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10 steps to take when marketing your new business

As a fledgling business, it’s tempting to dive straight in and start trading.  Hopefully by now though, you will have already defined your vision for the business, your mission as to how you will achieve that vision, and have conducted your research - political landscape, legislative restrictions, competitors – anything that could possibly have a negative (or positive!) impact on your business.

Whilst small business marketing can be a real struggle for company owners, particularly in the early stages, developing an outline marketing plan should be one of the first steps a new business should undertake.  We’ve set out below some points to consider when formulating an initial plan to work to, which can be developed over the months and years to come.

1. Set yourself some goals:

Keep your marketing efforts focused by setting clear, manageable objectives.  Consider establishing three or four goals initially, to keep you on the right track and stop you from ‘winging it’.  These goals should be ‘SMART’:

Specific – Measurable – Achievable - Realistic - Timely

For example: “XYZ Business want to secure 10 orders via the website in May”

2. Identify your brand

It’s important to know who your target market is, but before any marketing activity is undertaken, it’s more important to know who you are.  Having in mind your target market, ask yourself the following when identifying your brand:

  • What 5 key words that best describe your business?
  • What challenges does your service/product solve?
  • How do they make people’s lives better?
  • Does your service/product add value? 
  • What are your differentiators? Why should a prospect buy a product/service from you rather than someone else? 
  • Consider the feelings you want your target market to experience when they see your branding; it needs to inspire credibility and be persuasive.

Armed with this information, you can set about developing your logo and branding.  The services of a brand and design specialist aren’t always within the financial realms of a start up, but there are relatively low cost online logo and branding services readily available, that make it easy to purchase a customisable logo.  Your branding should be interwoven through all marketing activities and communications.  Consider creating an A4 brand guidelines document to record such things as colours, font, logo use etc. This can be expanded upon as your business develops – but will keep your marketing materials on track in the meantime for consistency.

So, how do you reach your goals?

So now that you have goals, a brand, and you know your target market, you can tailor your marketing efforts accordingly.  But by what means?   It can be hard to know what the best-value techniques are to grow your customer database, increase your exposure and kickstart your trading. 

3. Social Media:

Why should I do it?

Over half of social media users interact with brands more than once a month (Seoexpertbrad.com).

Over 88% of companies are now marketing on social media. 

Just those two statistics prove why having a social media presence is an easy win. Social media channels are free, can be maintained via your mobile device, and are a great method of communicating with your prospects and clients - people who report receiving good social media customer service will spend 21% more money on that company’s products.  In the absence of a full back office support system, these communication tools are invaluable to a young business, allowing you to keep in contact with customers and prospects on the go. 

4. Email Marketing:

Why should I do it?

58% of millennials claim that email is their preferred way to be contacted by a brand (Adobe).

Make sure you ask clients and prospects for their email address, because notwithstanding the above social media figures, email is an astounding 40 times more effective for customer acquisition than social media!  There is a variety of free mailing software on the market, some of which offer surprisingly sophisticated features.   MailChimp is a great choice, offering an initial free package with the option to upgrade to premium rated services as your business and customer database grows.  The key to e-mail marketing success is creating relevant communications based on recipient’s interest; this can be monitored through ‘click throughs’ on emails based on key interest areas, which will further allow you to segment your database to allow for deeper targeting.

5. Customer Relationship Management System ‘CRM’:

Why should I do it?

91% of UK companies with more than 11 employees use a CRM system (McKinsey).

A good database is the backbone of marketing.  It will help you record your previous, existing and future customers, what they order from you, what services you have provided in the past, and what services they may require in the future, so that you can continue to market to them.  A CRM combined with email marketing allows you to monitor their developing interests and requirements.  You can even record how clients and prospects found you – a critical element when determining which of your marketing efforts are successful…and which aren’t.   Again, MailChimp is a great place to start.

Finally, a good CRM system will also allow you to meet the requirements of the General Data Protection Regulations.

6. Have a Website:

Why should I do it?

70 to 80% of consumers research a business online before visiting in person or making a purchase (Superoffice.com).

