3 Proven Tips for Growing New Markets on a Tight Budget (Listen, Engage, Educate)
by Caron_Beesley, Community Moderator
- Created: May 4, 2010, 7:53 am
- Updated: March 28, 2013, 3:39 pm
Marketing in all its forms is an essential part of small business growth. And whatever stage your business is at, really great marketing starts with an understanding of your target market and how that market relates to your business.
Why? Because knowing who your customer is can help underpin your marketing plan, influence your marketing message, determine your channels of communication and even shape your product or service.
And while there are numerous books and courses that you can take to learn how to optimize your marketing strategy, planning and tactics, some of the best advice can come from those in your shoes - other small business owners.
In December 2009, the Small Business Administration (SBA) and Dell partnered to produce a series of online videos;-Strategies for Growth: Advice for Expanding Your Business-. Included in the series are three brief marketing videos, in which award-winning small businesses explain how they have improved their marketing efforts by better listening to their customers and critics while leveraging online tools to grow new markets on a tight budget.
Here is what they recommend.
1. Explore trade shows and publications as a cost-effective way to introduce your'customer' to your product
As SBA National Exporter of the Year 2009, Andrew Kruse of Southwest Windpower (a Texas manufacturer of small wind turbines) explains in this video:'Part of our business strateg' is listening to the consumer and listening to what they have to say about what works and what does't work in our product.
Lacking the budget for focus groups during its early start-up years, trade shows offered Southwest Windpower a cost-effective platform for doing just that' it also won them sales.
Kruse explains his thinking:'We learn from our mistakes, and we learn from something that maybe we didn't see. And, to our surprise, we walked away with orders too.
Getting your product or service in front of potential influencers in the media is just as important as getting it in front of your potential customers. And thinking outside the traditional public relations box, can sometimes pay off, particularly for small businesses. For example, instead of putting a traditional press release out on the wire announcing a new product launch and hoping from some press coverage, Andrew Kruse successfully researched and reached out directly to editors of relevant industry publications and magazines and introduced his company and its offering using existing brochures and other company literature.
2. Know your consumer. Deliver the right message
'Market research is at the essence of starting any business and it's certainly at the essence of growing a business', explains Casey Wilson of the Maryland Small Business Development Center.
And while consumer statistics and demographic data (such as that offered by Business.gov here) can help you understand broad customer and market profiles, simply listening to customers can also help you develop a clear product or business message that is tailored to your target audience.
This might involve focus groups or even just strategic phone calls to customers and prospects. Andrew Kruse explains the benefits: 'We could tell you how old (our customers and prospects) are on average how much money they make. We can tell you politically where they come from; we know all of that to the minute degree and that helps us now with delivering a more important message.'
3. Develop new markets. Educate potential customers about your products using traditional and new media
So now you know all about your customers 'how can you reach them and attract their business?
Business opportunities can often present themselves in seemingly unfavorable environments where your potential customers may not know your products. For example, when SBA Texas Business Persons of the Year 2008, Jesus and Maria Luisa Mendoza, opened a natural food and supplements store in a largely Hispanic neighborhood of Austin, Texas, they quickly found that educating their community and potential customers was their first job.
As Jesus Mendoza explains in the video: 'When we opened this store, everyone was saying, well, you are crazy because in this area nobody's going to come to see you, and they had the idea that all the Mexican people just eat beans and rice and fat things.'
Jesus and Maria started their business with the goal of re-educating their community, 'if we don't educate people, we don't have business', explains Maria Luisa Mendoza. So the Mendoza's reached out to local Hispanic newspapers, radio and TV stations and secured free publicity for their business while spreading the word about the importance of healthy lifestyle choices.
Just as effective (and cost-effective) as traditional marketing vehicles such as print, radio and TV are 'new media' marketing channels. 'New' or 'online' media is a great way to create a marketing campaign on a small budget. And while having a Web presence is essential for all businesses, large or small, if you really want to grow consider supplementing your Web presence with an email newsletter campaign or social media presence.
But don't forget that your online marketing efforts will work best when they work together. So craft your online campaign carefully and recognizes when you may need to outsource to a professional marketer or writer.
Get more tips about growing your online marketing efforts with these four articles from Business.gov.
- Getting Started with Email Marketing: 'The Most Powerful Tool in Your Relationship-Building Toolbox'
- Getting Started with Social Media Marketing and Small Business Marketing: Making Social Media Pay Off for your Brand and Your Bottom Line
Watch all the Marketing Videos Online
You can also find 27 other videos in the SBA's Strategies for Growth series at the Business.gov You Tube Channel*. Growth strategies covered include team building, government contracting, exporting and more.
*Note: Hyperlink directs reader to non-government Web site.
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General small business tips and tricks.