You have successfully started your own business on a tight budget and you have limited resources left for advertising and marketing; yet, for you to sustain your business operations, a strong market base is paramount.
Your competition is probably investing heavily in advertising and you are worried about how you will hold your own in the industry. Do not fret, the good news is that marketing is a lot more than huge billboards and flashy adverts on TV.
Like everything else, the marketing industry is growing and changing very rapidly. We are increasingly witnessing a tremendous shift towards online marketing. With the number of internet users increasing everyday, opportunities to grow your market base by simply leveraging your social connections are limitless.
Ideally, you should work on a simple marketing strategy which will guide you on how to proceed.
Questions you need to ask yourself before you start:
- What is my target market?
- Where are they?
- What are the best means to reach them?
- Why should they be impressed by your product/how is it better than your competition?
- How do you plan to influence them to buy?
- Which resources will you need for the marketing?
The questions outlined above will inform your marketing plan. In particular, it is important that you fully understand the product/service you want to offer and its competitive edge. You need this information to be able to impress potential customers to buy your product/service.
Your budget should be a reflection of all projected costs versus the resources you have available. Besides guiding expenditures and helping you keep your strategies realistic, your budget can be used for accountability.
In your master budget, allocate funds for packaging, promotions, advertising and publicity. Even the smallest business needs to have funds for flyers, business cards and other promotions.
- Word of mouth: Take every opportunity possible to talk to others about your product or service. Tell all your family and friends about your new business venture and encourage each of them to spread the word.
- Aggressive promotion: Hang up flyers at local establishments and give out business cards to everyone you know. Attend local events, charity functions and civic meetings to network with potential customers and fellow business people. Getting your name, your face and your business name out to as many people as possible is the best way to start marketing your new company.
- Social media: Take advantage of social media to market your business. Social media consists of social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube among many others. These sites allow a person or company to spread a message to a large network of friends and connections instantly. Create an account on each one of these sites and make connections. Keep your connections updated on new products or promotions and make sure that you update your status often to keep your business fresh in the minds of your network members.
- Blogging: Start a blog for your business. You can create free blogs by using online blog creation software such as Blogger or WordPress. Create interesting posts that are relevant to your business. For example, if you own a bakery, you could create how-to instructions on your blog on baking techniques. You can also use promotional tactics such as contests and free product giveaways to keep people coming back to your blog.
- Free online advertising: Take advantage of free online advertising sites. Websites such as Google Places allow you to place information about your business and the services that it offers on their sites for free. Find out from local radio stations whether they give free advert slots for start-ups.
- Give back: Remember to always give back to society for instance through supporting the vulnerable, helping authorities to maintain law and order, preserving the environment among others. You may not directly gain from social responsibility today but in the long run, this could be an opportunity that is going to open wider doors for your business.
We wish you luck in your marketing efforts. If you need professional assistance on creating a marketing strategy for your business, do not hesitate to contact us.
By Irene Birungi