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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 strategy

Independent retailers are a pretty tough bunch. They have survived seismic shifts on the high street, responded to rapidly changing consumer behaviour and grasped new opportunities online with both hands.

And as more shoppers discover small retailers online and increasingly choose to buy from local independents, shopkeepers of all kinds are more confident about the future than they might have realistically expected to be just a few years ago.

But that's not to say there aren't serious challenges to face. A broken business rates system, planning laws and even parking controls are all making life hard for high street retailers.

Clicks and mortar

That's why ecommerce has to be a part of every retailer's armoury, even if they have a thriving shop - what's known as the “clicks and mortar” approach. Customers want the choice and increasingly, they are choosing to shop from their sofas. The share of online retail sales will reach 21% by 2018 according to the Centre for Retail Research.

The big retailers offer everything from free deliveries on online orders to click and collect. It's all about convenience for shoppers - small retailers have to make sure they are making it easy for customers to support them by offering similar services.

The rise of the independent

The good news is that retail remains one of the biggest sectors in the UK and small shopkeepers are still an important part of this picture. According to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), wholesale and retail trade accounts for 35% of all SME turnover. What's more, the number of independent retailers has increased dramatically in recent years.

In short, the opportunities are there - but you'll have to be at the top of your game to take advantage of them.