You had a brilliant idea for a new product / service that nobody else has thought of, so you set-up a small business. For business growth then, you decide that your marketing time is best spent on social media to spread the word (because it’s free). Does this sound familiar?
Unfortunately, many start-ups use social media as a substitute for effective marketing techniques as they tend to focus more on building the business from an operational viewpoint. As a result, they don’t have the time for consistent communications.
We believe that effective marketing is just being smarter about your marketing. If you don’t have the time or experience for smarter marketing well then, outsource it. It is an investment just like any other assets you use for business growth.
In this blog post, we’re going to look at ways that you as a business start-up or an SME owner can undertake smarter marketing which will help business growth through more effective communication.
Many small businesses don’t realise that a formal marketing strategy is the best way to build brand recognition and to grow a customer base. As a result, businesses that don’t undertake effective marketing initially will take longer to establish a customer base and therefore profitability.
Many small businesses don’t realise that a formal marketing strategy is the best way to build brand recognition and to grow a customer base. Do you agree?Click to tweet
3 Marketing Planning Actions for Start-Ups to Consider.
When setting-up your business it really is important that you allow for some time in planning your marketing activity.
The first action we recommend, that will only cost you your time, is determining what makes your start-up unique. The result will form a basis for your marketing message.
Our second recommendation is to focus on a specific customer base. All businesses seek revenue as a route to success and specific audiences will deliver that revenue. This requires a focus on which activities will build a sustainable customer base. Only by attracting customers and maintaining relationships can future revenue be delivered.
(Our last O’C&K blog post, alluded to the different types of brand loyalty).
The third action, we would recommend is to spy on your competitors. This does not mean copying them but it does mean finding out how you can improve on what they offer. There are many tools available to enable you to do this. RAZORSOCIAL is a website that has a wonderful array of online tools.
These three actions will deliver an outline for your marketing activity and for your business communications going forward.
Don’t forget the Business Plan
We know we said that this post will be about smarter marketing but it really would be remiss of us not to mention a business plan – especially if you are in a start-up scenario. When done properly the business plan will provide you with a real growth strategy and a guideline in how to tackle specific challenges along the way.
The plan can be as brief as you wish but just needs to be thorough (not detailed). There’s no point in copying a competitor, as every plan should be as unique as the business itself. Just remember to make a fair assessment of the business needs and plan accordingly.
[ctt template=”3″ link=”BPgER” via=”no” ]Every business plan should be as unique as the business itself. Just make a fair assessment of your needs and plan accordingly.[/ctt]
So, once the business plan is in place you should have a good idea of your mission. Your mission will reflect what you want to achieve / change or add value to, in the marketplace. It helps if your offering comes from an empathy with a specific customer base. If not, perhaps you might find a partner that brings that empathy to the table.
Your business plan will also have provided you with goals. The only caveat here, we believe, is that goals should be changeable mid-stream. If your business (and you) is set-up for continuous learning, you should be able to adapt in real time as you progress through your business cycles.
A business plan is a documented description of your organisation’s future. It doesn’t matter whether it’s written on the back of an envelope or in an online template – it is a plan. You have a starting point, an ending point (perhaps) and an outline of how you are going to get there.
Not being Smart about Obstacles for Business Growth
There are many common causes for business failure obviously, but perhaps some that you might not think about as much would be:
– Not paying for an expert’s help with areas that you are not strongest at e.g. taxation, legal and marketing can be a mistake. We would put, not being able to analyse your data, in this bracket also.
– Not understanding that a business is more than one product / service is another reason for a short business life-span. It’s not all about selling one product, it’s about understanding that a customer has a life-long value and that a sale can take a long time.
– Clinging to a wrong idea because of a fear of failure is a very common malaise amongst start-ups particularly.
– Not being ready for the challenges of being a business owner can have its own, personal life pressures as well. Also, changing from being an employee to an employer is not an easy task.
– Lack of a smarter marketing strategy can definitely be a cause of failure, especially in a changing business environment.
Here are a few old school marketing vs modern day marketing reasons why your marketing activity might not be as smart as you expect:
– Relying on PR press releases for media coverage vs promoting content across all brand touch-points
– Designing a logo with strict guidelines vs adapting to a changing design paradigm (e.g. websites)
– Campaign + message + paid media vs A/B testing, online polls, customised CTAs + remarketing
– Major advertising campaign vs continuous engagement
Tips for getting your branding right for business growth
As a start-up business, getting your brand off on the front foot initially can be the main route to revenue growth. Not doing so, however, might be a very costly mistake. Here are six ways of avoiding the latter –
- Choose your brand name carefully
- Understand how your visual identity matters
- Don’t confuse your brand with your logo
- Know your audience and think big
- Convey the right message to the right people
- Embrace failure
Of late, there appear to be many people embracing self-employment or setting up new businesses. This could be as a result of many things e.g. responding to the uplift in the Irish economy, technology removing barriers-of-entry, more female entrepreneurs or people not finding employment to be fulfilling. Whatever the rationale, turning a new business into a profitable enterprise is not an easy task.
Business growth is about being smarter about what you do – especially your marketing.
Those start-ups that are successful seem to be the ones that are driven by a personal vision – a story. The purpose or cause appears to be at the heart of everything the business stands for. Therefore smarter marketing should be an integral part of your business, ensuring consistency of message in the telling of that story.
When people believe in your brand as much as you do – it’ll be easier for them to do business with you. Make it easy for them – be smarter about your marketing.
“Thank you for reading our blog post today” – Aidan & Jim.
Would you like us to notify you, by email, when we publish new content? If so, just let us know by clicking here. Of course, we can always meet face-to-face, just leave your details here and we might grab a coffee, cheers. Jim – O’C&K