How important is marketing for small businesses?

Here, Shahzad Ali, managing director of Get Licensed, explains why marketing is important for small businesses.

Entrepreneurial spirit is a fantastic thing. The business community is built on great people having big ideas and taking those ideas forward. It’s never an easy task and it can sometimes feel very lonely, particularly when you’re just starting out, but there can sometimes be an opportunity to collaborate with other businesses to ease some of the pressure, allowing the business owner to carry on doing what they do best; the day to day running of the business.

My business, Get Licensed, works with a number of small training companies, who deliver various licence-linked qualifications. Many of the training businesses we deal with have started a new career in the training sector and are able to deliver great courses because they have the job skills and the motivation to run their own courses. However, they may not have the business experience or the workforce to do all the jobs required to run a successful operation.

For the training providers we work with, getting set up and running a successful business can be a mammoth task, especially if they don’t have those in-house marketing skills. But working with a company like Get Licensed can ease the burden for them, because we help to fill in the gaps with our specialised skills.

Marketing is a key area for any business, particularly when they first start out. If no one knows where your business is, what you do, or who you are, you will have no customers. It is a specialist skill that involves knowing the right people to speak to and a creative eye and writing skills, to make sure the message gets out.

Profile raising can be time consuming, as it often requires phone calls and meetings, which can be an unnecessary hassle for someone working on their own. It can also be costly, as most outlets such as Google, Bing and Facebook charge for direct advertising.

It is, of course, always an option to hire another member of staff to manage your marketing. Then there will be someone available at all times to do tasks such as creating YouTube content, keeping your social media sites up to date, and creating your advertising, however working with an external company can be a great alternative if money is tight.

The way Get Licensed markets companies is by matching the potential trainees to a provider in their area. The provider can then be confident that they’re hitting the right customer base, and the trainees know they won’t be sent to a training centre in the wrong location. If companies don’t know the right places to aim their advertising, they can end up wasting money promoting themselves in the wrong places, and find they spend a fortune while getting very little in return.

We act as a market place for training providers, so that they’re positioned exactly where they need to be so that potential trainees can find them. You see this model across the internet; Amazon acts in this way for a variety of products, Expedia for travel, Open Table for restaurants.

These websites act as, not only a one stop shop for whatever product or service you’re looking for, but also a vote of confidence, as they’re associated with a reputable brand. Like other market place sites, we work on a no-sale-no-fee basis, so that the training provider doesn’t find themselves out of pocket if we can’t deliver what we promise.

A number of businesses nowadays also require some sort of online portal. In the training industry, for example, students need to be able to search for, book and pay for their courses online, and to access their results. If you work on your own, this set up can be costly, time consuming to update and keep up, and difficult to deal with when things go wrong.

Companies that work with us use our website to deal with these online elements, without the owner having to set it up themselves. This not only makes for a better customer experience, but also makes the company look more professional and successful, as their customers have access to a dedicated phone number, a webchat facility and online booking, rather than calling a mobile number or emailing a personal account.

Once you’ve had your big, creative idea and set the wheels in motion to launch your business, the next step is to look at where you might need help. It may be that you look at a number of different companies or people you can collaborate with, or it may be that in your industry, there is someone you can work with who will have all of your bases covered. If you find you don’t have the time to market your company and give it an online presence, you may find that a company like Get Licensed could be exactly the support you need.

Shahzad Ali is managing director of Get Licensed

Further reading on marketing

Owen Gough, SmallBusiness UK

Owen Gough

Owen was a reporter for Bonhill Group plc writing across the and titles before moving on to be a Digital Technology reporter for the

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