Every business needs to market their brand, products and services. Have you done enough to create awareness, attract new customers and build relationships?
Marketing is a process where you (the business owner) identify your unique selling proposition (USP), profile your target market, communicate your brand and your USP to the target market, persuade them that your products and services can satisfy their current and future needs, and your company is here to nurture loyal customers.
The marketing process is long, sometimes costly, and definitely more comprehensive than just ‘advertising and selling’. Occasionally, marketing also requires unwavering commitment from you and your staff.
At Tax Agility, we are small business accountants working with entrepreneurs from all walks of life. Our objective is to help small businesses flourish by managing their business accounts accurately and effectively. In addition, we provide a range of business consulting services that aim to help companies reaching their goals. Like our clients, we are small business owners ourselves, and we see marketing as a key discipline which allows us to communicate what we do and build lasting relationships with our clients. With this in mind, we spoke to several marketing specialists and put together this article which we hope could help our clients and other small businesses to establish a stronger competitive advantage through marketing.
The seven ‘Ps’ of marketing
The seven ‘Ps’ refer to a set of recognised marketing tactics which small business owners could use in any combination to create a successful marketing strategy. The seven aspects are:
Product refers to the goods and services you are selling – naturally, you want to sell goods and services that are in demand. Successful small business owners tend to spend time researching what the target market needs (or wants), and can highlight the features and advantages of their products and services to the target group, convincing them to purchase.
When marketing products or services, bear in mind that you cannot give false or misleading information to customers. It pays to understand the law on product safety and demonstrate compliance. You should also prepare for (and respond to) product safety incidents and take up appropriate product liability insurance.
Here’s a quick example: one of our clients found out that there is a market for toy robots in the UK and he imports them to sell. In his marketing campaign, he highlights the physical features of the robots and shows how these robots can interact with growing children (through voice, touch and/or remote control). All toy robots he sells also comply with the provisions of the Toys Regulations 2011, meaning they bear the CE mark, satisfy the ‘essential safety requirements’ in the regulations, be properly marked to ensure traceability, and be accompanied by instructions for use, along with warnings where necessary.
As consumers ourselves, we all know that a product or a service is only worth what the customers are prepared to pay for it. The price has to be ‘right’ and perhaps even competitive, but not necessary the cheapest. Ideally, the optimal price is what your customers are willing to pay and it also allows you to make a profit (after covering your costs).
Accordingly, setting a suitable pricing strategy for your products and services take some planning. You probably need to spend a good amount of time reviewing your costs – fixed and variable – as well as knowing your break-even point. The break-even point can help you to work out how much you need to sell before you make a profit and how profitable a particular product or service is. If you need help with business costs, talk to a trusted small business accountant like our team here at Tax Agility.
Sometimes, you may choose to enforce the value of your products or services through a higher price tag. This could be a wise approach, especially if the value you provide is not something that your competitors can easily copy.
This is about the promotional activities you undertake to make your customers aware of your products and services. They can include direct marketing, telemarketing, above-the-line advertising, PR activities such as media releases, sponsorship, as well as short-term sales.
Successful promotional campaigns tend to tell a story, so give your brand a story – why it exists, why it cares about customers and the world, for instance. Savvy customers today prefer to engage with businesses that they can connect and build direct relationships with, so don’t be afraid to show your passion, talk about the values you stand for, and why your business is the one to choose.
Keeping up with the times, your promotional activities may include an online element too. You can find out more about online marketing by following the link to the article Small Business: Win customers with a strong online presence.
The place refers to where your customers are able to see and purchase your products and services. The place may be your website, an online marketplace, a physical store, via other distributors, or a combination of the above.
If you are selling your products and services in a physical store, then you probably know the importance of using effective visual display to create an identity and maximise sales. Retail display is actually a part of branding, helping to make a statement about your business as well as attracting prospects to purchase your products and services.
If you are selling online, then you know the benefits of using excellent photographs and concise product descriptions, along with online optimisation. You may also consider using ‘behaviour targeting’ to show your products and services to your target market throughout their buying process – from needs or problem recognition, information search, evaluation of alternatives, making a decision, to purchasing.
The fifth P here refers to everyone in your company, including yourself and your staff. The aim here is to recruit the right people who are as committed to the company as you are. Devoted staff will champion excellent customer service, which in turn will help you win referrals and grow your business.
To retain good staff, you may need to provide adequate training and skill development opportunities, along with suitable motivators (which may or may not be monetary).
A good tip that our small business accountants often share with entrepreneurs is to look at the products and services with the highest profit margins, and check to see if they are adequately supported by your staff.
This refers to the processes involved in delivering your products and services to the customers. It ranges from the process to ordering new stock, ensuring products and services are delivered in a timely manner, allowing customers to give feedback, handling negative customer reviews, and regularly reviewing your financial statements to make sure that your company is on track.
Good processes will undoubtedly increase efficiency, thereby saving your company time and money. On the other hand, inadequate processes (or lack of) may create confusion and mistakes, risking a vicious circle that may lead to business failure.
7. Physical evidence
Physical evidence refers to everything your customers see when interacting with your company. Ideally, everything they see should reinforce a positive image of your company and boost their confidence in your brand, products and services.
Accordingly, think about every aspect, from how you package your products, the physical environment where you provide or sell the products or services, to how your staff act in the premises.
Marketing and growth
While the above seven ‘Ps’ of marketing are vital points for small business owners to consider before creating a marketing strategy, we must also point out the financial aspect. For instance, your marketing plan should have a clear financial objective, like how a campaign can help you achieve a net profit of x through sales of product y within the next 12 months.
Your marketing plan should also include campaign costs, which must be affordable by your business. From time to time, we do hear stories that business owners spending most of their money on branding or sponsorship, hoping to make a big impact but only to find little return.
As the financial aspect is critical, do talk to an experienced small business accountant like our team here at Tax Agility. We can help to review costs associating with your products and services, find ways to reduce wastage, calculate the break-even point, make profitability projections, among others.
We can also help you with the followings:
- Accounting & Bookkeeping: leave your day-to-day finances to us. We will also provide monthly management accounts, prepare statements and help you set-up cloud accounting.
- Tax: if you are tax-efficient, you will have more money to invest, expand and create jobs in your community. Let us help you with tax planning, tax computation and tax returns.
- VAT: from VAT returns to manging VAT on import and export goods, we take care of them so you don’t have to.
- Payroll: as your team grows, outsource your payroll administration to us so that you and your team can continue to enjoy accurate and on-time payslips every month.
- Management consultancy: take your business forward with practical advice based on financial data and benchmark analysis.
Call our small business accountants today on 020 8108 0090.
Alternatively, you can use the contact us form to get in touch.
You may also like:
- Small Business: Managing business risk
- Small Business: Win customers with a strong online presence
- Small Business: Planning and optimising your workforce
- Small Business: The benefits of long-term planning
- Small Business: The benefits of networking
- Small Business: How to attract investors
- Small Business: Use technology to your advantage
- Small Business: 5 ways to get new customers
This blog is a general summary. It should not replace professional advice tailored to your specific circumstance.