Effective local marketing strategies for SMBs

Most small-business owners should have the same basic question when it comes to their marketing budget: “How can I create an effective marketing strategy to maximize my marketing dollars and have a substantial return on investment?” Your marketing strategy should help you earn money, not spend it. It is a process that allows you to concentrate your limited resources on your greatest opportunities – in order to increase sales and to achieve a sustainable competitive advantage in your industry. Too many small businesses focus on the cost factor of marketing. The first question they tend to ask is, “How much does that cost?” rather than “Will this effectively target my ideal customer?”

As a small-business owner with limited dollars, you must focus on your target market. Forget the idea that everyone in interested in your products and/or services. They're not. The reality is that only people who feel they need your products and/or services will be interested in them.

As a result, the main goal of developing your business marketing strategy is identifying your ideal customer and then focusing your efforts on this target customer. Find out where they hang out, how they access information, what their buying habits are.

For example, let’s focus on a hip surfing, snorkeling and paddle-boarding company and build these ideas around this strategy. Who is the ideal customer for this type of business? Let’s say it’s a young adult with expendable income who lives near the beach and loves to go surfing, snorkeling and paddle-boarding in their spare time.

Where do these people hang out? They are frequently at the beach using the equipment for their particular sport. They generally will be very active individuals with a busy social life. These are young adults, so they will be accessing most of their information over their phones and other mobile devices.

Because of this, digital advertising, text-messaging services, e-mail, Facebook and Twitter are great ways to reach this active audience. Its members tend to “impulse buy” based on what is the latest and greatest and what looks cool. Image is very important, and photos or sales on hot items are a great way to draw them to your store. Are you getting the idea?

Remember to think effective – not cheap – marketing. For example, most small businesses create and distribute flyers as an inexpensive part of their marketing strategy. Let’s say that, as the owner of this hypothetical surf shop, you decide this is one facet of your marketing strategy.

You take the time to design a flyer at home, print it, and then head out into the local community to distribute the flyer. Your best friend runs a nearby senior center and has given you the OK to put a flyer on every vehicle in the parking lot – to help in your marketing effort.

Well, unless a lot of elderly folks in your community suddenly decide to take up surfing, snorkeling or paddle-boarding, you’ve just wasted your time, money and energy on a non-target demographic.

These are all things to think about for your business when you’re developing and implementing an effective marketing strategy that focuses on your ideal customer and earns you money. Review your current customers, find out which ones fit the mold for your ideal customer, and focus your efforts on finding more people just like them!

written by: Courtney Ricks