardware store. You might believe that your product includes nuts and bolts, but in reality, your product is time and place utility. If you’re not open when customers are ready to buy, you do not have time utility. If you do not carry what the customer wants, you do not have place utility. You need both time and place utility for a valued product.

Second, your price point should match the value expectations of your customers. Now, this sounds complicated, but it, too, is simple. Value is measured by the quality of the product divided by its price. In other words, the better the quality of the product (which includes service) the higher the price can be. Value is in the eye of the beholder and your price point should match the value expectations of your customers.

Third, have consistent marketing communications. This is where most business owners have the most trouble. Small business owners wear many hats. One of them is promoting the business. What happens most often is that the owner buys advertising from the radio station, and then from the newspaper. However, the ads that run do not contain the same, consistent message; or worse, they contain different messages. Furthermore, the ads don’t match the business website’s message. This is a common error that can be corrected with the owner’s involvement. The marketing message must be managed to convey the same meaning across the media landscape for each ad placement.

Understanding the three principles above will assist you in better marketing practices for your small business.

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