All businesses start somewhere… many around a coffee table, at the end of a good brainstorming session! However, we all recognise that this is not enough to make a business grow. At the basis of successful business are, one – a good marketing strategy to help you find and tap your potential customers, and two – good financial planning software to help you manage your money well.
Let’s see what we can do about the former. Whether you’re looking to build a loyal customer base for your new business or expand into new markets, marketing is crucial to growth. Here are some easy tips to help you create an inexpensive but effective marketing plan:
Study your market
Getting to know your market is essential because this will help you serve it better. Good market research helps you chalk out your business plan, understand who your customers are, the areas they are located in, and what their preferences are, as well as their economic profile.
Your research must also include your potential competitors and what their marketing and advertising strategy is. Also study the marketing promotions and communications done by your closest competitors.
Have a unique selling point
What is it about your product or service that meets your customers’ needs? To convince people to choose your product or service, you must offer a differentiator – a USP that sets you apart from the competition. It could be an exotic product offering, or low pricing, or your after-sales service. Make this the focal point of your marketing strategy, and include it in campaigns, business communications, and your website.
Find the people who need the product or service you provide and focus your advertising on them. One of the easiest ways of finding potential customers is advertising on the Internet, and using search engines to reach these people. You may want to consider:
Advertising online: Check your financial planning software to see if you can afford paid search with leading search engines such as Google, Yahoo, or Bing. Paid search is an effective tool for getting visibility for your business on the Internet. When you opt for paid search, the search engine lists your advertisement near the search results, ensuring that people who are looking for keywords that match your business services, products or USP, can see your advertisements easily.
Advertising in print: The print media still enjoys an immense reach with customers, especially those of a slightly older age group. Today, many newspapers and magazines target niche customer bases, people who could be your potential customers. For example, a business selling nutrition products may target readers of the health or lifestyle sections, or a furniture manufacturer may target an office needs section of the paper. Print ads come in all sizes – you may want to research to find the ones fitting your budget.
Word-of-mouth advertising: Referrals are the classic mainstay of every marketing strategy. Word-of-mouth is effective and inexpensive. Speak to friends, families, and community members about your company. If need be, offer incentives such as discounts or gifts to old customers who refer new ones.
Don’t undermine the power of networking
B2B sales require slightly more aggressive marketing than a B2C firm. You won’t find your customers in a store or taking a train. To find customers for a business-to-business firm, target industry fairs, networking seminars, trade shows, and technical lectures. Make it a point to attend as many such opportunities as possible. Mingle confidently, speak about your business and give samples of your product or service if viable according to your financial planning software.
Direct face-to-face marketing also works well. Seek out individuals at companies who may be interested in doing business with your firm. Remember to stay away from being pushy and pesky, and of course, focus on your USP!
Use promotional materials
There’s nothing like too much information. The more they know, the more comfortable consumers will be with your product. Be it brochures, flyers, coupons or your website: your promotional material must look good, be engaging and give out essential information such as contact details and website url.
Press releases are also an effective tool for reaching out to potential customers. There are many online resources as well as companies that can help you write and distribute your press release. Target local newspapers and magazines, and connect with reporters who cover your industry.
In business, the learning never stops. Even after you have established yourself, keep an eye on your customers, watch their changing preferences, study their relationship with your brand, and keep improving upon your products to reflect changing customer needs. Most importantly, stay fresh and stay relevant.
The Financial Year (FY) of a business is its 12-month accounting period which may or may not match the calendar year. At the end of the FY, books of accounts are closed, profit or loss computed and financial reports prepared for filing with appropriate authorities.