|Marketing is essential, but If you are like the majority of small entrepreneurs your marketing budget is limited. You need to take every step cautiously, and make sure that resources allocated to marketing are used efficiently. Every rupee matters, and a bad decision on where to spend your marketing money can be fatal for your business. That's why every small business is always in a dire need to optimize its limited budget.
First of all, what I think necessary is to use low-cost marketing channels. Small and medium enterprises should always go for marketing methods, such as up-sells and cross-sells, referral programs, websites and online sales, B2B advertising, business cards, e-mail newsletter, etc. These are inexpensive tools and can be used easily to get your message out to your customers on a regular basis, which you can't do with expensive TV ads or big commercial hoardings. Your limited budget doesn't allow that.
Even if an SME can afford big-budget marketing, I don't think it a smart idea to "copy" what the big brothers are doing. Marketing rules under which large businesses operate are often not applicable to smaller firms. For example, large corporations usually try to differentiate themselves on branding and to achieve that they invest huge money on advertising and marketing materials, but if a small firm imitates the same strategy, this will only place its business on the home turf of larger companies, inviting severe competition.
Target marketing is another effective way. A common mistake made by small enterprises is that they try to market to everyone, and as a result, spend their time and money on addressing a large market the needs of which they are not capable of serving. On the other hand, target marketing makes a firm much more focused -- you know exactly whom to address, which channel to use, what to write, and mend your marketing accordingly. This, needless to say, can cut down your marketing costs significantly. A small business can be more successful by narrowing down its focus and picking a niche small enough to dominate.
Another way -- we all know but often don't care enough -- to achieve marketing optimization is by promoting to existing and past customers. Earning new clients is important, but at the same time it is equally important for a small business to retain the past and existing customers. The biggest asset your company has is your customer base, and keeping it intact can save you a lot of money as it costs less time and money to encourage a repeat purchase than to get a new customer. Follow-up can play a crucial role here.
For any business, marketing is crucial for success, but it can also be very expensive, and when it comes to a small enterprise, the more it can optimize its marketing activities - advertising, public relations, promotions, sales, and others - the better it is. The key to this lies in awareness that will eventually lead to clear seeing of what works for you and what doesn't, and how to make a small marketing budget work.