So you have a great idea for a new business and you’re taking it to market? Fantastic! It’s a really exciting time when you step out to be seen for the first time.
It can also be very daunting and there’s lots of things to consider and get in place to make sure it’s a success. As well as creating the physical product you want to sell, or clearly establishing the service you’ll offer, you also need to know how to market your company in the right way, to the right people.
Unless you’ve been able to save up for this new chapter, you’re probably tight on funds before your new venture starts turning a profit, which makes it tricky when you want to get seen. But don’t worry, there are lots of things you can do to get your business off the ground.
Here are my top marketing tips for start-ups…
1. Identify your audience
Make sure you are really clear on who you are trying to reach and where these types of people can be found. What age-bracket? Which location? What’s important to them? What topics do they follow? Where do they visit, online and offline? How will your business help them? Make sure you’re crystal clear on who your target audience is and focus on the different ways you can reach them, so you avoid a scattergun approach.
2. Build pre-launch interest
If you skip straight ahead to launch day without having built any hype for your product or service then you’ll be talking to an empty room. Let people know you’re coming by running some teaser posts on social media and calling and emailing your existing contacts. Ask them to subscribe to your mailing list so they can be the first to hear the big news - you could build some excitement by offering something special for your early followers, whether that’s a sneak preview before the rest of the world, or an introductory offer or priority access.
3. Avoid discounts
You may feel the urge to offer discounts to get your first orders on the books, but try to avoid starting out with lowered prices as you will probably find it difficult to bring them back up to their true value again, especially if your first customers become repeat customers.
Discounts can also devalue your product or service and it’s incredibly important for you to establish right from the start just how valuable it is. Instead of offering a discount you could consider a freebie or an add-on that's free of charge for a limited time – that way you could up-sell much easier after they’ve seen the benefit of your additional products or services.
4. Keep showing up
You won’t be remembered after being seen only once. You need to show up regularly and consistently to build credibility and expand your reach. Use social media, your website, and your email database, to share content that adds value to your audience. Write some blogs, make some videos, share some great images, show the benefits of your product or service, solve their problems, and answer their questions.
5. Look ahead
Whilst it may feel out of reach to aim for the first page of Google as a start-up, don’t skip the important search engine optimisation elements when you’re setting up. Yes, it will take time to rank highly but that’s exactly why you shouldn’t delay starting SEO tasks. Start building momentum now so that you build for the future. Your new website should include keywords, links, resized images, be mobile-friendly, and tick all the technical SEO boxes too, such as good meta data and alt tags.
6. Ask for feedback
Don’t forget to ask your customers for their feedback. You should nurture the early adopters so they become advocates for your brand. Encourage them to give you their thoughts on your product or service - what they liked, what could have been better, what else they’d like to see - and then refine what you offer to make it even more brilliant. Ask them to leave you a review too (and publicly thank them), so future customers can see what a great business you have. Don’t forget to add reviews to your website as well.
7. Be SMART
Set yourself SMART goals to keep you motivated and so your business stays focused and on-track. They should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely.
There will be lots of things that demand your attention when you start-up and it’s easy to start chasing your tail instead of moving forwards. Avoid this by setting yourself monthly, quarterly and yearly targets – whether that’s the number of clients you want to have signed-up at each stage, a specific increase in sales, or a more personal goal such as the number of hours or days you work.
Don’t forget to measure your results against these goals regularly – and tweak them if your goals change and your business evolves.
8. You are not an island
It can feel a bit lonely starting up your own business, especially if you’re a solo entrepreneur, but don’t forget there is a wealth of support and advice out there for you to tap into and many of them offer free consultations. From accountants and tax advisors, solicitors, and financial advisors to business coaches and marketing specialists (like me!).
You should also try to surround yourself with a strong support network of other business owners and build up a power team for referrals. Networking groups are fantastic for this (I personally recommend BNI) – not only can they make some valuable introductions to you, they can also really help to keep you motivated.
If I can help you with specific marketing advice, please feel free to reach out and ask for a free initial consultation.