Compared to the CEO of a large corporation, a small business owner faces additional challenges when bringing a new product to the marketplace. One is brand recognition -- the smaller company not being as well known to potential customers as the large one. Lack of financial resources to devote to the marketing effort is another challenge. Despite these limitations, small companies constantly introduce new products because they are constantly innovating. A sound marketing plan coupled with a superior product allows a small company to compete against much larger ones.
The small business owner needs to conserve capital and spend money only on marketing strategies that have a high probability of securing significant numbers of customers. One approach is to research which methods are working well for other companies like his. His plan should take advantage of marketing methods that are very low cost, such as sending out press releases about the new product which may result in free publicity.
The marketing plan for the new product must include strategies for building customer awareness -- bringing the product to the attention of potential customers. Building awareness is difficult because consumers see and hear numerous marketing messages each day through many different media including print advertising, television advertising and the Internet. Marketing professionals refer to this challenge as being heard above the "noise" in the marketplace. If the company is effective at building awareness, the target customers will become curious about the product and want to learn more about its uses and benefits.
The small business owner must be able to clearly articulate why the product will be of benefit to the target markets he has selected. Benefits are often expressed as solving a problem for the customer or meeting a customer need. Benefits can include saving the customer time or money. The product may also help the customer get more enjoyment out of life, such as sporting goods that help the user be more competitive in his favorite sport. For products marketed to business, the marketing message many times stresses that they will improve the company's productivity.
Particularly if the small business owner has entrenched, larger competitors, when introducing a new product it is critical he determines what aspects of his product are superior to competitive products and emphasize these points of differentiation in the marketing message he delivers to his target market. He must also market the product based on his company's own strengths and not try to beat out the competition in areas where they are perceived by customers as having the clear advantage.
Excelling at customer service and maintaining high customer satisfaction provide immediate rewards through increasing the likelihood the current customer will purchase the product again. Encouraging word-of-mouth recommendations of the product from extremely satisfied customers is one of the least expensive and most effective marketing strategies a small business owner can use. Minimal cost is involved -- perhaps just rewarding customers for making these recommendations with discounts on future purchases. Recommendations are powerful. Consumers rely on the opinions of current users of the products -- associates, friends and family -- to determine whether they want to purchase them as well.