Growing your business through community marketing

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English: A commuter cyclist in the London morn...
English: A commuter cyclist in the London morning rush hour, kitted out in specialist cycling gear (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A local Italian-style restaurant has been operating out of the same location for a number of years but in recent times it became neglected by the previous owner. The new owner has upgraded the washroom and toilets, modernised the kitchen and refurbished the main dining area. All of these are expenses which the new owner and his partners expect to recoup.

The restaurant owner has installed a large bicycle rack for the many cyclists that are starting to come to his restaurant on Saturdays and Sundays. The number of weekend cyclists has grown exponentially. The restaurant is located just above where the cyclists gather near the cycling trail that runs along the Braamfontein Spruit. This restaurant owner has identified a big school of fish which he can catch on weekends. All he has to do is reel them in by making his restaurant cyclist-friendly and catering for their dietary needs. No expensive advertising, high-priced public relations consultants or web designers required.

A whole new niche market has opened to this restaurant without needing to spend anything on marketing. All the owner has had to do is to think through what will appeal most to the cyclists and provide it.

Marketing is a term that is so loosely used that it almost can substitute for the word advertising. But marketing is a bigger concept in that it includes everything that a business does for its products and service to make it known, accessible, targeted and available to potential customers at the right price. All of this forms part of the value proposition for customers whether they seek value for money, style, solutions to their problems or fulfilment of their needs, wants and desires.

Generating awareness for your business is one part of marketing that in a normal sense would include paid-for advertising in the media including print, radio, television and online. But a small business, especially in this economy when small businesses are trying to maintain cash flow and manage profitability, the owner need to look for ways to spend as little as possible on generating awareness but get the highest or maximum return.

Some small business owners believe in spending no money on any form of advertising and are convinced that the sign outside their store is enough to attract potential customers. For other businesses that are not located on main street or in a shopping centre with streams of traffic some sort of advertising is required. This may involve word-of-mouth, a website, email marketing, direct mail, radio spots on your local radio station, social media such as Facebook and Twitter and sponsoring small local charity or youth events.

Growing your business by generating awareness about who you are and what you offer can help reduce your worry about cash flow and managing profitability once you get going and do something about attracting more customers.

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