Listen up, business owners. You’re going back to school.

The subject? Marketing 101. Specifically, marketing utilities.

Today’s marketing advice largely focuses on content and digital marketing, and it’s for good reason. But we tend to forget some basic marketing concepts that are crucial for growing your business. So sit up straight, grab a pen and paper, and let’s get started.

What are the marketing utilities?

Let’s start with what marketing is, period. You could say that marketing is about promotion, but it’s a little more than that. Marketing is anything that touches your customers and prospects and affects the decision-making process around your product. So yes, marketing includes advertising and public relations. But it also includes pricing and market research.

An important concept that all small business owners should understand is what a business marketing utility is. It’s the components necessary for an exchange to take place between a business and a customer. There are four business marketing utilities that business owners should think about when considering how to grow their company.

Form Utility aka “Give ‘Em What They Want”

Form utility is all about the specific products or services you offer your customers. Does that product meet a certain need? Do your customers even want that product in the first place? Large companies dedicate entire teams to conducting extensive research to figure out exactly what customers want. Once they know this, they develop a product to meet that desire.

Small business owners can use this concept to grow their own business. Conduct surveys to see what your customers’ needs are. Perhaps there’s a customization you hadn’t considered that over half of your customers say they’d be thrilled to pay extra for. Lacking a market research budget is no excuse for not thinking about form utility. Make a solid effort to talk to every single one of your customers whether it’s at the register or by emailing a follow-up survey with a reward for those who complete it.

Time Utility aka “Set Your Watch to Opportunity o’Clock”

You can think of time utility in a few ways.

One way is to offer a product when consumers want it the most. If you know there’s a huge snowstorm coming and your hardware store stocks up on shovels, batteries, and flashlights, you’re in a wonderful position once nearby stores run out of those essentials.

Of course, you can find less extreme opportunities. Take note of when certain products are more desirable or popular and be ready to meet that demand the following year.

You can also think of time utility in terms of availability. Do customers often tell you that they wish you were open a few hours later or even around the clock? You may be missing out on a huge amount of business. Extending your hours and hiring extra help may be one way to grow your business.

If staying physically open isn’t possible, you can set up your website to display items and process orders 24/7, so that your business is still running even when you’re unavailable.

Place Utility aka “Meet ‘Em A Little More Than Halfway”

Place utility is all about convenience. Is your office frustratingly out of the way for local customers? Is your website a pain to navigate? Do you offer delivery?

The extent to which you can address place utility depends on your budget. If you can’t afford to open a second location, perhaps you can invest a little money into sending your team out to visit customers. If your website is archaic, maybe it’s time to invest in professional web design services.

Possession Utility aka “Make Purchases as Valuable as Possible”

Possession utility refers to the value or usefulness of a product or service once a customer has received it. The most obvious way to think of this is the number of ways a customer can use a product or service, even if it only has one intended purpose. Try toying with your marketing to present multiple ways a given product offers value.


Now, while business owners shouldn’t limit their marketing only to these utilities, these concepts are helpful for understanding a few benefits consumers derive from a purchase whether it’s through features, convenience, or value. But like any good teacher, we encourage you to take these lessons, build upon them, and apply them to your own business.

Class dismissed.