Marketing For Small Businesses

Published by MBA Skool Team, Published on April 08, 2012

With the advent of new and diverse marketing platforms which have increasingly leveled the playing field for all the players, the sharks can no longer comfortably sit on a couch sipping beer in the safety of the knowledge that the salmon have neither the funds nor the stage to showcase their product power. Marketing avenues in the digital and mobile space have thrown open the gates for the naïve, the novel, the ambitious and the over-ambitious to present their brands to the consumers in the way they like and impose their presence along with the sharks.

But just being able to design websites, develop mass mail campaigns, send text messages and make a presence on social media tools without hefty costs give the small players the ammunition to gun down their imposing foils? The explosion of these avenues led many to believe that the era of oligopolistic marketing environment is over. Experts wisely commented that every player now has to concentrate on their core competencies and gratefully accept the share of the market that they get. Yet the big players have stood the test of novel technologies and platforms, and continue to reinvent their marketing mix to dominate the market.

Bringing a product into the market now does not merely entail gaining visibility through mediums that you can afford and nodding happily at the sales figures. Every company has to build a brand for themselves from the beginning, exploring the right avenues and not all avenues to market themselves. The changing behavior of consumers, the changing macroeconomic factors that dictate product pricing, the empowerment of consumers to access information in new ways are all factors that need to be taken into consideration while formulating an integrated marketing campaign for your product or service. Here are a few pointers for the small players on what to do and what not to do.

What not to do

Don’t get too excited with the tools you have. Do not bombard your target audience with your brand. Consumers are becoming increasingly impatient with intrusive advertising, and are no longer helpless in dealing with it.

1. Highly sophisticated mail spam filters can easily detect online viral marketing mails. Spam filters assign points to spam attributes, such as excessive use of exclamation marks, or catchy phrases like ‘Order now!’ and add up the points. If the total exceeds a threshold value, the mail is qualified as spam and thrown into the abyss.

2. Mobile companies have been ordered to restrict the sending of viral messages unless the naïve and unknowing consumer voluntarily accepts it.

What to do

1. Put your brand behind a cause.

Make an emotional connect with people. Make them feel that by connecting to the brand, they are connecting themselves to a cause and contributing to the society. Everyone wants to project themselves as a philanthropist in the making, and everyone yearns to do social good as long as it doesn’t cost them time and money.

Apparel brand – ‘I am a green teen’

Electronics brand – ‘Save energy, save yourself’

Technology brand– ‘Be a part of the next technological revolution. No. START the next technological revolution’

Foods – ‘An apple a day…still makes me feel hungry. Bingo - A healthy snack to recharge my battery.’

2. Interactive advertising.

Why is my brand the best?

a)      Quality 1

b)      Quality 2

c)      Quality 3

d)      All of the above

SMS the right answer to 5454 and get a bike.

Interactive advertising engages the customer and gives him or her an incentive to know more about your brand.

3. Packaging with other new products

Find complementary products with an established brand equity with whom your product could be packaged with. Not only are potential consumers given a good look at your product, the partnership lends credibility to your brand.

4. Be the voice of the people. Make a facebook and twitter page. Comment on important social, political and economic topics and voice the popular opinion. Get a following and you get your market share.

5. Create a unique brand delivery selling point. Make the usage of the product an experience. Buy a membership card and you get every fifth product that you want for free.

6. No budget means no brand ambassador. No problem. Make users feel like they are the brand ambassadors of the product. For users which buy a membership card, or register themselves on your websites, or become loyal to your brand in some way, give them unique goodies that flaunt brand loyalty. A t-shirt which says ‘I didn’t choose Xperia X10. It chose me.’

7. An extraordinarily important point and yet an often overlooked one is online credibility. Do not let your marketing campaign get lost in millions of spam messages. Partnering up with complementary partners which are authorities in their sectors was one. Tie up with online retail and coupon selling websites like Flipkart, Snapdeal, Crazeal and the like.

8. Small business are also benefiting and targeting big firms using crowd sourcing platforms. Crowd sourcing platforms where the public is the resources, skills as well as ideas. Crowd sourcing is a cheap and efficient alternative and is fast gaining scale among the small businesses. Business are using crowd sourcing to develop brochure and logos reducing costs by 20 to 30 %.

As the freelancing culture is permeating the society and people are ready to look for work that could be done remotely and digitally, small businesses could give big firms run for their money by utilizing the digital space effectively.

One cannot explore all avenues. Identify which medium best suits your intended brand image and earmark a majority of your marketing fund for that. Other avenues can be explored at a later stage and used for jumping segments or market penetration. Build your brand one step at a time, and you can beat the sharks at their own game.

This article has been authored by Apoorv Singhal and  Apoorva Jain from NMIMS.


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