Many small businesses wonder if they can afford to spend money on marketing. But the real question is: can your business afford not to spend money on marketing?

Customers are the lifeblood of every business. Everything you do to keep your existing customers and to attract new ones comes under the definition of marketing. As a small business you might struggle to compete with some of the big firms , but that doesn’t mean you can’t put together a marketing campaign that will help you to stand out from your rivals.

Here are five tips to help you develop a sharp message on a tight budget:

1. Set your objective
Every good marketing plan needs to have an objective, in terms of an outcome you want it to achieve. The most successful plans may  have just one goal. Too many and your marketing campaign may quickly become muddled.
When defining your objective start with questions like these:

  • Is it to create new leads?
  • Is it to retain clients?
  • Is it to boost your turnover or profits?

2. Know your target market
Next, you need to think about who is the target audience for your campaign. Start by asking yourself a few basic questions:

  • Who does my product appeal to?
  • Why will they use it?
  • How is it different from what other firms offer?

You should  make sure that your target audience is big enough to sustain your business, or at least justify the expense of your marketing campaign. You should be able to establish that fairly quickly with some basic market research.

3. Know your competitors
It’s not a sign of weakness to see what your rivals are up to. It’s important to know what they do, so you can sharpen up your own act and also make it clear to your target customers what sets you apart from your competitors.

Try to focus your mind with these few questions:

  • Who are my main competitors?
  • What are my main strengths and weaknesses?
  • What are their main strengths and weaknesses?


4. What’s your message?
You will want to engage your target audience in an interesting way. Try to be original to ensure your firm or product stands out from the crowd. Define what it is that you want to get across in your campaign: perhaps yours is a family firm with strong values or one dedicated to good service when everyone else is focused on price? The best campaigns also give a sense of a company’s personality, because customers often like to identify with firms that they do business with.

5. What’s your medium?
How you deliver your message is just as important as the message itself. There’s no point in developing a great marketing campaign if the people you want it to reach don’t see it. Find out which is the most effective channel for communicating with your target customers as part of your research: emails, flyers, an ad in your local paper or trade press, or perhaps a Facebook or Twitter campaign.