Marketing, advertising, promotion … are these just different words for gambling? No.

Marketing your business is just as essential as keeping records and sleeping, eating and breathing customer satisfaction.

The type of marketing you choose to use will depend on the type of business you are involved in. Promoting your corner shop on the internet would be a waste of money, better spent by investing on in-store or window displays, whereas you can’t just pop down to Amazon, which only exists virtually, so all of their marketing budget is spent globally.


How long is a piece of marketing?

The next thing to consider after deciding where your small business fits and which part of the media is best to promote it, is how much to spend. As a very rough rule, you should be looking at between 3-10% of your annual spend. There is a huge difference between these two figures, but every business is different, even two corner shops in the same street, but they will both need to plan their marketing budgets throughout the year as a whole.

As a start-up, it makes solid business sense to begin with a splash, making the most of your novelty. You should be prepared to pay professional designers to design a logo and branding that will last. And if at first your marketing plan doesn’t succeed, do you increase the budget or slash it? There are so many variables involved in marketing. Look back over the past 12 months and find correlations between marketing spend and sales.


Fads and figures

There are spending spikes dotted around the year, such as Easter and Christmas, and these are constantly increasing. Do you embrace the American import known as Black Friday, slash prices and advertise like mad in November, or ignore it like an annoying fad? Loom bands, anyone? Many businesses will see these spikes reflected in their annual figures.

It may be that the company’s trade increases at Christmas or other celebratory times anyway, especially in the hospitality industry, so it is a good strategy to promote the business and offer deals in the quieter times in between them.


I want to be free

Any business will want to save money, and there are plenty of inexpensive, even free ways to promote it. A social media presence is practically essential these days, but there are many more ways to get free publicity. Sponsoring a local children’s football team, for instance, will get your company’s name in the local for free. Supporting a charity will work in a similar way, and it only needs a quick phone call to the local paper as they always welcome a good news story.

One butcher’s shop had a brilliant A-board outside, advertising its mince. For every occasion. There was FA Cup Final mince, election mince, royal wedding mince, St Wayne’s Day mince … it had a captive audience, so all that was needed was a little imagination.


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