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First Steps to Marketing a Small Business

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It's difficult to start a business, let alone learn how to market it. It's not uncommon for new and small business owners to find themselves in the marketing role and quickly becoming overwhelmed. Don't worry, I'm here to help. There are marketing basics that are important to every small business owner. Marketing is not an expense it's an investment and it's important to have a clear understanding on where to start investing. If you can get this, you are one step ahead.

Let's talk about the basics, shall we? By the end of this series you'll have a clear understanding of not only what marketing is and why you should do it, but you'll also be well on your way to creating your own marketing plan. With a plan in hand and a basic understanding you will have taken the risk out of where your putting those marketing dollars.

What is Marketing?
We often hear about marketing and when we own a business we know it's something we are supposed to do, but what is marketing? There are so many definitions that describe marketing as small business owners understanding what it is can leave us confused. We hear about sales, advertising, public relations and marketing. Is there a difference? There is a difference and when that difference is understood it's easier to understand what tasks should be handled by specific roles within the company and under the specific actions entitled marketing. Good marketing is critical to the success of any business and understanding what it is will help your small business get started on the right foot.

Why Marketing is Worth the Expense
Many companies view marketing as an expense. Truth is when a business understands the importance and the role it plays in growing a business it's clear on why it should be considered an investment. Marketing is crucial when it comes to gaining the attention of prospective consumers and clients, developing products or service demand and turning those prospective consumers into customers. Marketing has an affect on your sales, pricing, promotions and your advertising strategies. When understand the importance of marketing you can use it to promote the ongoing transition of your services and products to the consumer; this can create success in your small business.

Understanding Market Research
Market research helps you to determine how your product or service will be accepted among different demographics. This information can help you in establishing which segment of consumers will have an interest in your product and services and ultimately end up purchasing from you. You can use market research to gain specific information such as determining the age group, gender, location, and income level of potential customers that you should target using your marketing message. Market research enables you to create a marketing plan for your small business that is not only effective, but also cost efficient.

Why Marketing Research is Important to Your Business
You've done your homework and you've invested time in marketing research, so why should you care about marketing research? There is a difference, let me explain. Market research gives the information that you need regarding the market. Marketing research is delving into the behavior and buying habits of a specific segment that you have decided to target and ultimately it saves you money in by helping you avoid costly marketing mistakes. Learn why it's important and how you can use it to be create effective marketing strategies for your small business.

Why Consumers Buy What They Buy
Our marketplace is changing, we see this in the spending habits of consumers as well as in the economy. Consumers are looking for something more than a flashy ad or attention grabbing commercial when considering where to spend their hard earned money. Learn why consumers buy what they buy and how you can influence their decision.

Marketing a Product vs. Marketing a Service
Marketing a service is different than marketing a product. There are certain things you need to consider and different steps you need to take in order to help the consumer feel comfortable. Learn what you what you need to do differently in order to market your service effectively.

What is a Marketing Plan?
A marketing plan serves as a roadmap when it comes to your marketing initiatives. It details the success route that you will need to follow to get your small business noticed by potential customers. A detailed marketing plan will show you what to do and help you understand why you are doing it. It will also help you navigate away from the marketing and business mistakes that will cost you money, time and future growth potential. As a small business owner equipped with a marketing plan, you will feel more organized, have more confidence and a clear vision when it comes to your marketing goals. Put in simple terms a marketing plan increases your chance to achieve the business success that you desire.

Creating a Marketing Budget - How Much Should I Spend on Marketing?
Determining how much of your resources to marketing within your company can be one the biggest obstacles that businesses face. It can also be a key component that can make or break a business. There are guidelines that will help in allocating your resources, learn what I recommend when it comes to marketing budgets.

Create a 90 Day Marketing Plan
If you've never created a marketing plan, I also suggest that you try doing the 90-day plan. It is less intimidating and helps you to focus on the short-term need. You can also focus on the immediate needs of the company. There are many benefits to creating a 90-day plan. Learn how a 90-day plan can keep you on target and help in your overall master planning.

Learn from Others - How I Started Marketing My Small Business Series
Marketing a small business can prove challenging at times; especially in rough economic times. However, many companies are finding success by utilizing new techniques to market their small business. These strategies may include social media marketing, online marketing, traditional marketing and even direct mail. I've asked my readers to share their stories on how they started marketing their small business in hopes that it will inspire, motivate you and make you think of new ways to market that you had not considered previously. Learn how others started marketing their businesses and share your own story.

Marketing Trends for the New Decade
How will your business do in the next decade? I think that all depends on how you market and the relationships that you create and cultivate. It's time to pull those marketing dollars back that aren't working for you and begin to invest them in ways that will give you more of a return. If you are ready, what are you waiting for? I give you my Marketing Predictions for 2010 and the decade that follows - out with the old and in with the new.

How to Persevere With Small Business Marketing Until It Pays Off
It often happens that a small business owner does not persevere with their marketing plan. This happens for various reasons and small business owners often give up too soon. Learn how to persevere with a set marketing plan and chosen marketing strategies, until it pays off in the end.

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