Successful Small Business Marketing Starts with Careful Market Research
A strong small business marketing plan begins with careful marketing research. Marketing research, as the name implies, is a complex topic but it can be broken out into simplified steps and undertaken on a budget by virtually any small business owner. Unfortunately, the world is littered, with defunct small businesses that had their heart set on producing a particular product or service with no thought to who would buy it.
Before any small business marketing research is done and certainly before a business is launched, we strongly suggest that the would-be entrepreneur apply a healthy dose of "common sense" to the project in in the worst cases, throw a bucket of cold water on the project. What do we mean? If the neighborhood is crowded with Staples stores and Office Depot stores, don't open an independent office supplies store there, it won't fly; if the little town already has a hand-made, bees wax candle shop, find a new area for your candle shop rather than opening a shop in the same town. Were common sense employed on a regular basis, many entrepreneurs could save a lot of money, time and heartache.
Small business marketing research will tell you if there are (a) customers for your product or service and (b) customers in large enough quantities to potentially make you a healthy profit. Part of that first initial step is also to determine the features and quality customers want in the product or service. If you produce a product or service that is off the mark of what customers want, you will face a constant uphill struggle trying to sell it.
Here's how one entrepreneur found her niche and then some. A crafts person loved working in clay and set up a small business making bowls, plates, cups and beautiful figurines. When she showed her figurines at weekend crafts fairs around her region, she was generally the talk of the fair, although she did not sell many pieces and it was a struggle just to survive. Her figurines were particularly complex and beautiful and reminded many of oil paintings. One magnificent example that probably sold for $700 or $800 was a horse and wagon and farmers and work hands harvesting hay and pitching it into the wagon.
This crafts person decided to undertake a little informal marketing research as she showed her beautiful products. What she discovered was that her products were "too expensive" for the typical customer at the fairs--at least more than they wanted to shell out then and there. The long and short of this was that she created individual figurines that she could sell for between $1 and $5 each. These were little replicas of her more extensive products. Each came with a lovely gift box, bow and her elegant business card.
Almost instantly, her revenue increased from $100 to $300 on a typical weekend day to $1,300 to $1,500. People loved her work and purchased little figurines in large quantities. These single figurines could stand alone or could make beautiful Christmas tree decorations. An unintended consequence of selling these inexpensive figurines was that they apparently became conversation pieces when the buyer showed them in their homes. As her customers for single figurines had time to think about the more expensive and beautiful figurines, they began to call to order the more expensive works.
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