"Facing the task of building a social media following for your small business can feel like an uphill battle. What’s the use of wracking your brain to create engaging content when you have just a few dozen followers? If you create a social media post, and there’s no one to read it, does it even...
Steps to Success
Marketing is about getting the RIGHT products or services to the RIGHT customers or clients at the RIGHT time and the RIGHT location for the RIGHT price. So how do you get it right?
First you must be able to answer the following questions. Sometimes it's not as easy as you might think:
Who are your customers?
What are your products or services?
Is there a demand for those products or services?
What sets your business apart from your competitors?
Marketing is much more than advertising and promotion. It's also public relations, research, customer discovery, competitive analysis and more. John Jantsch, author of the highly-recommended Duct Tape Marketing says, "Marketing is getting someone who has a need to know, like and trust you."
The forms of advertising and promotion that will be most effective for particular businesses differ. The traditional channels -- radio, television, print -- still make sense for businesses that want to reach specific audiences and have the budget to do so. But for almost every business, the ability to market online has expanded opportunities exponentially because it allows you to reach for more prospects in many more ways, and many of these marketing channels are either free or extremely affordable. The first online ad appeared in 1993 -- see the History of Online Advertising for an informative and nostalgic look at how far we've come in the last 20+ years. In addition to traditional channels, today you must consider online resources including a website, mobile app, Facebook page, LinkedIn,Twitter, Instagram, YouTube... and new resources that seem to appear almost daily. Which choices are best for reaching your customers and how will you use them? You'll need up-to-date marketing expertise to help you navigate these channels. If your business is in Champaign, financial assistance is available for marketing services through the Small Business Incentive Program (see the sidebar).
Information about your market and the potential customers in it is also very important as you develop strategies to connect with those prospects. There are a number of resources and methods for gathering and acquiring this information. The Champaign County Economic Development Corporation, for example, offers a Champaign County Community Profile in addition to other information that can help you define your market in detail. The Champaign County Regional Planning Commission has a wide range of Information Services including useful statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau lof Labor Statistics and other sources.The SBA SizeUp tool will help you manage and grow your business by benchmarking it against competitors, mapping your customers, competitors and suppliers, and locating the best places to advertise. These resources all appear on this page's sidebar menu.
Additional Marketing Resources
The videos below from the SBA Learning Center will help you plan and execute the marketing activities that are essential to the success of your business.
By Steve Robinson
Director of National Organizations, Constant Contact
You’ve probably noticed that a lot more...
SBDC Workshop: Starting Your Business...
SBDC Info Session: City of Champaign’s...