The secret to successful marketing is to understand your target customers’ needs, demands, and wants before your competitors can; offer customers the products and services that will satisfy those needs, demands, and wants; and provide customers with service, convenience, and value so that they will keep coming back.
Marketing is the process of creating and delivering desired goods and services to customers and it involves all of the activities associated with winning and retaining loyal customers. Unfortunately, there appears to be a sizable gap between sound marketing principles and actual marketing practices among small businesses.
A study of small company marketing practices by the National Federation of Independent Businesses reveals many weaknesses. For instance, the study reports that 55% of small business owners say that their companies do not need marketing because their products and services sell themselves. The unfortunate result is that most business owners devote little time, energy, or resources to marketing their companies. No product or service “sells itself”, and insufficient marketing efforts are a common cause of small business failure.
The marketing function cuts across the entire company, affecting every aspect of its operation – from finance and production to hiring and purchasing – as well as the company’s ultimate success. As competition for customers becomes more intense, entrepreneurs must understand the importance of developing creative marketing strategies; their success and survival depend on it. A marketing plan is not just for mega-operations competing in international markets. Although they may be small and cannot match their larger rials’ marketing budgets, entrepreneurial companies are not powerless when it comes to developing effective marketing strategies.
By using guerrilla marketing strategies – unconventional, low-cost, creative technique – small companies can wring as much or more “bang” from their marketing bucks. Guerrilla marketing is the creating use of novel or unconventional methods in order to boost sales or attract interest in a brand or business. These methods are often low- or no-cost and involve the widespread use of more personal interactions or through viral social media messaging. It is an advertisement strategy in which a company uses surprise and/or unconventional interactions in order to promote a product or service.
An effective marketing campaign does not require an entrepreneur to spend large amount of money, but it does demand creativity, ingenuity, and an understanding of customers’ buying habits.
Entrepreneurs can create a Guerilla marketing plan by answering these questions:
- What is the purpose of your marketing? In other words, what action do you want customers or prospective customers to take as a result of your marketing efforts? Should they visit your store? Go to your company’s website? Call a toll-free number for more information?
- What primary benefit can you offer customers? In order words, what is your company’s competitive advantage and what does it do for customers? Guerilla marketers express their company’s competitive advantage as a solution to a customer’s problem, which is easier to market than just a positive benefit. Successful Guerrilla marketing requires an entrepreneur to have a clear understanding of a company’s unique selling point (USP), a key customer’s benefit of a product or service that sets it apart from its competition.
- Who is your target market? At whom are you aiming your marketing efforts? Answering this question often requires some basic research about your target customers, their characteristics, their habits and their preferences. Guerrilla marketers know that broadcasting is old school; they realize that “narrowcasting” – focusing their marketing efforts on those people who are most interested in and are likely to purchase their goods and services – is much more efficient and effective. Most small companies have more than one target market; be sure to identify all of them.
- Which marketing tool will you use to reach your target audience? This list should include only those tools that your company understands, knows how to use effectively, and can afford. The good news is that marketing tools do not have to be costly to be effective.
- What is your company’s niche in the marketplace? In other words, how do you intend to position your company against the competition? Guerrilla marketers understand that their marketers are crowded with competitors, some of them much larger with gigantic marketing budgets that dwarf their own, and that finding a profitable niche to occupy can be highly profitable. Many successful entrepreneurs position their companies in profitable niches. The key is to carve out a position that allows your company to differentiate itself from all of its competitors.
- What is your company’s identity in the marketplace? A company’s identity is a reflection of its personality, its DNA. Small companies often have an advantage over large businesses when it comes to communicating their identities because of the interesting, unique stories behind their creation and the enthusiasm and passion of their founders. Customers enjoy doing business with small companies that have a clear, meaningful, and compelling identity in the marketplace.
- How much money will you spend on your marketing; in other words, what is your marketing budget? Entrepreneurs should decide how much they intend to invest in their marketing efforts, an amount that they usually express as a percentage of sale. The good news is that many of the Guerilla marketing techniques that small companies can use are either low-cost or no cost. When allocating their budget, Guerrilla marketers recognise the importance of putting their money where they will get the greatest “bang”
Answering these seven questions will give you an outline of your company’s marketing plan. Implementing a guerrilla marketing plan boils down to two essentials:
- Having a thorough understanding of your target market, including what customers want and expect from your company and its products and services.
- Identifying the obstacles that stand in your way of satisfying customers (competitors, barriers to entry, processes, outside influence, budget, knowledge, and others) and eliminating them.
A sound Guerilla marketing plan reflects a company’s understanding of its customers and recognizes that satisfying them is the foundation of every business. Its purpose is to build a strategy for a business – but from the customer’s point of view. Indeed, the customer is the central player in the cast of every business – but from the customer’s point of view. Indeed, the customer is the central player in the cast of every business venture.
However, the Guerilla marketing plan should accomplish four objectives;
- It should pinpoint the specific target markets the small company will serve.
- It should determine customer’s needs and wants through market research
- It should analyze the firm’s competitive advantages and build a Guerilla marketing strategy around them.
- It should help create a marketing mix that meets customers’ needs and wants.