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Basics of Marketing a Small Business

Marketing Is Vital... Don't skip it because you're nervous.

Marketing is vital for every small business. In order to succeed, you need to set your marketing goals and plan, assess your competition and business strengths and weaknesses, understand the needs of your target customers, decide what channels to use to reach your audience, create a marketing plan that includes social media—and then start doing it! If you are uncomfortable and need help, ask Your Marketing Team at Facets of Hospitality to help.

1. Set your marketing goals.

Set your marketing goals.

  • Define your audience. What type of people do you want to reach?

  • Define your budget. How much money are you willing to spend on reaching this audience?

  • Set a timeline for achieving each goal, and make sure that the goals are realistic given your timeline and budget. For example, if one of your goals is "increase sales by 25% in three months," then it may be unrealistic to expect all of the effort put into marketing to pay off right away; there may need to be additional follow-up campaigns after the initial push has subsided before any real results can be seen.

It's also important at this stage not only because it will help keep everything organized but also because it will give insight into what kind of return on investment (ROI) comes from various kinds of marketing efforts (discussed later in this article).

2. Assess your competition and business strengths and weaknesses.

Assess your competition and business strengths and weaknesses.

  • Is your business a direct competitor of other businesses? If so, how do you stack up against them? What are their strengths and weaknesses? Where are you lacking in comparison to them? Are there any major gaps in service or products that could be improved upon by either adding more or improving the quality of what you do offer.

  • How do those competitors compare to one another (if applicable)? Do any have some sort of edge over the others that would make it worth considering switching allegiances if given the chance (i.e., lower prices for higher quality product)?

  • Consider whether there's room for improvement within your own company as well—are there aspects of the business that could stand changing so that it operates more efficiently than before, thus making its operations more cost-effective overall while still generating revenue at an equal rate (or possibly even higher)?

3. Understand the needs of your target customers.

  • Find out what your target customers want and need.

  • Find out how you can help them achieve their goals.

  • Brainstorm ways to satisfy their needs.

4. Decide what channels to use to reach your audience.

Once you've identified your target audience and their interests, it's time to decide how best to reach them. Channels like social media and email marketing are popular options for small businesses today, but they're not always the most effective way of reaching your customers.

It's important to consider what channels will be most effective for your business at this stage; that is, those that are affordable and convenient while still resonating with the audience they're intended for. If you have a limited budget or aren't willing to invest much time in creating content for this channel right now, then it may not be worth pursuing just yet (or ever).

To help determine which platforms are right for you: Research. Review. Try them out. You know your customer... will you ever see your target customer using that platform?

5. Create a marketing plan that includes social media.

The best way to set goals is to define the problem before you start working on a solution.

When it comes to marketing, it's easy to get caught up in the "what other people are doing" trap. You might think you can't compete with the bigger companies out there or that your budget won't allow for social media marketing. Instead of worrying about what everyone else is doing, consider how you can accomplish something tangible within a reasonable timeframe (3-6 months). For example: "Create a Facebook page for my business and post at least twice per week." Or: "Increase my Twitter followers from 100 to 200 by March 1st."

6. Start doing it!

  • Make a plan, then follow through. Don’t be afraid to try new things and don’t be afraid to fail. You are the only one who can make your business successful, so don’t wait around for others to do the work for you.

  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help along the way either! Your friends and family may surprise you with their knowledge or willingness to help out in any way they can (and often at no cost).

The first step toward creating an effective marketing strategy is to understand the top digital channels for your business and develop a plan that helps you execute on these digital marketing platforms.

When it comes to creating your marketing strategy, don't jump the gun! Your first step should be to define the problem. This may sound obvious, but it's easy for some of us to set unrealistic goals and then get discouraged when we fall short of them.

Here are a few common goals that I see people setting for themselves in the fitness industry:

  • Lose 20 lbs. in one month

  • Do 50 pull-ups by next week

  • Run three miles without stopping by this weekend

In short...

Do it. The first step toward creating an effective marketing strategy is to understand the top digital channels for your business and develop a plan that helps you execute on these digital marketing platforms. Working with someone who speaks this language naturally is beneficial, but you can do it yourself as well.

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