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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?

Marketing tools and opportunities are more accessible and more affordable than ever for small businesses. But any marketing activity takes time and for the cash-strapped small business owner, time is money.

There are so many ways to do-it-yourself when it comes to marketing your business today - from social media and pay-per-click advertising to e-newsletters and events. However, cost-effective marketing is about testing and fine-tuning; and getting a measurable return on the time and money you spend on marketing.

Take a disciplined approach

It's tempting, when you don't have a lot of budget for marketing, to simply try things on the basis that anything is better than nothing. But lack of budget is not an excuse for scattergun marketing. Anything you do can and should be planned and measured.

So-called “free” marketing methods - such as social media - must be approached with discipline. That means you need to set objectives, monitor time spent and measure results. Thanks to analytics software, this is easy to do.

Know your limits

The dilemma for many business owners, though, is when the DIY approach is actually less cost-effective than getting outside help. A professional website design, proper branding, strategic use of search engine optimisation - all these are jobs that business owners frequently try themselves before realising they need more expertise. Specialist freelancers often provide the most cost-effective solution here.

Every business is different. With a wealth of ways to reach your audience, it's up to you, the business owner, to investigate which marketing methods will work best and to make sure they are delivering results - so your spend isn't wasted.