As an owner of a small service business for the last five years, I can say definitively that marketing is the most important part of my business. Now sure, I have to deliver on my core competencies, but without a rock solid marketing plan, there wouldn’t be any core services to perform. In this article I hope to deliver to you some fundamental marketing ideas that will help you not only grow your business, but create a sustainable growth pattern into the future. These ideas are a combination of knowledge gathered through business ownership, corporate experience and an MBA with a marketing and finance focus.
Let’s start off with a marketing definition. According to Webster’s dictionary, the definition of Marketing is, “a. the act or process of selling or purchasing in a market, b. the process or technique of promoting, selling, and distributing a product or service.” Ok, easy enough to understand, right? Marketing is simply the process by which goods or services are moved from a buyer to a seller or vice versa. As a small business owner, this will mean different things to different businesses, so you must define it within the constraints of your own business. For the purpose of this article, I will assume that you are starting XYZ Lawn Care, Inc.
The first step in developing a marketing plan is to segment your market. Marketing is all about segmentation. So how does this work for XYZ Lawn Care? Well, as a lawn care business you can either focus on Residential or Commercial clients. Those are two broad segments. Let’s say that you choose Residential. Now let’s think about the segments within the residential market. If this were my business I would break the segments first into geographical silos. Let’s assume that you would like to work within a 5 mile radius of your home base. So now your market is residential homes within 5 miles of Anywhere, USA (beautiful town). Let’s break it down even further, you can now break that universe of potential clients into economic silos. For simplicity’s sake, let’s say you break the homes into pricing sectors, >$1,000,000 in value, $750,000 - $999,999 and $500,000 - $499,999. Now you have a segmented market! Wasn’t so hard, right?
The next step is to target your market, or markets. In this example, let’s say that you want to go after only homes that are worth $1,000,000 or more. Sure, your market will shrink dramatically, but this will allow you to build a marketing plan specifically geared towards these individuals. There is no doubt that these homes are inundated with generic marketing pieces built to sell them Lawn Care Services. Luckily, you have implemented effective marketing techniques aimed at cultivated YOUR target market niche. This may surprise you, but small business marketing strategies that are well thought out are few and far between. You will automatically separate yourself from the crowd with these basic tips. Your job is to grow your business and build your brand. This marketing strategy is the start to a bright future in any business.
For further reading on the topic I highly recommend John Jantsch's Duct Tape Marketing.
Do you have any other ideas, or stories of marketing success that you would like to share? Leave a comment below. I’d love to hear about them!