Small businesses usually encounter greater competitive challenges than large enterprises,
particularly in market access and drawing early-stage financing. Consequently, entrepreneurs’ inclination during marketing often does not follow traditional principles of marketing. This article briefly examines marketing for entrepreneurs and how it is different from traditional marketing.
Stokes, Wilson, and Mador define entrepreneurial marketing as “the business
function of attracting and retaining customers, carried out in an entrepreneurial context”. The fundamental principle of marketing is that the action plan and activities of a firm should concentrate on meeting the demands of the customer. Entrepreneurs agree with this idea but the lack of sufficient resources to run extensive marketing campaigns and branding, typical of conventional marketing, means that entrepreneurs opt for more innovative and personalized marketing strategies. According to Stokes et al., entrepreneurs usually rely on creativity, energy and time rather than money to run their marketing campaigns.
Entrepreneurs have been influential in the development of digital marketing. Unable to
compete on traditional platforms of marketing with larger firms, entrepreneurs have spearheaded commercialization of products and services via the internet to global consumers. The growth of digital media, such as social media, has provided entrepreneurs with new tools of driving their marketing campaigns without having to rely on a lot of resources. In addition to being cheaper than traditional marketing channels, such as television and print media, many of the digital media tools have automation capabilities, which have enabled entrepreneurs to create continuous promotional campaigns and still be free to focus on other aspects of their businesses.
The most successful entrepreneurs possess an intuition that has been described as ‘an
antenna into the market place, which enables them to understand customer needs. Another characteristic of entrepreneurial marketing is the tendency to make rapid changes
in strategy to offset mistakes, such as misjudgments of customer demands. Unlike larger firms, the lack of bureaucracy in small businesses makes it easier for entrepreneurs to change direction when they realize that current marketing strategies are not working.
This flexibility has led to the description of entrepreneurial marketing approaches as ‘trial and
error’ methods. However, rather than being a weakness, the trial and error
method is a competitive advantage against larger firms. It is an advantage because it underlines the “need to be flexible and adapt quickly to changes in market demand that may be slowed by the use of formalized research” (Stokes et al., 2010, p. 262). Indeed, in most cases, product or service innovations by small firms emerge, not from market research, but following market experimentation with an idea developed from the entrepreneur’s intuitive sense. If the new concept gains market acceptance, the small business owner proceeds to invest in it. In conclusion, the discussion above shows that the approaches in entrepreneurial
marketing are different from those in traditional marketing, although the fundamental principle of both remains similar. Rather than focusing on the concepts of marketing mix and market research advanced by traditional marketing, entrepreneurial marketing leverages the small customer base of small firms to concentrate on developing close personal relationships with individual clients. Therefore, entrepreneurial marketing favors interactive marketing over the impersonal mass marketing advanced by traditional marketing.