by Peter Fishburn
So, you are launching your long-awaited business venture. Congratulations. Did you put aside a marketing/advertising/promotions budget? I have been told this is something new start-ups either forget or begin with insufficient funds to really tell their audience their story and how to find them.
Once you have a budget, who is your audience? Is your business model business to consumer or business to business? Where will your targeted prospects reside? Are they located geographically close to you or are they spread out across the country? What are the demographics of your customers? Are they young, seniors, businesses? Is their income level high enough to afford your product or service? Do you know if there is a potential need or interest in your product or service? Is your new business a niche business that has a very specific audience?
A lot of people say, “Anyone can use my service or product.” That may be true, but you may not have the resources to reach everyone. So, it is important to focus on the customers who have the greatest need, who you can easily target and more importantly communicate with economically.
How many customers do you need? If you are a service business like a restaurant or other brick and mortar business, you may need thousands of people to cross your door in a year. If you are a business to business company and depending upon the dollar volume of your product or service, you may only need a thousand customers.
I want to stop here and ask a very important question: Are you an expert in marketing, branding and advertising? Most new business owners are not. I strongly urge you to connect with someone who has a background in marketing or search for a representative who is very knowledgeable. For example, if you choose social media, do you know how to create the right kind of content for search engine optimization? There is a skill on how to do that and how to place ads in social media for the best advantage. There are experts in all the other areas as well. Interview these people to find the one who understands your business and you relate well with.
How you market your business and the type of advertising and marketing tools you will use depends upon how you have answered the above questions. If you target geographically around your business, then mass media tools such as TV, radio, newspapers, billboards and direct mail are options to consider. Join local organizations like the chamber, professional organizations or networking groups. On the other hand, if you only need to reach 1,000 specific people or businesses, a more targeted approach needs to be considered, such as direct mail and promotional items.
Email and social media need to be part of your marketing strategy. While there is only so much time in a work day, you need to choose which media will give you the greatest return on your time and resources. If social media is not your main source for customers be careful as it can consume a lot of your time. In a start-up, the need is for customers to immediately purchase your product or service as cash flow is always an issue.
I did not forget the importance of a website for your business. A website has now become a necessity just like your need to have a phone and email address for customers to reach you. Your website is your store front and most of your marketing efforts will tie back to it. How you design your website depends upon the questions mentioned above so it will be the most effective. There are good websites and there are bad, we have all experienced both. Make sure your new website has all the right elements so you start out on the right foot. Here again, select a professional web designer who will be with you long-term and not be gone in six months as your website will have to evolve as your business grows. You don’t want potential customers to be frustrated or confused as you begin your business. Good luck and I wish you great success.
Peter Fishburn has been helping clients achieve positive results with branding over 20 years. For more information, programs or a consultation on how promotional campaigns could benefit your business, contact Peter at firstname.lastname@example.org.