Marketing for Start Up Companies
In the past companies relied heavily on "word of mouth" to market their products and services. Later came the mail order catalogs, billboards, TV ads etc... As times and technology have changed companies have adapted to or adopted new mediums in which to market products and services. Today, they rely on websites, ads, social forums, video and the like to build awareness. Most of these you have come into contact with at some point.
But..."What-if" you are a newly formed company. "What-if" only your closest friends and family are the only ones who have ever heard of your business? "What-if" you have to operate on a tight budget? and "What-if" you haven't the slightest idea how to market your product? "What" do you do?
What is Marketing?
First of all, learn what marketing is and what it isn't. Let's take a look at a few definitions on the subject. The one that sits near and dear is the definition provided by businessdictionary.com. (Marketing defined). An excerpt from this site says, "As a philosophy, marketing is based on thinking about the business in terms of customer needs and their satisfaction." It also points out the difference between "marketing" and "selling."
An alternate definition can be found on Wikipedia (Marketing defined by Wikipedia) and closely defines what you experience in today's marketing environment. Which is Selling.
Now ask yourself when was the last time you bought a product that actually met a need. You walked away and felt like you got your money's worth and were happy with your purchase? When was the last time you felt like you got swindled by purchasing a product that did not meet your expectations? Can you see any campaigning difference between the two?
Please feel free to comment at the end of the article. I'd like to read your stories.
Developing a Marketing Plan
Once you understand what marketing is you will need to develop a Marketing Plan. This is part cosmetic and part business road mapping. Additionally, when you have your plan on paper it is much easier to stay on task, know if you need to change direction, and if you are meeting business goals. Provided below are some helpful resources to get you started.
- You will want to start with a template. To make it easy Microsoft has developed numerous templates with examples for download. Word, Powerpoint, Excel, Project, Publisher, you name it it's there. Click Here to access Microsoft Office marketing templates. Also, see a Sample Marketing Plan.
- In 5 Easy Steps to Create a Marketing Plan written by Joanna Krotz, maps out an easy to follow marketing plan guide. Learn the 4 Ps of marketing, SWOT analysis and other helpful tips.
- The US Census Bureau site will help you gather domestic market information you will add to your marketing plan.
This is an important step in the success of your business so don't skip out on this exercise.
Marketing Tips for the Small Business
- "Word of Mouth" is still one of the best marketing tools around. As well as one of your most important assets. This not only pertains to the reputation of the business but your reputation as well. It is estimated roughly 95 percent of dissatisfied customers will never complain to you and are more likely to speak of the bad experience rather than the good aspect of a product or service. Advice: Invest in those customer service skills.
- Your second important asset will be repeat business. Follow the 20/80 rule. 20% of customers will make up 80% of product class consumption. Many of those customers will be second time buyers. Capturing repeat business will involve developing product trust mixed with a bit of personal service.
- Develop a relationship with your customers, have a mailing list, catalog, flyer's, birthday discounts, do surveys, send thank you notes, etc...These customers will also be the foundation to gain product feedback helping you determine the product's direction.
- Never neglect your main customers and remember it takes about 5 - 10 times more effort to get the next new customer.
- Be willing to change your marketing strategy if the motivation of the customer changes.
- Marketing stragies should be designed to increase not only sales but also your profit. Revisit your marketing plan often to see if you are meeting financial goals.
- Never market a product or service that you are not willing to buy for yourself or your family. Your attitude toward the product or service will be reflected to the consumer and it can either increase or decrease your chances for success.
Marketing and Business - Other Helpful Hubs
How to start your own business and what you should know. Helpful tips for the Start-up Company.
Tips for Small business Marketing Plans. What works and what doesn't.
Increase traffic to your business by using social networks. This article provides 14 networking sites and their offerings.
Need a small business idea? Read through the list in "The Ultimate List of Small Business Ideas," to get a kick start on what businesses may interest you.