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Marketing Strategies for Small Organisations

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When it comes to selecting a suitable marketing concept for your enterprise, one of the most decisive factors is the size of your company. In contrast to big organisations, there are a number of limitations for small organisations, which influence the type of marketing practices available to them. 


Some of the disadvantages for small firms are:

  • limited resources
  • lack of specialist expertise
  • limited impact on the market place
  • limited marketing knowledge
  • marketing tactics are limited in scale and scope
  • decision-making is reactive rather than proactive
  • limited, short-term or informal planning


Relationship marketing

Yet, many researchers have argued that the ideal marketing practices for a small business should not be scaled-down versions of the larger firms’ approaches. The smaller size can be a considerable strength that should be taken advantage of. One of the most obvious and important advantages is that small enterprises often have a personal knowledge of their customers and can easily adapt products and services to their needs.

Their marketing concept focuses on relationships, highly valuing customer satisfaction, which is key to retaining customers in the long term. It goes without saying that the strength and high quality of their products and services are paramount. Relationship marketing can lead to a better understanding of customer needs, word-of-mouth advertising and customer loyalty and thus benefit the enterprise.


These are the advantages of small enterprises:

  • creativity and innovation
  • relationship marketing competency
  • having a network of personal contacts
  • competency of the owner, willingness to learn and build upon competencies
  • flexibility in terms of production
  • the ability to sanction and execute decisions rapidly
  • close proximity to the market
  • capacity to operate on slim margins
  • niche marketing

Especially their ability to target a niche market can prove very lucrative, as these specialist markets are usually overlooked by large companies. However, should the niche become mainstream, small firms often have difficulties defending it against competitors. The failure rates are very high among small firms.

Mainstream marketing tactics such as advertising are usually beyond the reach of small enterprises, which is why they have a limited impact on the marketplace through the mass media. Instead, managers of small firms use cost-effective marketing tools such as guerilla marketing and social media marketing.


Guerilla marketing

Guerilla marketing means seeking creative and low-cost ways of marketing products and services. Considering the lack of many other resources, creativity and trying unusual approaches are key. This type of marketing depends on advertising, public relations, and surprises or stunts to reach consumers. Instead of national or international campaigns, it features personal communication. Interacting and building relationships with consumers is the desired outcome, rather than just sending out a message. One example is a flash mob, which serves to arouse curiosity.


Social media marketing

Interactive marketing is the result of the organisations’ active engagement with consumers via blogs and social media networks (e.g. Facebook, Twitter), video-sharing and picture-sharing sites (e.g. YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram). These allow both organisations and consumers to interact with each other and provide feedback. Customer reviews on websites are indispensable in this respect.
Further means of online marketing are advertising on social networks and email marketing. However, both of these need handling with care, as the response rates for such emails are very low and advertising on Facebook, for example, is not readily accepted by consumers.


Read Strategy, Marketing Plans and Small Organisations by Dr Breda Mccarthy to learn more about strategy and marketing plans for organisations.