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Marketing basics for small business

From big brands right down to sole traders, marketing is an aspect of running a successful business that cannot be overlooked.

By TAFE Queensland

For those who have yet to dive into the deep end with marketing, it can be confusing or even scary. But that doesn't need to be the case. Solid planning and return on investment is well within the reach of any business owner.

So get thinking about the what, how and why of your next marketing plan.

What is marketing?

Business Queensland explains that marketing is “the process of planning and executing the conception, pricing, promotion and distribution of your ideas, goods or services to satisfy the needs of individual consumers or organisations.”

In simple terms, marketing sums up a significant portion of what you do behind the scenes. It's more than a flyer or radio ad. This is why learning and eventually mastering marketing for you and your small business is important. While there is no quick fix or one-size-fits-all solution, taking the time to work on your marketing plan will pay dividends in both the short and long term.

How to get started on your marketing plan

The starting point for any business, big or small, is to have a clear and concise marketing plan to refer to throughout the quarter or financial year. A well thought out plan acts as a road map for every potential decision which means you can adapt to change when the unpredictable happens.

The business experts at Entrepreneur magazine pieced together a few of the key things you need to consider including in your marketing plan:

  • Market situation: from the very start you need to have an objective understanding of your industry and overall market, including where you are positioned and what it is you offer. This allows you to accurately plan ahead. Think of this as competitor research.
  • A SWOT analysis: when going into business and thinking about what and how to market, it’s important to know the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of your current situation. Breakdown what is in your favour and what may impede you as a business in both service and marketing communications.
  • Marketing objectives: this is where you pinpoint what exactly it is you hope to achieve with your marketing efforts in the time frame you are focusing on (typically a financial year). It is essential that these objectives are clearly defined and set definite benchmarks for achievement.
  • Budgets and controls: being in business costs money, and having the capacity to track and plan for any expenditure gives you a real advantage going forward. Be objective about what you can afford and what you are willing to spend on when laying out your marketing budget.

Be smart with your marketing

Now that you have a plan to work from, you need to think about how to maximise your efforts. B&T, one of Australia’s leading marketing and advertising publications, has broken down a number of key ways you as a small business can be smarter with your marketing. Some of their points include:

  • Differentiate and blow your customers’ minds: when your business is not only competing against competitors down the street, but potentially virtual ones from across the world, you need to stand out from the crowd. Pinpoint what in your ethos or offering sets you apart. What is your point of difference?
  • Be consistent: whether it is service, product quality or marketing communications, being consistent from one instance to the next builds trust and familiarity with your customer base.
  • Amplify your awesomeness: knowing what sets you apart takes on a new life in this instance amplify and champion what it is that makes you great and what makes you stand out. This needs to be done at all levels of your marketing campaign from awareness to conversion or sale.

Help is available

If you are eager for added guidance in this space, there is no shortage of helpful guides and courses out there. For those seeking a self-guided approach, the Queensland Government has a select range of resources available.

For anyone who prefers to talk directly to an expert, TAFE Queensland's Small Business Solutions team can connect you with hands-on workshops and highly experienced mentors.