Every Start-Up needs to make sure that its marketing is right from the very beginning – not least to give it the best chance of survival but also to avoid costly mistakes.
You might not be advertising your services, but you probably do make an effort to know your customers well. Your instincts tell you that figuring out what every customer wants, and meeting those expectations, will keep you in business. You know that you need to improve and extend existing products, and sometimes develop new ones. If this description rings true, you are already doing marketing, but is this kind of ‘unconscious’ marketing adequate? If you don’t understand that you’re ‘doing’ marketing, it’s hard to keep things consistent over time. This isn’t an obvious problem for very small organisations, but marketing on the hoof becomes less feasible as you grow. Applying a simple marketing framework is vital. It enables you to plan your activities in advance, find out what works, then use them again when and where they are most effective.
Find out who your customers are and what they want. Once you know this you have to make sure that you fulfil those needs and make your product or service more appealing than those provided by your competitors. At the same time you have to set a pricing structure that customers will find attractive and will give you a sensible profit level. Knowledge about your customer is worth a fortune so keep close to them and regularly ask them for their comments and views on how you can improve your products and service. Part of this process is ensuring that your offering is available when customers want to do business. With 80% of the UK population using the internet, having your own website enables you to reach lots of customers 24/7 – people of all ages order online because it is more convenient. If visitors to your site can order online using secure payment methods then this again can increase your overall sales. If you have staff, ensure that they are customer focussed and stress to them that no customers means no business and therefore no job.
In terms of types of customers you need to define who these are by segmenting your marketing. For example, if you were a cycle retailer, one group could be members of cycling clubs who would be very knowledgeable about your range of bikes, whilst a second group could be families buying for leisure cycling only. With both groups you can start building a picture of the customer by type, how often they order and the value of the order. It is no use having a great product or service is no one knows about it, so you will need to promote your business and products. You can do this in many ways, for example through the editorial columns of both trade and consumer magazines and newspapers, but make sure that your story will appeal to readers and if you have a web address that you include it with your news story. Or you could take a stall at a local leisure show. You never know who is buying; it could be the buyer from a major retailer who then expresses interest in you supplying their company.
But all your marketing efforts will be wasted if you don’t bother to find out if it has worked. Set up a process for recording your marketing effectiveness. That way you can replicate successful marketing practices and more importantly make sure you don’t make the same mistakes twice.
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