Now is the time of year people start thinking about what’s next in their careers. For some, there may be a next step up the ladder to consider, but for many others, the idea of starting a business is at the forefront of their minds. The new year is naturally a time to consider taking your hypothetical venture and testing it out to see whether there’s a viable business there. Some people pool talents accumulated from their career to launch a niche business, while others simply have the entrepreneurial spirit to give anything a go. What we know for sure is, no new business will get off the ground without a structured and robust marketing plan, and the five tips in this article will help ensure your business starts off on the right foot.
No one should approach a new business thinking it will be a comfortable ride. Yes, your idea may be sound, and you may know it can work, but the legwork involved to get there shouldn’t be underestimated. There was a record 5.7 million private sector businesses in the UK and regions at the start of 2017, which marks a huge jump from less than four million in 2000. Small businesses make up approximately 99.3% of all those companies and it’s inspiring to see the resurgence in people taking their ideas to market and making them work.
The key to achieving success as a new business? Hard work, a structured go-to-market approach and a commitment to growing and efficiently promoting the business. Having the right marketing strategy, tools, and techniques are critical for succeeding in business. Some studies have shown up to 50% of all new companies and start-ups fail within 5 years. Numbers like that certainly show entering the world of business isn’t easy, and you can’t just set up and expect to profit. You have to remain focused even when things are going well and keep the same level of enthusiasm you had on day one, when you’re on day 465.
Your marketing plan is absolutely essential to keeping your business afloat and ensuring your business idea is one that can stand the test of time.
Turning your idea into reality can be an exciting time, but remaining level-headed and practical about it is essential. From day one you need to have a long-term strategy. What do you want your business to achieve? From there you can pare it down into smaller, achievable goals to stay focused. Consider establishing three or four realistic, achievable goals to concentrate on so you don’t find yourself in a position of trying to wing it.
Tip One: Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail
Much like was said above, you have to structure your approach to your ideal customer. “Who do you want to target?” is a question many businesspeople ask themselves when really, they should be more focused on questions such as:
- What challenges does your service/product solve?
- How do they make people’s lives better?
- How do they benefit others? Do they add value?
With these questions in mind, you can get a clearer picture of your target audience, and really hone in on your ideal customer. Next, it’s time to ensure you know them inside out. Research and analysis of the market will help you draw a profile of your customer, allowing you to ensure both content and future products are created with them in mind. Equally important is getting a full understanding of your competitors. A strategic approach to competitor analysis is vital. As stated in Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, one of the greatest strategy texts there is: “Though the enemy is many, he can be prevented from doing battle. Therefore, know the enemy’s plans and calculate their strengths and weaknesses.”
Your competitors’ strengths can be something you build on. Their weaknesses are your opportunity to show how you can be a better prospect for their customers. Are they succeeding on social media? Do they have quality content which people engage with? Anywhere they are lacking is a chance for you to inform your strategy in that direction.
All of this analysis can become part of your strategy and execution plan.
Tip 2: Build Your Own Website
The volume of website tools, support, and guidance out there means start-ups don’t need to invest significantly in their first website. Yes, it is your shop window and your chance to get noticed, but the quality of the tools on the market means you can effectively create a landing page with ease. All websites are constantly changing, so don’t expect perfection. Simply having one will place you ahead of the crowed. According to Approved Index, nearly 2 million small businesses in the UK still do not have a website, costing the economy as much as £343bn a year. Creating a website for your business can result in a significant uplift in traffic. And in the current business climate, it should be one of the first things you do.
When it comes to designing your website, it’s important to be flexible. Your original vision may not be what you create. The main idea is to have a base for your brand that clearly states what you do and who you target. With so many ideas floating about for what direction to take your business in you need to be open-minded when it comes to your website.
There are some hard and fast rules that should be considered when designing your website. Elements such as SEO and branding should remain a focus throughout the design and content creation process.
Tip 3: Email Marketing—Build your List
Email marketing is a crucial part of any marketing plan, and it isn’t something that will go away anytime soon. It is one of the top three demand generation and awareness activities marketers use, and this is very unlikely to change. Building your list may seem like a difficult practice, especially if you’re starting from zero, but there are ways and means of getting people interested.
Using your social media channels, you can offer incentives and freebies to get people interested in your business. You can build landing pages on your website which provide premium content in exchange for email addresses. These are just some of the methods which help drum up interest and get people talking about your business.
Tip 4: Networking and Partnerships: The Sum is Greater Than its Parts
As well as pooling your own talents, there is nothing wrong with sharing the talents of others. Your network and connections from your career or working life may be perfectly positioned to help you in business. What’s more, they may be able to offer insight and mentoring in a way you could never have imagined. You may find there are complementary elements of each of your businesses or practices, which allow for some collaboration. Partnerships can only serve to help boost your business.
Networking may seem like old hat, but it still works and can be hugely effective. By approaching people face-to-face in the right environment, you’re in the prime position to sell and promote your business. Breaking the ice with a couple of important contacts online can help in attending events and relationships only become stronger when they’re developed in the real world, as well as online.
The growth of social media means that you can position yourself ready for conferences, trade shows, and events, before you even arrive, warming up potential leads and arranging meetings to help give structure to your attendance.
Tip 5: Social Media—You May Be Surprised
It goes without saying that the modern business needs a social media presence to back up their website and other business activities. Social media is much more than those vanity metrics—likes and shares. It is something you can develop as a critical way to reach your audience and position your brand.
Social media is also one of the leading platforms for 21st-century customer service, and you can use it to develop further niche marketing strategies such as influencer marketing. Social media can also feed directly into the content and knowledge strategy of your business, as you can share your content with ease and set yourself up as an expert in your field, adding value and genuinely useful knowledge to the community and your followers.
There are 2.80 billion global social media users, and with this level of activity, there is scope for almost every kind of start-up to effectively find their audience and engage with them. As the new year unfolds, there is plenty of motivation to make this year the one your business gets off the ground. A measured and strategic approach sets you up most effectively for success. This goes for all elements of your business, but especially marketing, which can be the deciding factor as to how fast your business grows.
How will you grow your new business in 2018, and beyond? If you have an established company, what strategies and tactics have you used for growth? I’d love to hear about your path in the comments.