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A marketing strategy will help you identify your best customers, understand their needs and implement the most effective marketing methods.

The internet has transformed business marketing. No matter what you do, the internet is likely to be at the heart of your marketing strategy.

Social media is firmly established as a marketing tool. Having a presence opens up new lines of communication with existing and potential customers.

Good advertising puts the right marketing message in front of the right people at the right time, raising awareness of your business.

Customer care is at the heart of all successful companies. It can help you develop customer loyalty and improve relationships with your customers.

Sales bring in the money that enables your business to survive and grow. Your sales strategy will be driven by your sales objectives.

Market research exists to guide your business decisions by giving you insight into your market, competitors, products, marketing and your customers.

Direct marketing can be a highly successful way to generate sales from existing and new customers. Find out how to target them in the best way.

Exhibitions and events are valuable for businesses because they allow face-to-face communication and offer opportunities for networking.

PR

Favourable media coverage can bring a range of business benefits. But how do you attract the attention of editors, broadcasters and journalists?

What to do when a competitor cuts its prices

 

When times are tough, some businesses react by discounting to attract more customers. But just because a rival has slashed their prices, it doesn't mean that you should too

Start by considering why a competitor has lowered their prices. Are they new to the market and trying to distinguish themselves by offering the cheapest product or service? Are they launching a new value range because this is what the market wants, or have they been forced to slash prices to try and boost dwindling sales? They might not have the same reasons as you for considering a price cut.

Before lowering your prices, you need to be confident that discounting will at least protect your profit - if not increase it - and that you are not just giving your margin away in price cuts. In some cases, it might even be more profitable to sell fewer products at a higher, sustained price than to sell more at lower prices.

Should you compete on price?

Reducing your prices can do more harm than good. If you lower them too much, you risk creating the impression that your product is cheaply made as well as priced. The focus of your pricing strategy should be on how you can ensure customers buy from you, instead of someone else, rather than just concentrating on price.

Assess your competitors and see if you can offer something better. You can build your relationship with existing customers by being more personable, attentive, knowledgeable and flexible. Looking after them is vital, as they will be targeted by your competitors. You need to ensure you have a unique selling point and focus on communicating that to your customers.

The trick for your own growth is to find ways of making your product or service less price sensitive - that way you keep the focus on value rather than volume.

Discounts and special offers

In some price-sensitive industries, matching your competitors' prices can be necessary. Weigh up how much of a hit on price you can afford to take without putting your long-term growth in jeopardy.

Start with minor cuts and see if that makes a difference to sales. Lowering your prices should be seen as a short-term tactic to boost cash flow, not a long-term strategic move.

If you must discount, make sure the cuts are communicated as special offers, or one-offs to help loyal customers through difficult times. Remember, you will need to increase prices again in the future, which could be more damaging to your long-term survival than price cuts now.

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