Local Business Marketing and Promotion
Local Business Marketing and Promotion Resources and How To Leverage Free Resources
One of the most important marketing decisions that local business owners and managers may need to make, centres around determining the most effective way to promote their business and products. This article will provide some guidance by defining some of the primary roles and forms of promotional activities. For niche business markets, effective promotion may mean translating the venture's message to the appropriate type of marketing materials and media. Since promotional strategies may not be at the top of a firm's list for investing available resources, researching the existing public resources available for local and direct marketing in the local business area may be more cost effective.
Does Your Small Business Rely on a Lottery For Advertising?
Throwing Your Business Down The Drain Like Losing Tickets?
Four figures huddled together in front of the flickering television images. It was another Saturday night in the back of the small families shop and time to watch - The Draw. Their business had been struggling for some months now. Mom and Pop had never seen it so bad in the forty odd years they had been in the trade. The oldest son shivered against the wintery cold. The heating was down again, but must not grumble he thought to himself. He was turning thirty one next week and with the baby on the way..
The beaming hostess skipped on to the stage. Pearly white teeth shone against the fake brown tan. Her immaculate tresses held stiffly in place by some miracle of modern chemistry. She ebulliently greeted the audience with her well scripted patter about the good works that would be carried out in the name of charity by money raised by - The Game. She stage glanced over her shoulder to prompt her independent auditor to confirm that - The Draw - was being fairly conducted in an ethically sound way to help all the poor people. The bespeckled black suit grimly nodded his bald pate in assent as usual.
She struck the big red knob on the column in front of her thus starting the proceedings of - The Draw. The booming voice over picked up the action.
" First out tonight is number 73, haven't seen that one before, oh well.
Next out is lucky number two, last seen fifteen draws ago when nobody won and it was a roll over."
And so the draw dragged on to it's inevitable conclusion.
The four heads seemed more stooped and bowed under pressure than before. A collective sigh escaped and eyes glanced at each other around the table. Pop took the ticket from the table top, screwed it up and threw it in the bin in the corner of the room with the others.
"Maybe next week?"
Is this how you treat the advertising of your small business when times are hard? Do you trust the whim of a lottery ball to get your business out of the doldrums and gloomy periods? Of course not. Getting your name out there for people to find you, your service and your business need not be expensive or a lottery. There are many cheap and free ways to grow your business and it's name. Be positive in these times, get out there and grow your business in local business directories online - in your location - today.
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Promotion and Electronic media
Promotionis considered to be one of the "4 Ps" commonly used in marketing plan strategy (the others being place, price and product). It is essential that promotion is complementary to, and leverages, the other elements as well. Most people understand that promotion includes advertising, public relations, and sales activities, but fewer understand the intended role of promotion, which of the activities it will affect, and how it will affect them.
When done correctly, promotion influences the attitudes and buying behaviours of customers in a target market. More specifically, a firm's activities should encourage product purchase and market expansion, so promotion is important for positioning and firmly establishing a product or service in the market. This is a slightly different challenge for niche local markets since, by definition, the product or service and its potential appeal are narrowly targeted at a specific set of consumers who may only be receptive to messages from a small range of media, sales strategies, and influencers.
An effective promotion strategywill reach target customers through several types of media. These may include the following:
a) Print media: residential mailers and brochures
b) Electronic media: websites and Internet advertising
c) Published media: newspapers, magazines, and coupons
d) Broadcast media: television and radio
Traditional media avenues include newspapers, radio advertising, yellow pages, and advertising with local and state agencies. Although these media avenues can be successful, it is imperative that the chosen media be appropriate for the target market. For example, if the target market is working women, aged 25-35, it would be best to conduct radio advertising during commute times, or use newspaper advertising on the weekends, as this market is likely to read the newspaper only on Sunday. The section of the newspaper the advertising falls under is also important.
Although newspapers are a traditional advertising outlet, they may be too broadly defined to effectively target a niche's likely consumers. When discussing the limitations of print media, it is important to consider the differences between mass and target marketing. Mass marketing generally relies on one message targeted at the "average" or representative consumer, so broadcast media (such as newspapers) will be effective. Target marketing, on the other hand, is based on the idea that customer segments are motivated by different claims, messages, or stories. Because of this, large-scale media outlets are less likely to be cost effective, but some media (Internet, targeted ads in radio, television and publications) may work.
In a survey conducted in Western America in 2007, it was found that online food and nutrition newsletters may be an equally good venue (relative to personal newsletters and information booths at markets) to advertise products, farmers' markets, CSAs, and road side stands. Because they can be customized and updated frequently, Web sites can be powerful marketing tools and are recommended as the basis of a promotion plan. The drawbacks are the potential lack of expertise and experience in this type of marketing and promotion development. The website design is important in building brand awareness and connecting products to consumers.
There are companies who build websites and include hosting and other support services as part of a package. A good source of free Wordpress website building platforms is available, which also offer hosting and shopping cart services. For the novice, there are resources available to show how to use these services and maximise their potential.
Whether considering print or electronic media, a promotional campaign must have a theme, and begs the question:
- Does the business have a unique story that is targeted at a small set of consumers?
If the answer to this question is yes, it is likely that the business can connect with consumers in a more interactive and personal promotional venue. In short, the business manager should consider:
- Are there more cost effective (or free!) methods?
With the decline in the fortunes of traditional yellow pages, it is becoming evident that the continued rise in internet searches for local business particularly via Google will only grow.
Public relations, including community service or events, is often overlooked in promotional strategies, but can be a very effective and inexpensive way to raise the firm or product's image with potential consumers. Similarly, the word of mouth gained from trade shows, exhibitions, and sales promotions are ways to connect trials, education, and demonstrations of the product or service with getting the word out to the public. In the case of niche food products, many would argue that word of mouth referrals to friends and family is the most cost effective way to reach new customers, so consideration should be given to how satisfied customers might be encouraged to "spread the word." Such methods of encouragement might include coupons to distribute to friends, inexpensive gift bundles (for them to share with others) and thanking them with special deals if it is known they are referring others to the business. Another viable method is to offer coupons on a website for the customer to print off and present when purchasing.
However, if the firm's marketing budget is limited, it may be effective to explore an even greater array of free and minimal cost public promotional resources. This is where the savvy local business owner or manager is getting assistance in growing their business online.
Understanding the venture's promotional goals is the first step in deciding which tools will work most effectively. This article discusses how niche firms wanting to target their message to customers can forego advertising and broadcast media for more targeted and personal methods. If firms research the lower-cost public resources for promoting the product or service and business, including online databases, they might accomplish their marketing goals and stay within a reasonable marketing budget.