Sales growth is a key goal for any small business, and a well thought-out marketing strategy can be the engine that drives sales. Realise though, that marketing and advertising are different things. Marketing is the overall process of conceiving and creating products and services that satisfy an existing or anticipated need or want of consumers, to the benefit of the business. Advertising is a function of marketing, namely, letting the market know the product exists, and doing so in such an appealing way that hopefully, encourages demand and hence, sales. The classic, key elements of marketing are known as the ‘4 Ps’, being Product Price Place (Distribution) Promotion The objective of marketing is to get these four elements right, however, it’s a significant challenge. In addition, marketing is just one of the three main challenges faced by small businesses, along with cash flow and staffing, and around 10% of projected turnover should be devoted to it. There are several core marketing issues that small business owners need to consider. The first is to have a clear idea about the product or service you are offering, including whether you are aiming to be a specialist or a market leader, and how your product and pricing compare to your competitors. The next phase of a marketing plan is to develop a clear understanding of your target market. Many small businesses try to be ‘all things to all people’, and in the process finish up being nothing to anyone. Remember, small business has a great advantage in its ability to be creative and flexible, for example, offering hours of business outside the corporate ones of 9 to 5. Any such point of difference should form part of your marketing campaign. An online marketing presence, such as a website, can be highly effective because your message can readily reach so many people who are actively looking for your product. Indeed, with most businesses these days a good website is arguably essential. Furthermore, more traditional forms of advertising may need to meet strict criteria to be equally as effective. Nowadays there are great tools available such as Convincely that help businesses test a few website designs until you find one that empowers the most funnel conversion. Whichever player can build and enhance their digital presence almost real-time will have the upper hand in market expansion. When it comes to creating your advertisements, it’s advisable they involve a single selling proposition rather than a smorgasbord of messages. They should also feature a compelling offer and have a clear call to action, for example, who to contact for more details, and how and where to buy. That said, advertising may need to be repeated frequently, which can make it costly. Effective marketing and advertising are key ingredients in the success of innumerable small businesses, and with a range of private companies offering low cost marketing mentoring services, it can be money well spent getting some professional help and advice in the efforts to build your business.