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A marketing strategy will help you identify your best customers, understand their needs and implement the most effective marketing methods.

The internet has transformed business marketing. No matter what you do, the internet is likely to be at the heart of your marketing strategy.

Social media is firmly established as a marketing tool. Having a presence opens up new lines of communication with existing and potential customers.

Good advertising puts the right marketing message in front of the right people at the right time, raising awareness of your business.

Customer care is at the heart of all successful companies. It can help you develop customer loyalty and improve relationships with your customers.

Sales bring in the money that enables your business to survive and grow. Your sales strategy will be driven by your sales objectives.

Market research exists to guide your business decisions by giving you insight into your market, competitors, products, marketing and your customers.

Direct marketing can be a highly successful way to generate sales from existing and new customers. Find out how to target them in the best way.

Exhibitions and events are valuable for businesses because they allow face-to-face communication and offer opportunities for networking.

PR

Favourable media coverage can bring a range of business benefits. But how do you attract the attention of editors, broadcasters and journalists?

Online marketing

Thanks to the proliferation of clever apps for smart phones, it's easier than ever to stay productive while you're out of the office.

You can do nearly anything on your smart phone, from checking emails and arranging meetings to tweeting and working on documents.

The range of apps available to you will depend on what kind of mobile device you have. However, most popular apps are available for Apple iPhones and iPads, as well as Android phones and tablets.

If you use a Microsoft Windows Phone or a BlackBerry device, you may find that you have a smaller selection of apps from which to choose.

Which are the best apps for businesses?

There are apps for everything. There are apps to help you organise your task lists and prompt you with reminders. There are apps to help you remember your passwords. There are also apps to help you access and share files. You can even organise your thoughts with mind-mapping apps.

Social networking apps allow you to keep up with the conversations on Twitter and manage your activity on Facebook, LinkedIn and other social networks.

There are also many location-based apps. These use GPS technology to help you find where you are going and also to show potential customers where your business is. (Always forgetting where you parked? Some apps allow you to tag the spot.)

Can I develop my own app?

Many businesses have developed their own apps. However, think carefully before you create one for yourself or your customers.

If you want to build an app for you and your staff to use, there's an excellent chance that an app already exists to do what you need. If you haven't found it yet, it might just be that you haven't searched enough.

Alternatively, a mobile app can be a good way to build a closer relationship with your customers, but only if it delivers something they want and can't get elsewhere.

With over 1.5m apps available for Apple devices alone, yours has to be really special to stand out. It's easy to spend a lot of money on an app that attracts very few users, so think carefully and do plenty of research before going ahead.

Also, remember that an app can only work on the type of device for which it is designed. It takes significant effort to create an app for all the major mobile platforms.

For most smaller businesses, it usually makes sense to invest in a website that functions properly on mobile devices. Once you've done that, you can consider whether an additional app will really help your company.