By Teena Rose
The art of marketing can present some confounding and abstract concepts. Wrapping your arms around the idea can be difficult because everything that touches the customer is marketing. But thereís one concept about marketing thatís easy to understand. Produce a quality product and you have won half the battle. Itís the other half of the battle thatís the challenge.
As former Chrysler Chairman Lee Iacocca once said, ďYou can have brilliant ideas, but if you can not get them across, your ideas will not get you anywhere.Ē
When starting a small business, itís important to understand the basics of Marketing 101. Growing the business is your first priority and, for obvious reasons, acquiring more customers is the nucleus of that idea. Once youíve gained customers, the next step is to bring them back to buy more products. Products that are more expensive and increase your businessí profit margin.
Every good marketing plan starts with organization. Whether youíre selling wine or widgets on the web, map out a strategic plan and research what matters to your customer base. Staying competitive is fundamental to success or failure, so price your services or products at a fair rate. But itís critical to understand that anyone can cut their rates, which makes service the single most important concept for any company.
For example, a company like JetBlue Airways flew into a struggling industry and has became one of the biggest business success stories in decades. The airline has hammered the debt-ridden major carriers by combining discounted rates, excellent customer service and a business model that isnít hamstrung with sky-high operating costs.
The airline has grown rapidly through word of mouth. When the flying public faced deteriorating conditions that included older planes, uncomfortable seats, high prices and boring in-flight movies, Jet Blue CEO David Neelman started a company that featured lower prices, new planes, wider seats, seat-mounted TVs with 36 channels and friendly service. But as Neelman often points out, great prices may get customers in the door, but itís great service that brings them back.
JetBlue is a prime example of a company that developed and delivered a first-rate marketing plan. They targeted the right customers, kept costs low, provided a quality service that others neglected, and offered competitive rates. It seems like a simple strategy to follow, but not all businesses are able to grasp these concepts.
The JetBlue model is fine form to follow, but if youíre starting a small business instead of a large one, there are major differences in marketing strategy. Marketing 101 means basics, and basics for a small business usually translates into a small budget. But there are plenty of ways to incorporate sound marketing strategies for any web-based or brick-and-mortar small business.
With a small budget, mustering all of your creative thinking becomes much more important. A professional-looking website is a must in todayís business world, and can be created without breaking the bank. Also try garnering some free publicity through the media with an event or announcement. Reward current customers with incentives for bringing in new business. Set up a booth at a local event, offer giveaways and get customers talking about your product or service.
Did you ever wonder why companies always have that box on forms that says, ďHow did you hear about us?Ē Thatís marketing. When implementing a marketing plan, companies want to know whether itís reaching the right segment of the population Ė their customer base. As a small business owner, you can do the same thing by using systems that track marketing efforts, liked coded ads, multiple toll-free numbers and asking customers how they heard about you.
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