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One of the main questions I get when I say I work in the marketing field is “so what do you even do?“. This post aims to clarify some myths about marketing, discuss some of the benefits of marketing for small businesses and get you thinking about the fundamentals. Some topics will be touched on briefly and expanded in future posts, please subscribe so you stay up to date!

What is Marketing?

To fully understand the importance of marketing for your small business, it is necessary to understand what marketing is in the first place. ‘What is marketing?’ is difficult to answer mainly because the field is concerned with so many different yet intertwined aspects of business and so it is difficult to provide one specific definition. Nevertheless, I believe that the cornerstone of marketing is Analysis, Planning, Implementation & Control (APIC Model) which informs your Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) and the famous 4Ps (Product, Price, Promotion, Place); concepts I will talk about in future posts.

Below is a summary of how the APIC model affects your product (or service), the price of your product, the type of promotional activities you use,  where and how you sell your product and the types of marketing efforts you use to sell your product.

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Although this model has been criticised for being rigid and therefore unsuitable for our time, I believe that in the beginning stages of your business especially in Ghana, it is important to be strict with yourself so that you are able to measure your marketing efforts adequately. Once you get comfortable with your ROI (Return on Investment), you have found your target market and you have figured out what works and what does not, marketing will become a bit more intrinsic and less rigid.

Analysis: At this stage you should analyse the business environment you find yourself in as well as your own capacity to produce / provide the specified service and your expectations for the business. This is the time for soul searching, it may be tedious but it is extremely important because it maps out the path you want your business to follow. A full analysis is important when you are starting your business and whenever you are about to launch a new product or a new marketing campaign, it is important to go back to the drawing board and refresh your memory. Some questions to consider at this phase are: Is it an election year? Do consumers have extra disposable income?Are you selling a luxury product? Are consumers spending their disposable income on other necessities e.g. fuel for their generators or do they have extra money to spend on luxury goods?  Are you selling to the masses? Who is your competition? How are they marketing their product?

A helpful tool at this stage is a SWOT analysis, you can find a template here.

Planning: At this point you are planning your marketing activities, creating your budgets and your overall marketing strategy.

The essence of the planning stage is to answer these questions Where are we now? Where do we want to be? How might we get there Which way is best? How can we ensure arrival?What platforms will work best for your product and why? Are you going to focus on Social Media alone? Will you incorporate event marketing? What kind of tone of voice are you using? What is the message? What type of brand are you going for? What long term / short term goals do you have for the product and the business? How will your marketing efforts affect other departments e.g. operations? Do you have the capacity to handle more business which will be driven by your marketing? How much are you willing to spend on marketing each month? What metrics are you measuring at the end of your time frame?  
I will provide a template for creating a marketing budget and plan in my next blog post.

Implementation: Now it is time to turn your plans into actions.Consistency is key especially in your language, tone, colour schemes, photo quality, fonts and even your social media handles. Make sure you stick to your goals throughout the timeframe you are looking at, don’t change concepts in the middle of the time frame. However, you are able to play around with wording and image types so that you can measure the effects during the control phase.

Control: This is one of the most important stages which most people tend to forget. I will discuss different metrics for different objectives in a future post however, this stage is all about evaluating your efforts. What happened? How did it happen? What did not happen? Were your expectations met? What will you do better next time? What will you not do next time? Reporting is necessary (even if you are the only one who receives the reports). It allows you to stay on track with your goals and helps you visualise what needs to change in the future.

Note: Make sure you are not confusing marketing with sales! Sales is purely focused on selling a product/service in the short term to meet specific targets whilst marketing incorporates certain aspects of sales e.g. increasing revenue with other strategic objectives such as brand awareness and brand building in the long term.

Benefits of Marketing for Small Businesses

Marketing is crucial in the early stages of building a business when there are limited funds and resources, especially time and human capital although at this stage you might not see why.

Investing in marketing allows you to align your objectives and goals with the reality of the industry you find yourself in. Marketing allows you to strategize in order to provide the best type of product (or service) you can, depending on your goals, objectives and the market itself. This ‘best’ product or service might not necessarily at the best quality or the best price however, you will be able to strike a balance that suits your target market.

Marketing allows you to understand where you fall short (e.g. speed of delivery) but where you can make up for it (e.g. with excellent customer relations).Marketing allows you to relate to your customers on a level that they understand. Marketing is an investment whose benefits are reaped in the long-term.  Like the machinery and office space you need for operations, investing in marketing will allow you to understand how your office space should look that best portrays your brand to your customers. Marketing allows your office, website, Social Media pages and even yourself etc to be a visual representation of your brand, your goals, your mission and your objectives.

The next post also will be housed under Marketing Strategy and I will discuss how to develop a marketing strategy and provide some tools to help you with a tailored marketing strategy for your small business. I will also provide a template for creating a marketing budget for your business.

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If you are interested in reading more on the topics above, I recommend the following

Principles & Practice of Marketing – David Jobber, Marketing Management. Analysis, Planning &  Implementation, and Control – Philip Kotler

You can also read a little more about me  and why I started this blog. If you are finding it difficult to work through your goals, objectives and analysis, feel free to email me, mfsbghana@gmail.com I am available for marketing consultation. Thank you for reading, please subscribe so you stay up to date with new posts on MFSB Ghana. Don’t forget to follow MFSB on Facebook & Twitter as well!

Please feel free to share your comments, thoughts, opinions and questions below!

Until next time,

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