Home » Business » Home-Based Business

Marketing for the Brick & Mortar Business

Aug 17, 2007
Deciding to start a small business is the easy part. Especially if you're passionate about your product or service, it's easy to get caught up in the initial excitement of your launch.

Brick and mortar businesses (those that rely on a physical location such as a store front) in particular, are especially vulnerable to the temptation to simply open their doors and let the customers come in. In the good old days that was enough.

But not anymore.

Today's consumers are savvy and busy, which means they're unlikely to stumble across your business. And that means you are opening your small business in a time of great challenge and great opportunity.

Internet vs. Brick and Mortar

While there are parallels between marketing an internet-based business and marketing a location-business (commonly called a bricks and mortar), there are differences as well. By spending a little time doing some front-end research, you can spend your marketing time and money in the most cost-effective and efficient way possible.

Who is Your Customer?

The first thing you need to ask yourself, in any business, is, "Who is my customer?"

This might seem elementary, but in order to be truly effective you have to go beyond the basics. For example, if you're running a private plane charter business, knowing that your customer frequently travels overnight for business isn't going to give you all the information you really need to market your small business.

How old is your average customer? Is your customer, generally speaking, male or female? In which financial demographic is your client? What does he/she read?

By answering a few questions like those listed above, you might come up with a quick profile that indicates your client base is made up mostly of men between the ages of 45-60. They're wealthy, making an average of over $250k per year. They read The Wall Street journal, Newsweek and Forbes and don't watch a lot of TV.

If you know your client pretty well (and you probably do, since you're opening a business in which they're the target!), you will probably be able to come up with a good profile on your own. If not, you can contact direct response companies and get demographics for markets similar to yours.

Either way, by knowing your client, you now know where to focus your efforts.

Ya Gotta Spend Money to Make Money

But that doesn't mean you have to spend a lot of money! By now you should already have a preliminary marketing budget in mind.

Taking the information you've gathered in your client profile, think about the places your client is likely to visit and the things he/she is likely to do. Using the charter commuter plane example above, you might decide your client is likely to eat in expensive area restaurants, stay overnight in upscale hotels, rent cars for shorter trips (or even limos).

One of the best way to leverage your marketing dollar is to contact other businesses that share your client demographic and see if you can work together to pool your resources. Printing costs can be a lot less than you imagine (you could even print material yourself with a quality printer), and you can easily put together a brochure or coupon booklet aimed at the busy executive that includes phone numbers and service breakdowns for area restaurants, clubs, hotels and limo.

Your local Chamber of Commerce is also a great place to start marketing. Joining is usually very inexpensive (less than $500) and gives you access to networking functions, reduced cost advertising, and sometimes a mention on the Chamber's website. In most cases you will also have access to a list with the business names of the other members - which is another name for built in prospects!

Using the Internet - When you're Not on the Internet

Even if yours is a brick and mortar business, leveraging the widespread appeal and reach of the internet is cheap and effective. In other words, it's just good business!

It is a rare individual who doesn't use their computer on a daily basis, and having a presence on the internet can give your customer confidence that yours is a "real" business and not just a guy working out of his garage - even if you're just a guy working out of his garage!

There are quite a few sites online that offer free or inexpensive websites. In most cases you can develop a simple brochure site by walking through pre-existing templates and plugging in font, color and text preferences. Most of these services will take you less than a day or two to set up, and even if all you have is a list of services and a little blurb about what you do, it can make you seem more established than a company without a website. Plus you get to put your web address on your new business cards!

The Key

Thousands of small businesses open every day. Some succeed, most fail. The difference, the key, is marketing.

All of the techniques used in the charter plane example can be put to use in any demographic. If your client is a truck driver who eats fast food twice a day, that tells you something useful, too. Using that example you might utilize billboards, local newspapers, or radio as method for getting the word out about your business.

It doesn't really matter what type of business you have - a little research on the front end will pay big dividends on the back.
About the Author
John Edmond worked for many years in insurance and finance and now writes on Small Business Marketing . Join our Newsletter" and get 5 ebooks completely FREE of Charge.
Rating:
Please Rate:
(Average: Not rated)
Views: 139
Print Email Report Share
Article Categories