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Marketing & Sales

Few things in business are as important as marketing and sales. This section is dedicated to helping the small business effectively market and sell its products and services.

Marketing vs. Sales — What’s the difference?

Many times, marketing and sales are intertwined to such a degree that it’s hard to differentiate between the two. There are, however, some important differences.

Marketing is everything your company does to reach and persuade potential customers. It consists of the measures you use to find and convince your prospects that you are the company for them. It’s the message that prepares the prospect for the sale. Marketing includes advertising, public relations, brand marketing, direct mail, etc.

Sales is everything your company does to "close the sale", sell the product or get a signed agreement or contract. The sales process includes interpersonal interaction and is often done via one-on-one meetings, cold calls, networking or sometimes via your company’s web site.

In simple terms, marketing is identifying and finding people that may need your product and service while sales is showing or convincing these people why your company is the best to provide it.

For example, obtaining phone numbers or addresses of people who are known to be interested in your product is the marketing aspect, while actually calling and convincing them to buy is the sales aspect.

Marketing 101

Marketing is the set of activities used to:

  • Find potential customers.
  • Get your potential customers’ attention.
  • Motivate them to buy.

Marketing theory is made up of the 5 P’s.

  • Product — the product or service you are offering your customers.
  • Positioning — how your customer perceives you in relation to your competitors.
  • Place — the method you make your product or service available (storefront, retail, web, etc.).
  • Price — the amount charged for the product or service, or the value exchanged.
  • Promotion — promotion is the mix of advertising, personal sales, direct mail, etc. your company uses to pursue its marketing objectives.

How do I Get Started Marketing My Business?

1. Identify Your Ideal Customer

First, you need to identify your ideal customer. This means learning as much as possible about the type of person (or company) that would be interested in your company’s product or service. This is generally called "market research" and you can begin by asking yourself the following questions:

  • Who are my current and potential customers?
  • Where do they live?
  • What is their age and gender?
  • What is their average income?
  • What do they think of my business?
  • Do they think my product or service is a good value?
  • How does my business compare to my competitors?
  • Why would they buy my product or service as opposed to my competitors?
  • How do my customers think my business compares to my competitors?

Actually, small business owners do "market research" every day by receiving returned items, dealing with angry customers, looking at competitors’ prices, etc. However, answering these questions is valuable in forcing you to think like your customer. With that knowledge, you can begin to focus on finding your ideal customer.

2. Develop a Marketing Plan

A marketing plan can contribute greatly to the success of your small business. Like a business plan, a marketing plan forces you to check your assumptions and analyze your products and services, competitors, pricing and promotion. This is helpful, especially to those starting out. Doing a marketing plan on your own without guidance can be a complicated task. The good news is there is now software to automate the difficult task of putting together a marketing plan.

From the makers of Business Plan Pro comes Marketing Plan Pro.

Marketing Plan Pro allows even the most inexperienced marketer to create and implement a marketing plan and includes "wizards" to setup your marketing plan step-by-step. It also includes over 70 sample marketing plans as well as glossaries to help you learn "the lingo" of marketing. We highly recommend this software, especially if you are new to marketing and sales.

3. Measure Results and Adjust

After you’ve created and implemented a marketing plan, you must measure the results and adjust accordingly. For many small businesses, this is usually noticing "sales are up". However, we recommend you measure specifically which methods are producing the most sales per marketing dollar spent. A good marketing plan will include methods for measuring results.

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