You’ve picked a name, launched a website and opened the doors on your brand new business. Congrats! It takes a huge amount of work to get to where you are. But, maybe now it’s been a few months since you opened, and the customers aren’t flocking to your business like you imagined.
You’ve heard the word marketing thrown around, but you’re not sure where to begin, what’s worth spending money on, and how can you guarantee a return on your investment?
First off let’s address the ‘M’ word. Before we start marketing, it’s important to understand what marketing is, and (more importantly) what marketing isn’t, especially when starting a business:
- Strategic: Every element of the customer journey (your product, its pricing structure, sales channels and key customer touch points) should be considered part of your marketing strategy. Identify opportunities and make considered choices about where to allocate resources based on expected short term and long term outcomes.
- Authentic: At its heart, marketing is about building trust and rapport with your customers. Customers are savvy, they can see through disingenuous sales strategies and artificial engagement. Slimy salesman tactics have no place here. Transparency and good intentions will always get you further.
- Content-driven: From SEO to Instagram to newsletters, marketing is heavily reliant on content creation. But before you start churning out memes, consider how you want your customers to feel when they’re engaging with your content and what actions you want them to take. A content strategy is an essential component of any marketing plan.
- Customer-centric: Keep your customers in mind every step of the way. Your marketing should serve them and their needs, not the needs of your executives, your shareholders, your family or your competitors.
- An ROI driver: A successful marketing strategy requires investment. Anyone who’s said social media is free marketing has never utilised the tool effectively. Allocate a healthy budget to your marketing efforts, but, don’t just flush those dollars down the drain either. Set an expectation for a return and keep track of results.
- Advertising. Don’t assume that because you’re advertising, you’re marketing. Advertising can be a tactic you employ, but without a marketing strategy driving it, often it’s just noise.
- A fancy brochure is not marketing. Once again this could be a function of your marketing plan, but on its own it’s an ineffective and mostly unmeasurable piece of branded collateral with no long term engagement or return.
- A one off tactic. Good marketing is something you build into your business strategy from day one. Ad hoc marketing tactics like viral videos can have some positive results, but without a considered and cohesive plan, these tactics are often a missed opportunity for brands to tell a broader story. Don’t do something just for the sake of doing it: you’ll waste time, resources, and likely confuse your customers.
So now that we’ve established what marketing is, and what marketing isn’t, let’s consider what marketing strategies you should prioritise when starting a business.
Tips on how to get started marketing your new business…
- Know your customer – deeply. Ask yourself where do they hang out? What are their pain points? How will they hear about your business? How can you interrupt their day with delight? Without knowing your customer, it’s impossible to market to them.
- Set goals based on the outcomes you want to achieve. Different types of marketing can produce different results. What’s most important for your business right now… Brand awareness? Leads? Conversions? Your marketing can have more than one goal, but it’s important to priorities your goals by importance. A good goal often manifests as your ‘call to action’ – the direct result you want your customers to take. The more clear this is, the more likely you will be successful.
- Choose your marketing channels based on where you customers are. This one is pretty obvious, but you’d be surprised by how many people overlook this important step. There’s no point in spending money on a channel if your customers can’t be reached there.
- Invest in strong copywriting. There’s a quote by Howard Gossage that reads, “People don’t read ads, they read what interests them. And sometimes it’s an ad.” The value of strong copywriting can’t be underestimated. If your content isn’t engaging, no one will read it, full stop.
- Monitor & review. Keep an eye on your marketing and set calendar reminders for when you will check in to review what’s going on. Turning your marketing on is only half the battle, understanding what happens after you go live, and interpreting the results is just as important for long term success.
Bonus: When marketing your new business, don’t be afraid to try new things. A lot of marketing, especially digital marketing, is data driven, which means trends can be identified in short periods of time and with minimal budget. Experiment with different approaches to discover what works best to deliver the results you’re after.