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Marketing your business

When you run a business, especially a small business, you will probably have many sleepless nights about how to do the two things that matter most :

  • How will I get new customers ?
  • How will I convert those one-off sales into customers that come back time and time again and therefore reduce the cost of getting the customer ?

The answers given by business people to both of these problems are very often wrong. If asked, many people believe that the answer to both the above questions is "advertising". The reason that this answer is wrong is that advertising is only one part of the process used to get new customers, and also get repeat sales from your existing customer base. To be successful in business you need to understand 'marketing'.

What is Marketing?

Marketing comprises a number of disciplines:

  • Internet Web Site creation and search engine positioning
  • Design of leaflets and brochures
  • Brand identity
  • Copywriting of marketing material
  • Public Relations
  • Photography of your products
  • Direct Mail / Marketing
  • Telemarketing and Telesales
  • Printing (business cards, leaflets, brochures etc)
  • Visiting Exhibitions
  • Survey/research of existing market place and your competition
  • And that original answer 'Advertising'

For example: you may take a space at an exhibition to show your range of new products, these products are shown on your website. To allow you to do this properly, you had some leaflets designed and printed that advertised your products and included photo's. Some of these photos are then shown on the website.

To get more information and possible leads you ask each visitor a few survey questions about the products and their needs.

You also run a prize draw (with a suitably impressive prize) where people drop a business card into a box and you plan on using these cards as leads for a direct mail and telemarketing campaign.

All of this is marketing.

What the above scenario is saying is that:

  • You are going to an exhibition where you knew your potential customers would be (you do know that don't you - if not why are you going ?).
  • You realise that the exhibition is probably more about building your company's public relations and brand recognition than it is about getting sales on the spot (any on the spot sales should be treated as a bonus unless you are actually selling items on the stand that people can take away)
  • You designed your new leaflets so that they are aimed at the people attending the exhibition
  • You ensured that anyone that you met went away with high quality printed photographic advertising and a way of contacting you after the event - the leaflets do have your contact details on don't they ?.
  • By talking to people at the exhibition you got some valuable contacts, and the names of some new possible customer for your mailing list.
  • The questionnaire gave you some valuable information that will help you to plan ahead.

This scenario is not just for business's that have large marketing budgets. Your local business club, chamber of commerce or industry group are likely to run a number of affordable exhibitions during the course of the year. You have to realise that being at an exhibition is not about immediate sales but is a way of preparing the ground for future sales. The costs of such an exhibition can range from just a couple of hundred pounds to several thousand depending on the venue, size of the stand and how many visitors are expected. You should not forget that the cost of the exhibition is not just the cost of the stand, you must include in the cost of any special printing, transport to the venue, hire of any equipment that you need (large computer monitors for example) and the cost of staff (you may be a sole trader but you still have to cost your time). By including all of this items and costs and balancing out the possible sales in the future (be realistic) you will have a good idea about how worth while the exhibition is going to be for you.


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