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For some small medium businesses (SMBs), 2014 has been a bumper year. Everything that could go right, has gone right. Congratulations to those who have experienced their best year to date. For others, it has been a battle. This could be for many reasons but a common problem amongst SMBs is their marketing plan. Unless you are working in the retail world, the next few weeks generally results in a slowing down of business, and if that is the case for you, maybe it is time to review your marketing plan for 2015. After all, you can have the best product in the world, or offer an exclusive service, but if you are not reaching your desired target audience, chances are that you are not marketing your product or service to its maximum potential.  

10 tips for marketing strategy

1. Offer your product or service for free

A lot of SMBs shudder at this thought but if you are going back to basics and want to create market share dominance, think carefully about the possibility of offering your product or service for free. Now, this can be packaged many ways, such as a 2-for-1 offer, or bundled with other products or services. At the very least you will be creating new customer awareness that should lead to future direct sales.

2. Get to know your customers

You may have a small consumer base for your product or service, but they are going to give you the best feedback about what they do and don’t like. Organise focus group research or talk to them (briefly) immediately after they have purchased your product or used your service.

3. Understand your marketing environment

There is no point in having the most expensive product or service if the country is headed into a recession. Be aware of the macro marketing economic environment and tailor your product or service to match, even if it is just a short-term strategy to keep you afloat in difficult economic circumstances.

4. Invest in your staff

The reality is that your staff are at the forefront of how the public perceive your product or service. If you don’t invest in them, chances are the message is not getting across about how wonderful your product or service is. Train them and believe in them to be one of the brand selling points.

5. Review your marketing plan

It is quite common to have a strategic marketing plan either as part or separate from your business plan. But if your plans haven’t worked out in 2014, best to review and revise your strategy for 2015 to make it more pertinent to market demands.

6. Seek outside expert advice

It is sometimes good to get someone outside your immediate sphere of influence to review what you are doing. Hiring a marketing or business consultant to help you improve sales could prove to be the catalyst you need to excel in 2015.

7. Create your own event

If you want to stand out from the crowd, considering creating your own event and launch it with sufficient publicity so people know about it. Examples of well-known events include "Movember", which has raised a lot of money for charity, and "First Tuesday", where London entrepreneurs, VC's and Angel investors meet on the first Tuesday of every month over drinks to discuss business ideas and potential fundraising. Nothing excites a consumer more than something new, which they will benefit from.

8. Network

It is very easy to get caught up in your own world but if you want to expand your product or service, consider attending more networking events, even if that means simply logging into a webinar. Get out more, see what everyone else is doing and more ideas will come flooding back to you.

9. Make sure your business is easy to deal with

Nothing will turn a customer off quicker than difficulty in acquiring your product or using your service. If the process is elongated in any way, or a difficult staff member is preventing you from greater sales, you need to review the whole process from start to finish and make the necessary amendments.

10. Podcast yourself

It is becoming increasingly popular to podcast your product or service, which has unlimited potential, and it is very cheap to do so. Think about interviewing other experts in your field to give your company status and to offer something meaningful to the general public.

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