Just starting a business is not enough; you need to let potential customers know about it, get them in, and have them buy your product or service. Marketing is all of this. Your specific approach to marketing will depend on your business, your target customers, your finances, and your goals.
Marketing is so important to your business it should be approached similarly to a business plan. Your marketing plan will help in evaluating your current market strategy, where you want to go with it, and how to get there. The marketing plan should also spell out the specific steps and costs involved. Your marketing plan can be integrated into your business plan as one comprehensive section. As with the business plan, it should be referred to regularly to make sure you’re on track.
Successful marketing requires work and careful analysis. It is an opportunity to use your creativity. Additionally, you must be flexible and willing to try new approaches if old ones no longer work.
One of the first tasks in developing a marketing plan is to do some market research. This will help define your target customer, a vital step in successful marketing. Market research is also used to assess the competition and forecast industry trends.
In addition, it’s important to develop a marketing budget. This budget will determine what you can spend and in what categories. Smaller companies with little money often look for creative marketing strategies that avoid the mainstream media.
KNOW YOUR MARKET
A crucial element of business success is “knowing your market.” It is important to clearly define your target group(s) by characteristics such as age, gender, economic status, lifestyle, geography, and other parameters. This will help in choosing the most effective marketing strategy for your purposes.
Furthermore, marketing research can help you assess competition and understand your industry. This knowledge is vital as you make decisions and forecasts for the future.
Information can come from existing sources (secondary research) or you may have to gather it yourself (primary research). Most businesses need both to effectively develop a marketing strategy.
Doing research can cost time and money, so work it into your budget. This is one of the keys to a successful business.
You need to know where your customers live, how they learned about your business, and whether they are satisfied with the product selection, prices, store appearance, etc. The best way to answer these questions is to ask. Surveying is one way to stay in touch with your customers.
You also need to know the strengths and weaknesses of the competition. This information can be obtained by shopping in and observing their businesses directly, buying and evaluating their products or services, and asking customers their impressions.
There are many resources available to provide demographic and geographic characteristics of your customers or trends in your industry. You can find this information at the library or on the Internet. There are market research professionals who will do the work, or you can do it yourself.
Publicly held companies are required by law to file reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Articles are often available in the media. Credit reports are available from some private companies.