Not all fledgling businesses can afford the luxury of a digital marketing agency to build and maintain their website.  Fear not, there are low cost, easy to use products on the market that will allow you to build your own website.  At this stage, it doesn’t need to be all singing, all dancing (unless you’re a start up digital marketing agency of course!), but bear in mind that your website will need to grow with your business, so it’s a good idea to choose a flexible web building package, and one that will allow you to weave in your own branding, logos and content so you can stay ‘on message’ from day 1. You should have clear ‘calls to action’ i.e. contact forms, clickable telephone links – make it as easy as possible for potential customers to contact you.  Don’t forget to add your social media links too.  

Initially you may not dive too deep into the world of search engine optimization (‘SEO’) and Google rankings, but as your business grows this will need to be a factor – you can bet your competitors will be doing it – so having the ability to tailor your site for SEO is a crucial deciding factor when choosing your website package.  The other is that your site should be ‘mobile friendly’, that is, it loads on a mobile device clearly and without the user having to ‘zoom’ to read the content. Tailor your site to your target market – an online retailer will require more product imagery and ‘check out’ functionality, than say a local handyman.  Finally, don’t just launch your site and forget about it – keep updating the content.  This can be done simply through a news or blog page.

7. Search Engine Optimisation:

Why should I do it?

Google has 93% of the search market across all platforms in the UK (Statcounter.com).

It’s easy to see therefore that new businesses, and their websites, should make friends with Google!  Various factors determine where your website is placed in a list of results after a web user enters a search term (Search Engine Ranking Position, or SERPs for short).  Whilst there are a multitude of ways to make your website Google friendly, some of the key tips include:

  • Having a clear, easy to navigate website
  • Ensuring your website is ‘mobile friendly’
  • Ensuring you update your content regularly
  • Having a Google My Business account and placing your business on Google Maps
  • Optimising any images to ensure they’re not too large, which could result in a slower page ‘load’
  • Ask your happy customers to review you on Google.

‘Learn Digital with Google’ offers a very useful introduction to the platform, as well as free training courses, and even Google certification!

Finally, placing Google Analytics on your site is a must. A simple piece of code placed on your website allows Google to track visitors to your site and gather information about how they found you, their industry, how long they were on your site, amongst other interesting pieces of information.

8. Get Reviewed:

Why should I do it?

86% of consumers read reviews for local businesses (including 95% of people aged 18-34), with 57% of those consumers using a business if it has 4 or more stars (Brightlocal.com).

Reviews are extremely influential in buying behavior.  There are reams of statistics that we could relay here proving this to be the case.  The bottom line is, if you can get them, you should display them! Invite your happy customers to you review you on Google (you will need a Google My Business account for this though – see above).  If you’re trading on Amazon, then the same applies.  These can be replicated (with the reviewer’s permission) on your ‘Testimonials’ (or similar) page on your website. You shouldn’t feel awkward about asking for reviews from your customers – they’re quickly becoming a fact of life – and a happy customer should have no qualms in providing a review in return for a good product or service.

9. Networking:

Why should I do it?

72% of people say their impressions are impacted by how someone appears and their handshake (Hubspot.com).

It’s not all about digital. There’s still a lot to be said for getting out there, shaking some hands, and getting to know people (and don’t forget your elevator pitch – see below!) Whilst networking requires a time commitment, and results aren’t instant, having a strong network is one of the greatest assets any business person can have.

10. Elevator pitch

Why should I do it?

“No one can remember more than three points” (Philip Crosby, Author, Consultant & Philosophist)

With the above in mind, should somebody ask you who are you and what do you do – you should be able to answer succinctly in the time it takes an elevator to travel a few floors.  Work on this to create a great first impression.  Extremely useful when networking!

Remember…

Did you achieve your goals?  Marketing is an iterative process – review your metrics (did you get those ten web orders in May?), look at what works, what doesn’t, and start again.  Always keep your target market at the front of mind.  Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you know better – always be listening!

There are a whole host of other marketing tools that can be used in growing your business but these should give you a good starting point. Good luck!

If you would like to discuss any of the above points in more detail, please contact our Head of Marketing, Cara Bartlett.

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