With the recession, small businesses are finding it harder and harder to compete. Many small business owners are asking themselves, “How do I ‘recession-proof” my business?” The answer is: Make marketing your first priority!
Marketing is what drives your business. During a recession, it will mean the difference between going out of business or weathering the storm and being a super success. Your best business years could be during this recession! It’s during the difficult times that you learn how to stretch your marketing dollar, to make the most of your marketing investment. It’s during times like these that you learn new and innovative marketing techniques that help your business thrive.
Understand Your Market and Competition
A big mistake that many small business owners make is to latch on to a cool product or service without first understanding the market and what it wants (not what it needs). If you try to sell something that people don’t want, they won’t buy it. It’s that simple.
A profitable market consists of people who have dire wants that are being unmet, so much so that they will jump to buy your solution (product or service). A profitable market can be compared to a lake with thousands of starving fish. All you need to do is throw in the bait and it turns into a feeding frenzy. To get an understanding of your market you should ask yourself questions like:
- Are there segments in my market that are being underserved?
- Are the segments of my market for my product or service big enough to make money?
- How much of a share of that market do I need to capture, to just break even?
- Is there too much competition in the segment of my market to be competitive?
- What are the weaknesses in my competition’s offering that I can capitalize on?
Understand Your Customer
Knowing your customer intimately is the first step to easy sales. Until you know (1) who your customers are, (2) what they want, and (3) what motivates them to buy, you can’t prepare an effective marketing plan.
To really get to know your customers you’ll need to ask yourself questions such as:
- How does my potential customer normally buy similar products? (e.g. in a store, on the Web, door-to-door)
- Who is the primary buyer and the primary buying influencer in the purchasing process? (e.g. husband or wife, purchasing agent, project leader, secretary)
- What kind of habits does my customer have? For instance, where do they get their information? (e.g. television, newspapers, magazines)
- What are my target customer’s primary motivations for buying? (e.g. looking good, avoiding pain, getting rich, being healthy, being popular, etc.)