Launching a new business can be a daunting task for any entrepreneur. You have to find creative, low-cost, high-impactful ways to get visible and become attractive to your leads and prospects. Where do you begin?
The Business Plan
To get your business off on the right foot, you have to construct a comprehensive, methodical business plan. Your business plan includes everything from understanding your target market and your competitive position to how you intend to reach that market and differentiate yourself from the competition. Your small business marketing budget should also be a core component of your business plan. Essentially, this outlines the costs of how you are going to achieve your marketing goals within a certain timeframe.
Brand consistency is where a business attempts to communicate in such a way that doesn’t detract or wander away from its promise. Every piece of marketing material is like a member of the same family, supporting and even looking similar to each other. The brand has its own unique look and feel that links back to the brand proposition distinguishing it from other competing brands. The fact that the brand is easily recognizable garners customer trust and loyalty, simply by being familiar.
Business plans should be maintained on an annual basis, at a minimum. But if you launch a new product or service, take time to revisit your original plan or develop a separate campaign outline that you can add as an addendum. Time spent developing your business plan is time well spent because it defines how you connect with your customers. And that's an investment worth making.
Think of the age, income or socioeconomic profile of the persons who are most likely to use your product or service.
Discuss where these people would likely buy your products and which communications vehicles are the most impactful in reaching them. You might consider conducting a focus group to test your product concept with eight to 12 people in your desired target market group. Have them explain their buying behavior and brand preferences within your product category. Ask them how likely they would be to purchase your product based on your current product concept. In addition to focus groups, you will also to conduct quantitative research surveys to obtain a more representative or reliable sample size of your target audience.
Once you have identified your target market, consider these questions; Are there enough people that fit my criteria?; Will my target market really benefit from my product/service?; Will they see a need for it?; Do I understand what drives my target market to make decisions?; Can they afford my product/service?; Can I reach them with my message?; and Are they easily accessible?
Now that you have a target market, you have to tell your story. You marketing message informs your target audience about your products and the added value they provide. You will need an opening tagline or hook that gets your target audience interested. Your hook contains your value proposition and incites a palpable call-to-action that resonates and influences buying behavior. You’ll need to develop several variations of your message and test it to see which evokes the most sentiment among your target audience.
Once you have an effective marketing message, you can create your marketing collateral. Your marketing collateral does two things: It puts information in the hands on your target audience, and introduces them to your brand. It should educate them on the ins and outs of your products and services yet leave them wanting more. This is your one shot to make that first impression so a clean, aesthetically-pleasing, professional looking piece is essential.
It's all well in good to have a good marketing message with associated print collateral, but it is how you disseminate this information that paves the way to fruitful prospects. There is not one, ideal touch point anymore. People are always “on –the-go," and you have to leverage the communication channels that are the most impactful; social media, podcasts, e-books, mobile, blogs, webinars, videos, e-newsletters, and websites. Discerning the many ways your target audience likes to be engaged is in your best interest.
When you have your marketing collateral and communications strategy, you can begin telling your story to potential leads and prospects. You will have to develop a quick, yet informative elevator speech that contains your value proposition or mission statement. To help get your business on the map, here are a few suggestions:
- Participate in community service
- Join the board of a non-profit organization
- Become active at your local Chamber of Commerce (as an ambassador or committee member)
- Take a leadership role in planning a fundraiser or visible community event
- Develop an eNewsletter devoted to your area of expertise and expand your network
- Serve as a presenter at local area conferences
Jumpstarting a new business is paved with many opportunities and challenges. However, with a solid business plan, effective marketing message, professional collateral, communications strategy, and intent to become visible, you are on your way to new leads, potential prospects, and new customers in no-time.