What does “marketing” really mean for a small business?

For you, it might include events, public relations, trade shows or advertising. But for some other businesses, it might mean different things, such as electronic newsletters, packaging, postcards — and even the hats, uniforms or name tags that employees wear.

“In fact,” advises Central Maine SCORE mentor Maurice Dube, “think of marketing not as a single action, but rather a combination of steps your business takes to identify, attract and retain profitable customers. As such, marketing is of vital importance to your business, so you want to make sure to do it right. And that means preparing yourself properly before you spend money on marketing.”

As in playing a sport, preparation is essential for success. The same goes for marketing your business. You must be able to identify clearly what it is that sets you apart from the competition because without this knowledge you can’t market yourself properly.

Dube adds, “Before you proceed, verify the accuracy of marketing information. To prepare yourself for marketing, make a detailed profile of your ideal prospect. As you create your marketing message, aim it at the prospects and list the benefits they will receive. Be certain your message highlights the special knowledge and expertise you offer.”

Look for ways to make the buying process easier for your customers. What roadblocks can you remove? Simplify everything, eliminate potential interruptions in the sales process and make decision-making as painless as possible for your customers or clients.

Set a budget and a pace that lets you market continuously. Customer memories are short, and they are bombarded with thousands of messages and images daily. Your effort must be ongoing or people will quickly forget.

A good place to find marketing help, in addition to local and area sources, is www.score.org and also www.allbusiness.com. These sites, as well as others, offer authoritative information on all marketing topics from advertising, Internet marketing and research, to strategy, public relations and items specific to small business.

Your local SCORE chapter office provides resources and materials to improve or start your small business. Contact Central Maine SCORE at 782-3708 or at [email protected] or contact the Auburn Public Library for an appointment with a volunteer mentor. In Oxford Hills call 743-0499; in Rumford-Mexico call 364-3123. Or contact SCORE at www.SCOREmaine.org.

This column is provided by the Central Maine SCORE chapter.

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