Successful marketing for small business owners requires the following inputs:

1. Clarity of the target market(s)
2. Development & Maintenance of key differentiators
3. Consistent implementation of an effective marketing plan
4. Gathering of feedback and fine-tuning
5. Measurement of effectiveness

Small business owners usually have two major constraints that have a significant impact on their marketing success rates. These constraints are time (they have little, if any, time for marketing activities) and funds (marketing budgets are usually limited and are quickly reduced in times of trading difficulties).

The solution is to identify a series of marketing activities that can largely be automated and which require little ongoing financial investment.

The best approach is to use, to the maximum extent possible, the power of the Internet to reach potential buyers. By developing a comprehensive and informative website at the core of your marketing activities you will convert casual but interested visitors into potential purchasers. You can automate much of your lead generation process by encouraging people to visit your website to review its (persuasive) content.

The job of marketing is to identify a steady stream of quality sales opportunities which can be progressed through your sales pipeline. In some instances, such as a retailer able to sell products directly from its website, the sales pipeline is very short.

For other businesses, it can take 9-12 months before an opportunity is converted into a client following a series of meetings, demonstrations, proposals and contract negotiations.

In all businesses, there is a need to nurture interested people until they are ready to start their buying process. Potential buyers are likely to encounter your Internet presence at times when they aren’t planning a purchase. They may see an article or something on social media which sparks some interest. These people have to be engaged and their interest in your company maintained, until they do plan to make a purchase.

You have to find ways to persuade these people to sign up to receive your eZine or to download a report or document, where they give up an email address. You will use this email address to send periodic information that will be of value. Most commonly, this will be a regular eZine.

If you decide to produce an eZine, do not under-estimate the time it takes to produce new materials for each issue of your eZine. Be wary of starting an eZine and then failing to deliver it regularly. Your prospects will notice.

It is all too easy to define a marketing plan that you simply can’t deliver. When it comes to implementation, it calls for too much effort or too much investment. Unfortunately, small business owners are often guilty of setting marketing goals and expectations that will simply not be met. Your prospects will notice if your marketing is patchy.

With the correct information and some mentoring, small business owners can develop marketing plans that are both sustainable over a 12 month period and cost effective. Some owners want to engage with independent experts who can help develop and execute a realistic marketing plan taking account of their operational constraints. Others simply need access to relevant information so they can work it all out for themselves.

Arteka aims to help both groups. You can find lots more information on successful marketing in our Sales & Marketing Resource Centre at where you can access articles and our active blog.

If you would like to discuss any aspect of your current sales and marketing challenges, please get in touch for an initial discussion.