|Marketing Your Business
A key to ensuring the success of your new business lies in your marketing efforts. Marketing is more than advertising and selling. The term "marketing" encompasses the means and methods businesses use to reach and persuade customers, including advertising, public relations, direct mail and more.
Just as the business plan is a roadmap for your company, a marketing plan is also instrumental to your business. A good marketing plan summarizes the who, what, where, when, and how much questions of your company's marketing and sales activities.
- What are your products/services or product/service lines?
- What is the dollar size of your markets?
- What is your sales and distribution setup?
- What geographic area do you sell to?
- What is the population, demographics, income levels, etc. of your prospective customers?
- What competitors exist in this marketplace?
There is a wealth of information, books, seminars and experts available to help you with marketing your new business.
- Surf the internet
- Do research at the library
- Go to a book store
- Hire a marketing/research firm or advertising agency
- Contact trade associations
Good marketing requires good market research. Demographic, industry, labor and market data can be obtained from:
One marketing method that can work for most small businesses, regardless of size or type of business, is networking. In fact, it's the single most effective tool for almost any type of business. Successful networking depends on several important principles.
Plan. Carefully choose where you network. Network in places and at events where your target market goes, not where your peers or buddies go.
Focus. When attending an event, don't try to meet as many people as possible. Trust is not built from a stack of business cards. Instead, focus on a few people at each event. Get to know them well enough so that either of you might suggest a further meeting before the event is over.
Think differently. Don't focus on finding customers at a networking event. That's what everybody else is doing. There's nothing worse than being descended on by a flock of eager sellers when you're simply there to meet other business owners or to learn from the program. Instead, reorient your thinking and look for people to refer. Since most successful businesses grow by referral, be the person who does the referring, because the fastest way to get referrals is to give them. This means you'll do more listening than talking, more asking than telling. The ancillary result is that your new friend will also think you're brilliant.
Give undivided attention. Don't let your eyes wander over the shoulder of the person with whom you're having a conversation. Stay focused. When you give this sort of attention, people will seek you out, you won't have to go to them.
Make notes. If you receive a business card, be sure to make a note on it about the person or the conversation you had with them so when you find it your pocket two weeks later, you'll have a reminder about the person. It also never hurts to make similar notes on the cards you give. The recipient may not be as savvy a networker as you.
Follow up. If you discuss having lunch, call within three days. If you ask for their marketing materials, ask again. Write a note, hand-written if possible or at least hand-sign a typed letter. E-mail is fine for subsequent, informal communications or for the exchange of information, but in the early stages of a relationship, it isn't as personal as one might hope.
Never give up. Whether you do business with an individual or not, if he or she is someone you respect, the contact is valuable. Not only should you refer others to your contact, you should also maintain the contact. Amazingly, referrals are rarely direct. More often, the actual referral comes second- or third-hand. The wider your network, the more people you have working for you in your marketplace.
Additional Marketing Resources
- Workshops, Courses and Resources: