Marketing in Small Businesses

by Mateusz Kuczera

Published November 20, 2023

“So, boss,” says Ramonda as she opens Kurt’s door. “Are we getting those logos or not?”

“Hey Ra,” he replies. “I was thinking. Since, you know, the business ain’t doin’ so good, maybe we should hold off on expenses for now…”

“But, boss, if we don’t get more visibility, getting more business will be hard. We desperately need that income.”

Kurt leans back on his chair, looks Ramonda in the eyes and says “listen, Ra. We ain’t got the money. Now, if you want to find some free things we can do, or even design the logo yourself, feel free. But we ain’t spendin’ a dime on it.”

Ramonda raises her arms in the air and says “boss, I can’t design the logo! It’s going to look terrible, then people will think our company sucks. I can’t do that!”

“Ra,” says Kurt, “find a way, but it has to be free for now.”

Ramonda silently shakes her head then says “fine” before turning around and walking out of Kurt’s office. She meanders through the hallway, staring down at the floor and thinking “This really isn’t good…”

Ramonda isn’t the only one in this situation. Plenty of small businesses struggle with finding ways to either bring their product to market or increase their market share. In small construction service companies, which is a highly competitive market, it can be even more difficult.

For small companies with limited resources, marketing can be particularly challenging. Small companies must find cost-effective and efficient ways to market their products or services to a wider audience while competing with larger, better-established companies. And while some companies may feel that they don’t need to actively promote and develop markets and strengthen their brand, doing so will make their company different, and memorable.

Marketing: from 4 to 6 and 7 “P”s (or is it 8? Or more? And what does P even mean?)

Contrary to popular belief, marketing consists of more than advertising. In fact, advertising, communication or Promotion, is only one of the P’s of modern marketing. The 4 original Ps were respectively Product, Pricing, Place, and Promotion. People and Processes were later added to the mix to take into consideration factors such as no marketing is done without people, and how the product is delivered. The 7th P is still ill defined, sometimes being considered as Physical Evidence to products and service, sometimes as the Positioning of the uniqueness of the product or service.

An 8th P called Performance, Productivity and Quality, Partnerships, or even Philosophy, is slowly emerging. But its several distinct names clearly show how ambiguous it still is. And while all 4 descriptions of this new P are important, only time will tell which one emerges as the 8th. However, as time goes by, the other Ps will likely join and form a 9th, 10th and nth P. For simplicity’s sake, only the 6 first P’s will be discussed in this article.

Product (or Service)

In small construction service companies, the products and services are somewhat straightforward. Products generally consist of physical components, or final assemblies, and services include maintenance and new installations. In other words, technicians install or repair components. Quality and warranty are two extremely important aspects of small service companies’ products.


In a nutshell, pricing represents how your products or services are priced to the buyers. Several internal (fixed and variable costs, capacity, brand) and external (market share, competition, segmentation, economy, demand, regulations) factors influence price, most of which need to be considered when creating a strategy. Strategies include maximizing market share, profits, cashflow, quality, or any mix of them. For more information on pricing, take a look into the 2-part article Pricing.


The place includes factors such as distribution, transport, inventory, geographical coverage and customer locations. For construction service, it is again fairly straightforward. Vehicles such as trucks are used to bring the people and the materials to the work location, which is usually within reasonable range of the warehouse. Inventory however may be more challenging to manage. To learn more, read the article on Inventory Management.


The famous promotion, or what most people believe is the bulk of marketing. Promotion is essentially the advertising activity a company engages in. But before doing any sort of advertising, the company needs a strong brand identity (i.e. logo, tagline, etc.). Once a brand has been established, it should be used consistently across all promotion channels.

For small service businesses, the most widespread advertising method is large decals on company-owned vehicles. However, in the digital age, having an online presence has become mandatory. Potential customers search for services on large search engines (such as Google), and establish brand credibility by looking at websites. Advertising on social media is another great form of promotion. Not as costly as billboards and with a potentially greater reach, social media should be seriously considered in small service companies’ promotion strategies.

Other ways of promoting the company and brand include attending trade shows and other industry events, or partnering with other non-competing companies. For all promotional strategies, it is highly recommended to identify the target audience and make efforts focused and not widespread. With this approach, the effectiveness of advertising and promoting will be significantly better.


People are involved at all levels during the marketing effort. Employees, customers, and partners will interact together and will create the human aspect of marketing. Moods, behaviors and emotions all influence the relationships between the parties and also have a significant effect on customer experience. Customer service is a critical aspect of marketing in small service companies. The article on Customer Service will provide more insight.


The 6th and “final” P in the marketing mix is Processes. These processes are what affect the delivery of the final product or service. In small service companies, delivering the execution of the service, including the components necessary to do the work, is what makes up most of the process. Articles on Managing Day-To-Day Service Operations, the 2-part article on Project Management, as well as Why Digitize and Automate? provide more insight on processes integral to the delivery of products and services. And of course, all processes, whether they directly affect or not the final product, should be thoroughly documented and made accessible to employees executing the work.


In conclusion, marketing is essential for small companies to grow and succeed. However, marketing is generally misunderstood as being comprised of only the promotional aspect. In reality, marketing is a mix of several P’s which need to be holistically integrated and carefully executed for a successful marketing approach. And although there are more than 6 P’s, the most relevant ones for small service companies are Product, Price, Place, Promotion, People and Processes.

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