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Guide to Marketing Mix Essentials for Startups

Give your budding business a boost with marketing and advertising

So you've got the greatest product or service in the world. Unless people know about it, your business will fizzle. Marketing and advertising is how you spread the word about what your company has to offer, and marketing services are a top priority for any new business. Once you embrace that concept and learn the ABC's of the marketing mix, you'll be laying the foundation for a successful operation. With a successful marketing and advertising plan you will:
Build awareness about your business through your own efforts or by using marketing firms.
Create your brand or image using business marketing materials and strategic advertising.
Develop your customer base for up-selling and cross-selling.
Use strong marketing and advertising messages that differentiate you from the competition.
Understand and identify the best marketing mix for your target audience.
Action Steps
The best contacts and resources to help you get it done

Establish a budget for your marketing mix
Typical expenses for a marketing mix include market research, marketing communications, advertising, publicity, events, promotions and marketing services consulting. According to the SBA, established businesses may get by with a marketing and advertising budget of 2 percent of gross sales, but as a start-up, you may need to devote 10 percent or even more of your expected gross sales to marketing and advertising.
I recommend: Check out a case study demonstrating how one small business set a budget for its marketing mix at SCORE.

Research your market and marketing mix
A first step is to identify your customers - who they are, what their needs are, where they shop, and what they spend. Marketing firms are experts at gathering this data. Professional marketing services will tell you that there are two types of market research: primary and secondary. Primary is research you conduct yourself via focus groups, Internet surveys, consumer polls, and more, often assisted by marketing companies. Secondary is research you buy from marketing firms or that you find in newspaper and magazine articles. When you learn who your customer is, then you can build a marketing mix to reach them.
I recommend: Purchase secondary market research reports from, collected from many marketing firms. For help with primary research, look up marketing services resources at Quirk's Marketing Research Review. Dig into targeted marketing services on, such as direct mail, business-to-business marketing and channel marketing.

Choose your marketing mix
Newspaper advertising? Postcard mailings? E-newsletters? Promotional products? Word-of-mouth? Decide on your mix of marketing and advertising that makes the most sense. If you suffer from analysis paralysis, consider professional marketing services to get you on the right path.
I recommend: Kick start your marketing and advertising brainstorming with "100+ Marketing Ideas" from the SBA. Find ideas for guerilla marketing techniques from expert Jay Conrad Levinson.

Put a marketing and advertising plan on paper
Writing a marketing and advertising plan is key to creating a campaign that meets your goals and stays within budget. Your business marketing plan should include basic information about your business products and services, positioning, your target market, your overall business marketing strategy and your market research. In addition, your plan needs to detail the ways you'll promote your business and how you'll measure the return on investment in marketing and advertising and on your marketing services.

I recommend: Discover what goes into a marketing and advertising plan at the SBA website, then find sample business marketing plans, a marketing plan outline, a glossary of terms, a marketing calculator and more at If you like the idea of a software program that will guide you through writing your plan, try popular business marketing plan software such as Marketing Plan Pro. Find more business marketing software at

Get professional help from marketing firms
Marketing companies will guide you through the entire process of defining your business marketing strategy, establishing an effective marketing mix and selecting the right marketing services for your budget.
I recommend: Find marketing firms, industry specific marketing firms and marketing companies specializing in corporate branding at

Tips & Tactics
Helpful advice for making the most of this Guide

Stay alert to trends that might impact your target market, product or business marketing strategy.
Hold a monthly business marketing meeting with employees or associates to discuss strategy, status, and to solicit marketing and advertising ideas.
Keep an eye on how the competition is marketing by monitoring ads in the local media. There are marketing services that can monitor the competition for you and send regular reports. Regularly reassess your relationship with your marketing firms to make sure the marketing services you receive meet your ever-changing needs.

By Frances Sharpe
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