Sponsored by the U. S. Small Business Administration
The Madison County Chamber of Commerce



A primary concern of any business is to get and keep customers. And the key to obtaining and keeping customers is an effective marketing program.

Marketing is the total of all business activities directed towards that goal. Marketing includes having the correct merchandise in the right location(s) at the right time(s), using appropriate selling and promotion techniques, and setting the proper pricing levels.

It is very easy for the small business owner to find excuses for neglecting marketing. Most small businesses operate on very tight budgets, and many owners consider marketing as something they can't afford. However, in the highly competitive business world, marketing is a key success factor that businesses can't afford to do without! Successful small business owners know that even an excellent line of products will not sell if customers don't know that the products exist or where to find them. Promotional activities are extremely important to acquaint potential customers with your products and your place of business.

Very few products end up being so "electrifying" that they can successfully sell themselves and defy the need to have marketing support. And most of these end up being only temporarily "electrifying" without the sustaining power to support a successful business.

If you're one of the many small business owners who operate without a marketing program, you're allowing many potential customers to patronize competitors since they are unaware of your products or services or prices or location. You can be assured that your competitors are highly appreciative that your lack of marketing activity is providing them with added sales plus a few extra trips to the bank to deposit the extra sales dollars.

In addition to advertising and other forms of promotion, there are a number of internal actions you can take to maximize your ability to obtain and keep customers.

For a retail shop, it is imperative that merchandise is kept up-to-date. Undesirable or outmoded or untimely merchandise does not sell, and can downgrade the reputation of your store with your customers. Having the right products at the right time is essential. Winter clothing will not attract customers in the summer time. Easter baskets won't sell after Easter. Hula-Hoops may have been fantastic sales items during the Hula-Hoop craze, but were worthless shortly thereafter. Swimsuits are an unwanted item during the fall months. Make sure you maintain a constant vigilance to insure that you are providing the merchandise necessary to attract customers, and take steps to clear any undesirable or outdated material out of your showroom.

Pricing is highly important. A store with overpriced merchandise will not survive. The price must be right or consumers will quickly turn to other sources with their business. Do you have a process for making sure your prices are competitive? If not, make sure you periodically visit the stores of your competitors, continually review their advertising for pricing comparisons, and take action accordingly.

Location of a sales or service business is of utmost importance. Even a store with excellent products and promotions and prices will not be successful if there is something seriously wrong with the location. Is your business easy to find? Is adequate parking available? Is it located in an area highly frequented by shoppers? Do you have an easily seen attractive sign? Is your business compatible with surrounding businesses and residents?

Remember that if people can't find the business because it is in an inconvenient or remote or difficult-to-find location, they'll end up being someone else's customers! If they won't go to your location because of traffic or safety or parking problems, they'll again end up being someone else's customers. And if they've never heard of your firm, they obviously will take their business elsewhere.

Small businesses should have a marketing plan that they follow diligently in a continuous effort to maintain and grow their customer base. Such plans need not be overly expensive and can be tailored to the specific needs and budget factors associated with the business.

Contact us by calling The Madison County Chamber of Commerce at (765) 642-0264 or write to:

Union Bldg, Suite 211
1106 Merdian Street
Anderson, IN 46016

You may also send E-mail to us at