Small Business Marketing – The Power of a Market Review

Conducting a market review is one of the most important steps in the small business marketing process as it provides together with a business review the information you need to create a dynamic marketing plan. All big businesses conduct these reviews as they know it can save time and money for their business.

A market review does not have to be complicated and a lot will depend on what information you can source. The important factor regarding a market review is to understand the key elements of your market and how these elements can affect your business now and in the future.

The key elements you need to look at when conducting a market review for your small business include:

Size of Market
Your market is simply the overall industry in which you compete. For example if you sell juice then you compete in the Beverage Market. If you sell holidays as a travel agent then you compete in the Tourism Market. Analyzing the size of your market can tell you whether it is growing or declining, help you to identify growth opportunities and for a new small business can determine if the market is large enough to compete in and operate a profitable business. There are many sources you can use to gather information on the size of your market and these include trade magazines, industry associations, search engines and local government websites and resources.

Market Segment Analysis

Segmentation is a process that looks at the total market and then divides the products or services into broad groups that have similar characteristics. In the examples above, whilst the total market is beverages, the segment that is the most important to a juice manufacturer is the Juice Segment. Looking at the total beverage market today throughout the world the leading soft drink manufacturers have entered many of the market segments such as bottled water to expand their business. Market segment analysis also helps you to determine where your small business marketing efforts should be concentrated.

Distribution Channel Analysis
A distribution channel is the way in which your product or service is made available to your customers so they can purchase it. Examples are supermarkets, personal selling (face to face selling), distributors and the internet. Analyzing the sales of each distribution channel in your market enables you to identify which channels are the most important for you to compete in to grow your business.

Market Trends
A trend is any significant change to your market that your business may need to respond to. Examples of market trends include changes to the economy, changing customer demographics, social and global factors (to name a few). If you conduct business in the USA at the moment or are intending to compete in the USA then the concerns about a possible recession and how it could affect your small business needs to be identified so action plans can be put in place to minimize the impact.

Market Seasonality
If a product or service is seasonal it means that the majority of the sales occur at one or a few times a year. Tax accountants obviously have increased sales when the end of the financial year occurs and tax returns and other government reporting are required. Understanding market seasonality factors can lead to your small business maximizing sales through this period and also may highlight opportunities to spread your sales throughout the year.

Competitor Analysis
Your key competitors need to be analyzed in order for you to identify their key strengths and weaknesses and how they compare to your own small business. Reviewing this area means that you can be smarter with your marketing efforts and be proactive against their weaknesses and of course defend against their strengths. One tip that all big businesses do is to have a competitor file with examples of their marketing activities, products or services.

Big businesses know the value of reviewing the market in which they compete and you can to. Remember you can start slowly and just review one section at a time and then put in place activities or make business decisions based on the review to grow your small business.

© Marketing for Business Success Pty Ltd 2008

Small Business Marketing Materials

Small business marketing materials introduce a product to its consumers. The marketing materials detail the features of the product to the public. Small business marketing materials are intended to grab the attention of the public and enhance sales. Marketing materials play a significant role in the positioning of the product in the market. These materials include collateral materials, advertisements and technical tools such as websites and emails.

Marketing materials are designed carefully since they reflect the quality and credibility of the business concern. A small business is always in search of unique marketing materials to withstand the severe competition in the market. The text in the material must compel the consumer with a new offer or information. Small business marketing materials must be standout pieces, highlighting the product.

Small business marketing materials should also be cost effective, since the marketing budget is limited for a small concern. The appearance of the material is important. All the materials of a concern must maintain a unique family look. They are designed according to the strategy of the business. Professional designing is preferred to harness technological advancements in this field. It utilizes different combinations of colors and graphics to make the material more attractive. In technical materials, the possibilities of animation are also exploited. Good quality photographs of the product are included to detail the parts and their purpose. Marketing tips remind us to use effective design without extravagant splashes of color.

Small business marketing collaterals comprise printed materials such as brochures, logos, newsletters and business cards. Advertisings such as banner ads, sign boards, trade show handouts, magazine and directory ads are also marketing materials. Technological advancement has now introduced a wide scenario of web marketing. Websites and email alerts are potential marketing tools. Email alerts and affiliate marketing sites form effective marketing materials. Complimentary gifts such as shirts, caps, pens and curios with the company logo are marketing materials that appeal to the public.

The design of small business marketing materials is usually entrusted to advertising firms. Professionals with technical excellence and creative experience are essential for good designs. The material design must be consistent to avoid confusion among consumers. Guidelines and templates for designs are available on Internet sites.

What Are The Options For Ecommerce Business Solutions?

Ecommerce business solutions vary depending on a company’s requirements. These solutions can be purchased in a ‘ready made’ state or require a custom tailored solution. Some common ecommerce business solutions are introduced below:

Content management: This solution is the framework that controls the website content. Ready made content management systems can be purchased at the enterprise level or sought through open source sharing networks. Design templates can accommodate the integration of content management systems such as Drupal, WordPress and Joolma. This permits an organization to update content dynamically on the fly. Organizations that require large scale solutions can build from the ground up or purchase high end enterprise versions. These are typically more expensive.

Payment Gateways: Business ecommerce solutions to facilitate transactions include 3rd party solution providers and services provided by local banks. To integrate your website with your bank account is typically more expensive unless you support a large volume of transactions. Setup fees, monthly access fees and programming fees constitute part of this process. Third party solutions such as PayPal, and 2Checkout provide the vendor with the ability to transact in multiple currencies without integrating directly into a bank account. The money can be later transferred into your account by wire or direct deposit.

Security: Protecting your site from outside malicious attacks is a top priority for all ecommerce site owners. Reported cases of identity theft erode consumer confidence. Installing firewalls and using a service such as hacker-safe can protect your infrastructure and business reputation. Security is a growing area of concern for all site owners. Employing an appropriate ecommerce business solution to safeguard your system should be part of every ecommerce platform.

Email: Third party email services allow site owners to communicate and retain records of their customers. Companies such as Aweber and Getresponse host databases and provide front ends to correspond with customers.

Hosting: Ecommerce business solutions for hosting cater to organizational platform and functional requirements. Usually the web development company can recommend or has arrangements with hosting services. This requires a technical understanding to select a service that is appropriate for your site framework.

Custom ecommerce internet solutions for business: This requires the services of a programmer who can work to implement the technical scope. Internet developments have reached a stage where many of the common requirements of ecommerce sites can be fulfilled by cost effective third party solutions. If the technical requirement is more complex in nature, a custom approach is required.

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