Building and managing a business is not for the faint of heart. It takes incredible determination, skill, and no small amount of luck. While a unique and enticing product or service may help separate a small business from the crowd, it will take more than a clever idea for a business to become successful on both a local and global scale.
While there are many key factors that go into a successful business, one that is often neglected, or put at the very bottom of “To Do” lists, is marketing. Business marketing so frequently takes a back seat and gets budget cuts so that product research and development, customer service, and actual buildings can be focused on first. Unfortunately, these cuts may seem successful initially and may solve a few small problems, but the truth is marketing is really the bread and butter for SME businesses.
Business Marketing In a Nutshell
Around fifteen years ago, business marketing was completely different than it is today. Thanks to the integration of the internet in everyday lives, marketing has gotten a lot more expansive – allowing businesses not only to reach millions of customers within their country, but also on a more global aspect as well. Unfortunately, with the integral part of marketing that the internet is playing, it also makes business marketing very complex and multifaceted.
The idea of business marketing is to promote and sell their products and services to customers. These customers can be other businesses, normal individuals, or individuals within a business or organization that make decisions on behalf of their employer. The strategies used to promote and engage existing customers and potential customers about various products and services will vary depending on who the target audience is; however whether it is B2B (business to business) or simply marketing to the general public, understanding there are a few key components of business marketing that do not change.
Components of a business marketing plan
- Outline your goals of marketing – what are you looking to achieve?
- Determine your target audience – crucial so that you don’t end up throwing countless dollars into an ineffective marketing campaign
- Methods for marketing – content marketing. social media, magazines, news, email newsletters, how are you going to reach your target audience?
- Implementation and reporting – make sure that your marketing is meeting your expected goals and, if not, consider revising it or determining where there are issues.
Why Marketing is crucial for success
Successful marketing does so much in the way for a business aside from just selling products. A common misconception is that business marketing is only about promoting and selling products, however it is so much more than that! Below are just a few of the benefits that a successful marketing campaign can provide for a business.
Spreading the word
For a business to be successful on any scale, it is crucial for potential customers to know about it first. While they may not be directly inclined to buy a product, if they know of the products and services that are provided by a business, they can refer friends or family members, or simply go back on a later date to purchase the products/services.
Yes marketing is not all about sales, but it does have a huge effect on the amount of sales if it is done properly. Higher sales means more profits means more of a budget for a business to expand – so obviously marketing is definitely a must. Once potential customers know about your business, they are more likely to purchase from you and spread the awareness themselves to others who may purchase from you. More sales means that you have more customers who can be turned into loyal customers that continue to purchase from you and promote your products/services through their own positive experiences with your company.
While marketing does lead to higher sales and more recognition, one of the most helpful side effects of a great marketing plan is that your businesses reputation increases. This is because the name of your company and the products/services that are marketed to customers becomes something that they remember. When they remember your company name, logo, or slogan then your reputation and awareness dramatically increases which, in turn, increases sales. Making sure that when a marketing campaign sets the expectations for the products and services high, that the company meets them else that reputation can turn to sour and be used in a negative way!
Lastly marketing ensures that there is fair and healthy competition in the business world. When customers see only one business marketing for a particular product/service it becomes almost like a monopoly, however should your business begin offering better rates and higher quality products and services similar to the previous business, this opens up the opportunity for healthy competition between businesses and the opportunity to begin converting loyal customers from competitors to your own loyal customers.
Common Misconceptions about marketing
One of the most common misconceptions about marketing is that it is all about driving up sales – which is often why smaller businesses put it on the backburner to focus on other essential business factors. Fortunately, marketing does so much more for a business than just increase sales. As you saw above marketing can dramatically increase awareness of the business, reputation and brand recognition, and also encourage healthy competition between other businesses offering similar products and service.
Another common misconception is that marketing is ALL about new customers and getting them to buy products. Taking an approach to only focus on a new customer is one way to ensure that a business marketing plan is not only less effective, but not reaching its full potential!
Previous customers need to be addressed in marketing campaigns because they play a huge role. Not only are they a source of free and indefinite marketing (especially if you’ve wildly impressed them with your product/service), but they are far more likely to purchase from you than a new customer is!
Here is a very interesting statistic that was done after extensive research in business marketing and new versus returning customers:
An existing or previous customer purchasing again from a business is around 60-70%. On the other hand, a new customer purchasing from a business is as low as 5% and as high as 20%.
