Marketing is by no means a small game, and marketing your small business to big success will require some dire attention to detail. A hefty amount of work goes solely into marketing an organization’s goods and services each year. Billions are spent on things like advertising, promotions, consumer surveys, and quality control to assure the thorough-put of an organization’s reach to its most valuable asset – the consumer.

The sunny side of this road is that we have come a long way in understanding the bridges between attracting consumers and making sales. This allows for a small business to learn from the previous failures and successes of its competitors. Outsourcing through more adept organizations, who are fervent in turning up qualitative and quantitative statistical research, is then a luxury to your small business.

Many of those going into business for the first time tend to believe that the more people they market to, the more sales they’re bound to make. While this may only seem logical to the average mind it is quite far from the truth in the world of small business marketing. You shouldn’t try to compare your small business with that of a multi-billion-dollar corporation like Coke where, to them, everyone is considered a potential customer. For your small business to grow and make a name for itself you will need to do the opposite. This means eliminating unnecessary marketing expenses on those groups of people who are not very likely to benefit your small business.

Finding Your Target Market

You need to become successful in your marketing efforts and drive up your sales, without incurring additional expenses or furthering your business in debt. That requires finding your target market. A target market is a well defined set of present and potential customers that your small business attempts to satisfy.

You will need to identify your target market and focus all of your marketing energy on that specific group. There are a number of analytical approaches to understanding and refining your target market depending, of course, on your product and business. However, it is important to be creative and open-minded when seeking out your target market. Many aspects of a target market may seem vague and obscured, at first, to the inexperienced marketer.

In defining your target market you will need to create what is called a marketing mix. The marketing mix combines the four variables – product, place, promotion and price – that are controlled by your business, and uses them in a manner which aims to satisfy your target market. The product variable is made up of all the qualities that are perceived by the customer from your product and have the potential of satisfying their wants. The place variable determines time, place, and possession value. This means distributing the right product to the right place, at the right time, and in the right quantities. The promotion variable focuses on communication between the marketer and the customer. Is your message getting across to your target customers effectively? If so, how are they reacting and how fast? These are important variables to note when effectively trying to promote your product. Finally, the price variable notes the amount of money or resources your business seeks from the buyer in exchange for the goods or services being sold. All four of these variables are what make up your entire marketing mix and must be coordinated and developed so that they may both satisfy your market and result in a profit for your small business.

Furthermore, you will need to understand the relevance of dividing your market in order to pursue effective targeted marketing for your small business. This is what we call ‘Market Segmentation‘. Every market can be segmented into a number of categories and subcategories. A few basic market segmentations, for example, would be geographic, demographic, psychographic, and product-related segmentation. The primary objective here is to identify all of the characteristics or traits your most promising customers have in common so that you may harness all of your business efforts on reaching those particular customers. This will involve nitpicking through the market and finding a market segment, or a smaller group of people or firms, that exists within a larger market and whose wants are currently not being filled by products already on the market.

The Mass Market Strategy

The mass market strategy assumes the target market to be any potential buyer of brands in a product category and offers a single marketing mix. The mass marketing strategy has been used by such large corporations as Ford, for example, even in the early 20th century to retain low production and distribution costs. Henry Ford offered only one marketing mix for all car buyers with the Model T automobile, which enabled him to become the lowest-cost mass producer of cars.

Times have changed though and today’s consumers are more demanding and expectant than ever. Pursuing a mass market strategy proves unreeling to the ill-capitalized firm. Mass marketing draws a great deal of risk and uncertainty when inexperienced or underprivileged.

Market Segmentation

As your small business begins to better understand its market, it will become second nature to practice market segmentation. Offering one or more marketing mixes to just one segment of a market might prove more resourceful than trying to conquer the entire market share. In this case, agility becomes the tradeoff to muscle.

Markets are often segmented based on geography. Geographic segmentation divides a mass market into such units as regions, nations, states, cities, and districts. For example, your small business may choose to target the sunny Florida state differently from the windy city of Chicago due to the climate for which their geographic locations afford them. This may result in two different market segments for a product category that holds a market in both geographic segments. Just as more stringent emissions laws in California cause auto makers to provide for a different market segment from the rest of the country, your small business too will become overpowered by geographic segmentation for all sorts of reasons.

Markets are also segmented on the basis of demographic variables. Demographic segmentation pertains to statistical data as in age, gender, race, nationality, education, occupation, and purchasing power. Your products can not only be marketed depending on where a potential buyer is situated, but also based on who they are and to what they are associated with. Power drinks are targeted mainly to athletes and male fitness fanatics. Apple computers target the youthful and creative individual. Centrum Silver vitamins are targeted to people over the age of fifty. The demographic classifications of your target market can go miles long and stories high or they can be short and resolute depending on how well you know your product and market.

Psychographic segmentation zeros in on social class, personality, and life-style. For example, the Oprah Winfrey show targets independent women. Harpo productions has committed a great deal of its marketing efforts in various psychographic segments by empowering female opinion. Also, the Mirage hotel and casino in Las Vegas, Nevada caters to the high-roller gambler’s life-style. These market segmentations are subject to a great deal of scrutiny, however, and it can be hard to clearly predict the scope of a psychographic market segment.

A firm may also divide a mass market based on the consumer’s amount of usage of a product or service, the type of usage involved, and what benefits the consumer is looking for. This is called Product-Related segmentation. For example Google AdWords, targets the direct marketer or low-budget small businesses looking to gain global, national, or even regional exposure for their business with the flexibility of controlling how much or how little they spend.