Starting a new business takes a lot of research and planning. The marketing portion of your business plan is one of the most important parts of your overall business strategy. Successful marketing methods will turn a customer's needs into a desire for your product or service.
Identify your Market
Market research is the first step in developing a marketing plan. Determine who your target customers are. The age, lifestyle and income levels of your prospective customers will have a direct affect on where you spend your advertising dollars.
What are your customers looking for? Check trade magazines for statistics and buying trends. Visit your library for local records, published surveys and reports pertaining to your business market. A neighborhood retail business will market differently than one with an international clientele. Known your target demographic and focus on marketing to them.
Investigate your Competition
Monitoring the competition is important in all facets of a business, including marketing. Find out what type of marketing techniques your competitors are using. Evaluate their strengths and weaknesses, and develop new ideas to outshine them. Focus on discovering what value competitors are portraying in their advertising, and attempt to deliver at a higher level.
Pricing your Products or Services
Cutting your price is not always the answer to beating out the competition. Yes, you must compare pricing just like a customer. It is critical that you pay close attention to all costs and price your items profitably. Money spent on research and development is just as important as raw materials and payroll. You may be tempted to jump in with a lowball price just to get the business but that could be detrimental to the future of your company.
Marketing calendars should be planned a year in advance. Budget your advertising dollars throughout the year. Holiday promotions and seasonal sales should be scheduled and well thought out for ultimate exposure.
If your business is a brick and mortar establishment, host a celebration of your new venture. Invite local public figures for a ribbon cutting ceremony and let the media know about it. Local cable television stations, radio and newspapers may provide your business with free publicity that will get you noticed and respected by your community. Be careful, though. If people are not interested and the turnout is minimal, you'll be marketing against yourself.
Develop a Brand
Build a brand for your company using a specific color scheme and a professional logo designed with your business in mind. Keep it simple and memorable and use it everywhere. Signs, business cards, web sites, yellow page ads and any printed brochures should include your logo and company colors.
For an entrepreneur or small business, finding those first customers will be difficult. Take advantage of those with expertise in your field that may help you create business. Join trade associations and local organizations. Get involved with networking groups or the local chamber of commerce. Meeting other business owners at the monthly meetings and sharing ideas are worth the low membership fees. For example, a new real estate office looking for home sellers can benefit by sharing information with electricians, plumbers and landscapers. Get together with other businesses that share common customers without direct competition. Referrals are an excellent way to get your business started.
Setting up a website is affordable and a must for any size business. Many web hosting companies have great support teams that can help even the most computer illiterate business owner set up an effective site. Getting social is useful, too. Facebook and Twitter are great examples of free advertising on the web. There are also many free business listing sites that can be customized with your information and linked back to your website.