The whole idea here is not to completely ignore new customers and avoid marketing to them, but to understand the absolutely significant role that existing customers can play in your marketing scheme. Existing customers who are loyal and continue to purchase from you are going to tell anywhere from 5+ people about their experience (especially if there was an issue that was resolved in a positive way)! This means that you can focus more on current and previous customers, increase their quality of service and still ensure that you’re marketing, inadvertently, towards new customers by doing so!
Inhouse marketing vs Outsourcing
Now that you understand just how important marketing is and a bit about who you should target your marketing efforts towards, you may be wondering how to set up your marketing team or even if you should just outsource all of the work instead. Admittedly, considering the pros and cons of in house marketing versus outsourcing can be difficult, but it will largely depend on your current staffing, the size of your business, and the budget allotted for marketing.
To have a successful in house marketing set up, you need highly trained and highly enthusiastic staff as well as a very knowledgeable marketing manager. Marketing is a multifaceted feat that cannot be managed by one person successfully, especially for a growing business.
If you already have the staff in place for some in house marketing, then you need to designate it to them on a full time basis. Marketing, as you saw, plays a massive role in your businesses success so it is crucial that the staff is giving their full attention to it.
Should you lack the staff necessary to have an adequate in house marketing team set up, then you need to consider whether or not you have a budget that allots for the salaries of these individuals. If, on the other hand, you simply don’t have space or budget to accommodate an actual team, then outsourcing your businesses marketing may be the perfect solution to achieving the results you want and growing your business.
The size of the business will also dramatically affect the marketing needs. If the business is currently a one or two person start up business, then there is likely almost no budget for marketing – meaning that any in house marketing will have to be done by the actual business owners and even outsourcing may be neigh impossible on such a small budget. Growing businesses with several employees and maybe one or two locations, on the other hand, may well be able to afford the budget for an outsourced marketing team. Since marketing is essential it is crucial for knowledgeable individuals to handle it, yet if there isn’t enough of a budget in place for a full team, then outsourcing is going to be an incredibly beneficial and viable solution.
So much about determining whether or not to have an in house marketing team or to outsource determines on a business’s budget, which is why most small and medium sized businesses are wisely electing a qualified and experienced company to handle their marketing. Larger corporations and global businesses make enough of an annual profit to support a flourishing in house marketing team, but the fact is that most small and medium sized businesses need that extra budget money to focus on so many other things. Since marketing should never be neglected, and should never be handled by untrained individuals, outsourcing is the perfect solution for small and medium sized businesses looking to dramatically expand and grow.
Benefits of Outsourcing your marketing
We’ve talked a lot about how outsourcing a business’s marketing is the key to a small and medium businesses success, but let’s take a closer look at exactly why.
More affordable – when you compare your marketing needs to that of the salary you’d have to allot for an entire team of individuals, you likely are going to save an impressive amount of money on outsourcing your marketing needs to a qualified company.
Experts and qualified professionals – just as you are an expert on your products and service that you provide, marketing companies are experts at what they do. Individuals employed at marketing companies spend their time learning about new marketing techniques, helping grow other businesses by marketing, and are acutely familiar with all of the ins and outs of marketing – something that only comes with years of experience and knowledge.
Less office space – having in house marketing specialists means you are going to have to delegate office space to the team and ensure that they have all of the proper materials and work stations to continue their work.
Guaranteed results – when dealing with outsource companies that specialize in business marketing, there are generally various contracts and guarantees that are signed before any work begins. This allows a business owner to know that there are certain obligations that the company must meet and that the marketing company has a fiduciary responsibility to them. Because from a marketing company’s standpoint – when a business grows and sees the results of the marketing campaign, they are more likely to continue using that service and invest more money into it.
As you now know, marketing plays a vital role in a business’s growth, reputation, brand recognition, and sales. It is absolutely crucial for a business to allot some of their budget (no matter how small it is) into marketing because of the massive increase in customers and awareness that results from it. Unfortunately for most small and medium sized businesses, having an in house marketing team can easily blow any budget by a long shot, but hiring an experienced and trusted marketing company to outsource the work can ensure that the same phenomenal results in growth and sales is seen at a fraction of the cost.
If you’ve put marketing on the back burner like so many other businesses have, then consider outsourcing your marketing – you could be amazed at the results!