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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?

Using CRM to build customer relationships

A good knowledge of your customers enables you to develop marketing strategies that target their specific needs - and increase your sales. But how do you safely get, store and sort customer data? Emma Allen finds out how a customer relationship management (CRM) system can boost your revenue

A customer relationship management system can be a powerful tool in your marketing armoury. By recording your customer's product likes and dislikes, their spending patterns and their location, age and gender, CRM software enables you to build up a detailed picture of their tastes, needs and buying habits.

This in turn enables you to segment your customer base into groups of buyers with different tastes or budgets. You can identify your most profitable customers, for example, or promising prospects, and target them with marketing messages and offers devised just for them.

If the message - and its timing - is right, you could improve your sales conversion rates considerably.

Why invest in a small business CRM system?

"CRM is a customer-focused business strategy designed to optimise revenue, profit and customer satisfaction," explains Jason Nash, Microsoft's CRM product marketing manager. "The more you understand your customers, the easier it is to target new prospects and boost sales.

"If you have your marketing database, your sales pipeline and delivery going through your CRM system, you can monitor the relationship and accurately measure your return on investment," he continues. "By using data effectively, you can also drive sales from an existing customer base, rather than spend a lot of money on trying to attract new clients."