When it comes to successfully starting a business, coming up with a good product/service idea is, believe it or not, the easy part. The real challenge lies in reaching out to and securing prospective customers. This challenge is further compounded by the fact that most startups are forced to bootstrap for a long time.
So, even in the earliest phases of launching a business, you need to think through marketing. In fact, when showing entrepreneurs and small business owners how to make a business plan, a significant amount of time must be spent on the marketing plan section. Below are several marketing tips to include in your business plan.
Prioritize Your Customers
As a startup, your marketing priority should be your customers. Every marketing endeavor needs to focus on their problems and how your product/service will solve these for them. The broader theme of your marketing initiatives should be education. Educate people on what your product/service is and how it is better at resolving their pain points than your competitors. (Note that if you’re seeking funding, highlight this competitive advantage in your business plan). If you can successfully educate and convince people, you can change their habits and get them to choose you over competitors.
Resist the urge to mimic the marketing techniques of popular brands which build and use their brand value to increase their market share. As a startup you need to understand that for most people you are an unknown entity. The onus is on you to let people know who you are and what you can do for them. Hence, your marketing efforts should focus on educating instead of branding. Creating a brand is important but it’s not the priority for a new business.
Leverage Your Customers
Positive product/service reviews and customer recommendations are some of the most powerful and cost-effective marketing tactics a startup can use. Encourage clients to share their positive experiences with your business. And incentivize clients with discounts for their referrals.
Current clients can be your connection to a significant number of prospective clients. Furthermore, don’t be shy to leverage your personal connections as well. Ask your family and friends to spread the word about your business both offline and online. Nurture your personal and professional networks as these connections will help you establish your startup.
The Future is Online
More and more people are shopping online and spending an ever-increasing amount of time on social media. As a budding business, you need to exploit the online terrain as much as possible. Include social media marketing in your business plan, and start promoting yourself online through posts that explain your product/service and also feature your positive reviews if applicable. Create a social media account for your business and try connecting with social media influencers to extend your reach to even more people.
Marketing Through Content
Another simple yet effective way to use the online medium is through content creation. Either through well-written articles or videos, create original content specific to your business and industry. You can develop leads through content that engages constructively with your target audience. It can also help establish your business as a reliable and strong voice in the industry.
Never Stop Analyzing
Each marketing method you adopt should be regularly analyzed to quantify the impact it has on your business. For instance, if you run a website for your business then it is important for you to know how many people visit your site, how many stay, how many bounce back, and how many conversions take place each month among other metrics. The data you collect will help you understand what is working and what needs to be improved.
Incorporate the above tips into your business plan and follow it to grow your startup into a substantial enterprise.