Having a sound marketing plan in place before anything is actually implemented, is one the best decisions you will make for your business. Everyone starting a new business wants to hit the ground running and to start pushing their products anywhere and everywhere; you need to harness the enthusiasm, as a controlled, paced approach is usually what pays dividends.
Your Company Status
The first thing you need to think about is your company status. Do you want to be a sole trader or a limited company? What implications will your decision have on your corporate image? Most companies decide to go limited if they are looking to grow fast. You then need to register your company, consider trademarking etc. This can be done directly via your .gov website but in many cases engaging the services of a professional provider to help you get business going, vet partners, and protect trademarks etc is the more efficient and easier option.
Another fundamental stepping stone to your success is your financial plan. Obviously the start-up capital is the genesis is all businesses (good or bad) and it’s arguably easier than ever to obtain funding with the options available from angel funding, crowd-sourcing, government grants, kick starter, traditional bank loans and indeed their online equivalent. I suggest checking out the guide to business loans here if you’re wanting to learn more about your online options.
Research your Market
This is one of the most important things that for some reason is often overlooked. Knowing that 5 year olds like ice cream is not enough information to base a decision for buying an ice cream truck and driving around your neighbourhood trying to make sales.
You need to gather as much information as possible about the market you are targeting. The size, growth, demographics, and social trends should be at minimum the areas your company is looking into. It is also important to remember to do research on a yearly basis. Your numbers for your target market could look much different from 2014 to 2017.
Profile your Competitors
Too many businesses only look at the consumer, when they should be doing just as much research on their immediate competitors. Find out exactly what your competitors are offering by identifying their products, pricing, supply chains and marketing procedures.
With this knowledge you will be able to gain insight into how to create a competitive advantage for your competition. Being able to know your competitors business inside and out will allow you to focus your time setting your business apart in specific areas that will resonate with the target markets both companies are going after.
The 5 P’s of Marketing
In every marketing plan there is a balance. A balance that must be met across the 5 P’s of marketing (price, product, promotion, place and people). If you place all your effort into promoting this product, but have a terrible product; initial results may be promising but the long term outlook probably does not bode as well.
At the same time, if you do the first 4 P’s perfectly, but have bad customer service and sales people (failing the last “P” for people) then again your business will suffer. Analyze these 5 areas in depth and make sure you strengthen any weak areas listed above.
Maintain Relationships with Customers
Everyone knows that getting a repeat customer is much easier and more cost effective than trying to constantly make sales to brand new leads. Ensure a way to keep your company in touch with this individual even after they make a purchase.
Many online eCommerce stores use auto responders to stay in contact with their recent customers. They keep them updated through email on the status of their shipment, and then email them again (around 21 days after item has been shipped) to leave a review for the product they purchased.
The beauty of these auto responders is that they are keeping a customer engaged and thinking about your company, without the messages feeling spammy in nature. Plus a review from a satisfied customer can lead to more sales down the road!
The Digital Age
Lastly, if your company does not have a digital stamp on the marketplace; get that done right away! Facebook pages, Pintrest Boards, Twitter Handles and many other social media platforms are powerful ways that people can relate to and even promote your company for you for free.
Having happy customers “pin” your items on their Pintrest boards promotes your products and company at absolutely no cost to you. Having customers like your Facebook page instantly shows all of their friends your company. Some companies pour all their resources into social media marketing because they believe this is the best way to reach their target demographic.
Social media and email campaigns are just a few (of many) marketing ideas that can help a business grow sales and brand recognition. Remember that having the proper foundation within your business is just as crucial to success as is the great marketing campaign.