Marketing a key to success for small businesses and entrepreneurs

In the current economic climate entrepreneurs are required to keep their businesses profitable, while spending as little money as possible. As a result, entrepreneurs should adopt an integrated approach to marketing their business, as the heart of a business’s success lies in its marketing strategy.

This is according to Justin Hawes, Managing Director of Scan Display Solutions and 2012 finalist of the Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year® competition, who says that marketing is essential for the growth of a small business.

“Marketing is a process by which a product or service is introduced and promoted to potential customers. Without marketing, a business may offer the best products or services in its respective industry, but potential customers would not know about it. This makes it a vital tool for any entrepreneur entering new markets,” says Hawes.

He says that within the industry there is also a perception that only larger, more established businesses need to adopt marketing strategies. “This perception is definitely incorrect. Businesses of all sizes need to be continually marketed, even in a small way, or it is unlikely that they will grow.”

Hawes says that the marketing world is consistently evolving, creating new ways to engage with consumers, as well as influence them to try new products and services. “These new channels may intimidate small business owners and young entrepreneurs from a technological perspective, but in the current economic climate communication channels such as social media platforms can be very effective, low-cost marketing tools.

Kobus Engelbrecht, Marketing Head of Sanlam Business Market and co -sponsor of the Sanlam/ Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year ® competition says that while marketers continue to enjoy new media and technology enabled tools, the fundamental marketing model itself has not changed. “People and businesses essentially still want useful products and services.”

Engelbrecht adds that without marketing, potential customers may never be aware of a business’s offerings and business may not be given the opportunity to progress and succeed. “Using marketing to promote your product, service and company provides your business with the best possible chance of being ‘discovered’ by prospective customers.”

He says that marketing also fosters an environment in the marketplace for healthy competition. “Without competition, recognised businesses will continue to dominate the market while lesser known, or new businesses, stand less of a chance of ever becoming successful.”

Hawes says that a marketing programme which gives SMEs the best chance of success often consists of a healthy mix of different forms of marketing, ranging from traditional means to online and social media channels.

He says that traditional marketing activities such as face-to-face communication should not be overlooked. “I really believe in the power of face-to-face communication and strongly advise that SMEs include exhibitions, conferences and networking functions in their strategies. Industry-related networking functions should also not be overlooked as these are cost-effective platforms for promoting a business.

“By spending a little bit of time and effort on marketing, entrepreneurs will see the benefit of investing in this area. In today’s competitive environment, marketing is a powerful tool that will help businesses stand out from the clutter,” concludes Hawes.