Thinking of starting a business, but not sure what you need to know? Begin your journey here with my basic guide to business start-ups. In my role as Editor for The Business Show and Business Startup, I have talked with literally thousands of business owners and entrepreneurs about what they really need to know, not what a business guru thinks they need to know. This series is the result. Today’s blog looks at spreading the word about your start-up through marketing.
How Marketing Works
You could have the best product or service in the world, but if nobody knows about it, how are they going to buy it? Marketing’s job is to put you in front of potential customers, so that they spend money with your business instead of somebody else. Identify your Unique Sales Proposition (USP) early on and reinforce it with every message you send out. This is what makes your business, product or service different to all the competition and it’s the reason why any customer should choose you. Marketing activities can be general (establishing your brand), or specific (announcing a sale, special offer or new product), but they should all carry your USP.
Start by drawing up a marketing plan that sets clear objectives to help with long-term strategic goals. Setting deadlines, targets and budgets will help you focus on your priorities and gives something to measure performance against. Measurables could include sales growth, numbers of enquiries, new customers, or average transaction value. These statistics will help you identify where your marketing is – and isn’t – working. If you see an increase in new enquiries, but this doesn’t translate into sales, you need to work out why – and fix it!
Your marketing plan should start with a description of your market and any notable trends, as well as how your offering compares to your competition. Research what customers value, such as product features, quality or service, as well as which kind of customer will spend the most money with you. This might inform your decision about which market segment to target with each activity, as well as whether to attract new customers or activate existing ones. Decide which products to push and set specific objectives. If you have previous marketing activity to refer to, work out which methods saw the best response. The most common types are display advertising, leaflet drops, direct mail, direct selling, website, mobile and text marketing and social media.
Learning how each customer found out about you will help you to identify which marketing channels work for your business. You can do this by putting marketing codes on adverts and coupons, while you can track web users by page visits. Stating that customers should ask for a different person in different adverts is a clear indicator where they saw that advert and any customer who phones in should always be asked how they heard about your business. This knowledge will help you to decide which marketing channels to extend in the future.
Identify key times of the year for your market sector, such as the new financial year or Christmas and schedule your marketing to build up to these dates. You could also factor in consumer shows, trade events or relevant diary dates. In between these marketing peaks, maintain customer awareness with more cost-effective activities such as emails and newsletters. Remember that every time a potential customer sees your brand, it should reinforce your reputation. They may not act on the first contact, so don’t expect too much, too soon.
NEXT: Becoming An Employer
If you find the series – or any of the articles in it – useful, please share them via LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or your own blog. I’d really appreciate it, thanks. If you need professional copywriting for anything from your first business plan to marketing collateral and press releases, I’d love to hear from you. Get in touch today to find out how I could help your business.