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Starting a business is exhilarating. Unfortunately, relying on a “build it and they will come” strategy is a sure fire way of having to wrap up your business as quickly as you started it. The overnight success stories you hear about are often the result of years of hard work behind the scenes. It’s easy to see why many see start up business marketing as a challenge, often because of the limited resources, usually time, money or talent. However, there are many things you can do to ensure your marketing efforts start off on the right foot.
Identifying Your Target Market
Know who you’re targeting
This should be covered in your business plan, before even starting your business. If you try to market your business to everyone, you waste both time and money. The key is to identify a target market and focus your marketing efforts there.
There are four main factors to consider when deciding on a target market:
- Market Size –Are you targeting a regional demographic? A business vertical (e.g. estate agents, schools? Do you know exactly how many potential customers are in your target market. Is it big enough to justify starting a business in the first place?
- Market Wealth –Does this market have the money to spend on your product
- Market Competition –Is the market saturated? Are their many competitors?
- Value Proposition –Is your value proposition unique enough to cut through the noise?
Where is your target market?
Once you know who your customers are, you then need to decide on where and how to advertise your business. The key to this is establishing where your desired customers ‘hang out’ –where are they going to see, and engage with, what you’re putting out there? E.g. there is no point in advertising a car which will be bought by 40-60 year old men on a social media site aimed at teenage girls.
- Do they read the paper/ magazines/ trade publications?
- Are they online? If so, which social media networks do they use (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram)?
- Would they search on Google or Bing?
- Would they attend a trade show/ exhibition?
- Are your target market part of a networking group or local community?
Have an online presence
A website elevates your credibility
In this digital age, it’s assumed that every business should have website. No website, or a poor one, can give a negative first impression of your business which is hard to win back.
It’s worth engaging with a professional if you don’t have a clue where to start, or there are DIY sites (e.g. Wix, Wordpress, Shopify -there are many others too), which can get you up and running with relative ease. Whether you chose to go down the DIY or professional route, there are a few points to bear in mind:
- Tell your target market what it is that you do -this should be clear and easily found on your website
- It should reflect the ‘personality’ of your business e.g. professional, creative, fun or friendly
- Include a ‘Call to Action’ –on a website this can be a button or link that is prominently displayed to drive prospective customers to become leads by filling out a form or as simple as a ‘call now’ box.
- Make sure that your website is mobile and tablet compatible, or responsive(meaning it will adapt depending on the device used).
So you’ve got yourself a website –great! Now how do you get your business found? SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) can seem like a dark art, however, in short, it is the process that ensures your website appears high on the list of results returned by a search engine, for a given search term, or ‘keyword’. SEO is very important and it can therefore be an idea to get a professional to take a look at this element of your site for you.
There are some other quick wins that you can do to fast track your search presence –not surprisingly most still involve Google!
- Register with Google Webmaster Tools –force Google to ‘crawl’ and index your site so it knows your pages are there. You can also do this every time you make a change to the site!
- Add a Google Business page. Google favours its own content, so registering your business with them is a quick way to get Google to notice you.
- Write blogs and publish content (articles, news updates, infographics and videos). Google likes to see that a websites are constantly updated. Blog posts act as an easy way to show Google that you’re creating new things. It’s also the perfect way to show your customers you know what you’re talking about and you are industry experts.