Why Small Business Marketing Plans
Keep New Businesses Afloat

by Dave Smith

Small business marketing plans are essential for all startup businesses, including home-based retirement businesses. If you're retired and starting a business from home you might be tempted to just "dive in" because, gosh, how hard could it be? That attitude is probably the single reason why most new businesses fail in their first 5 years. Real home-based businesses need real plans to be successful.

If you're like most people, you've never created a marketing plan before. It sounds scary and intimidating, like a dark art practiced by a secret society open only to those with an MBA. Don't panic! I'm going to demystify marketing for you right now.

We're all familiar with markets. A market is where buyers and sellers engage in a transaction. Sometimes markets are physical locations, like stores. Other times they are less tangible, like the job market and the stock market. Markets are governed by the most famous rule of economics, supply and demand.

Supply and Demand

You can think of supply as the collection of all possible solutions to a particular problem. For example, let's say my "problem" is that I want an orange right now, but I have none in my house. What are the solutions to my problem?

  • I can go buy an orange from a grocery store.
  • I can eat a different food available in my house.
  • I can do nothing.

There are two lessons here.

  1. If you're selling oranges, understand that people can buy other things that are acceptable substitutes. Perhaps some fresh squeezed lemonade will satisfy my citrus craving. Competition doesn't just come from other orange growers, it comes from other options.
  2. Consumers can do nothing. Yes, that's a possible solution, and an important one for you to remember when you create your small business marketing plan. Not every "problem" is important enough to demand a resolution.
Demand is the total need for a particular product or service, which could be solving multiple problems. Using oranges again, who needs them?
  • Other people who want to eat oranges.
  • Businesses that use oranges to create a finished product, such as orange juice.

I'm sure there are myriad uses for oranges, but I don't know them off the top of my head. Finding out what "problems" the orange solves is part of market research.

Your Small Business Marketing Plan

What I've talked about so far is the foundation of your retirement small business marketing plan. Even though this is basic stuff, most people never get this far in their planning. It's no wonder most new businesses don't survive!

In order to stay afloat, you have to know what "problem" you are solving with your product. You have to know what other solutions are available, which represent direct and indirect competition. You have to determine who has this "problem" and why your solution is the preferred one. You have to find these people and let them know that you have a solution to their problems.

At a high level it seems pretty simple, but the devil is in the details.

©Dave Smith 2011 Used by permission

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